Knotting Pearls -- Harder than it Sounds

by Lucia
(Los Angeles, CA)

A very sorry first attempt.

A very sorry first attempt.

Pearls are a newly found love for me. I accompanied a friend to a bead shop, and the moment I saw the pearl section, I was lost.


Not wanting to subject the most beautiful (and expensive) pearls to my first awkward caresses, I spent an hour or so picking pearls out of the "buy by the scoop" bins. (It's okay, they had separate prices for picked versus un-picked scoops, so I was allowed.)

Armed with a pile of glowing, if mis-formed/mis-drilled pearls, I hit the internet to learn how to string them. I had some sense that it wasn't like throwing seed beads on a cord.

My first attempt to knot a strand was undertaken late at night. This necessitated using what I had on hand. No clasp, so I found a safety pin instead. No silk, so maybe sewing thread would do. "Fine," I thought, "this is just a practice run after all." (I had no idea how right I was.)

Firstly, I found that my thread was a little thin. The knots I made were too small, and the pearls kept trying to slip over them. This made it difficult to keep proper tension between knots. (Ha! Excuses! It was bloody hard making the knots lie where they should, and I don't think the most perfect silk in the world would have made that easier.)

Secondly, the weight of the pearls on either end of the strand pulls at the spot where you are trying to make each knot. I got best results when I let the entire strand lie on the table, even the pearl I was currently working on.

Thirdly, I couldn't get knots to lie anywhere near the pearls unless I used my beading needle to guide them in. The cleanest procedure went something like this: snug the pearl against the previous knot, make the loop for the next knot, slide the beading needle through the loop and the hole in the pearl, gently pull the thread perpendicularly along the needle until the new knot is resting against the pearl, remove needle, use fingers to very gently tighten knot further against pearl. I still need lots of practice.

My next attempt will involve heavier thread/silk. I think my poor pearls will be subjected to many restringings while I clean up my technique. I'm secretly very excited about this. As much as I look forward to wearing perfectly knotted pearls, I really love having them in my hands; so stringing them again and again does not sound like a onerous task.

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Sep 30, 2015
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Knotting Pearls
by: Anonymous

We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable info to work on. You've done an impressive job and our entire community will be grateful to you.



Dec 24, 2009
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Tweezers
by: Bill

I use tweezers (6" utility with thin, pointy ends) while knotting. I make the overhand knot then put the tweezers thru the loose knot and grasp the cord near/at the pearl. Holding the cord I then slide the knot down to the pearl and tighten. I remove the tweezers and use my thumb and forefinger to move the knot closer to the pearl and tighten.

Apr 25, 2009
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stringing pearls
by: Kim

This is a newby for me. I have some surgical hemastats that help me keep the closer and more uniform. So if you have access to some try it! They may not (knot) <- Ha! Ha! be perfect, but okay for a first attempt.

Jun 10, 2008
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Whatever works!
by: Kari

Hi Jane,

I think you are very persistent...and hey, whatever works, well, works!

Thanks for sharing your new found technique.

Jun 09, 2008
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two threads
by: jane

I took two threads and knotted them together several inches from one end. The other ends were threaded on to beading needles. I used one needle, then the other to have both threads going through the pearl. I pushed the pearl against the knotted end. Then I took each needle and thread and made a double knot against the pearl. I continued for 120 pearls, with a double knot between each pearl. The person I made this for didn't want a clasp, so I knotted the needle ends to the knotted ends. I made sure to knot closly to the pearls, so there was no gap. Took me one minute per pearl. I don't know if this is allowed, but it worked for me.

May 29, 2008
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Trying again -- materials matter
by: Lucia

I did a quick experiment with separating the threads to pull the knot tight against the pearl. Using the same (cotton) sewing thread as before, I just got tighter knots, no closer to the pearls.

Then I bought some synthetic beading string, and tried it again. Huzzah! The slicker thread made all the difference. Now, if I separate the threads and pull on the knot, it actually slides a good distance, making it almost easy to get those pesky pearls to lie snug between knots. I made a ribbon necklace with three short strands of knotted pearls hanging from a central loop/pendant, and a graduated pearl bracelet. My knotting isn't perfect yet, but from a distance, it looks good.

Next step, find some real silk. I'm thinking blue-grey knots between creamy pearls would look like one of those luminescent rainy days.

Thank you again for everything!

May 29, 2008
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Not too late!
by: Kari

Hi Lucia,

No, you're not too late. I'll give a free strand of pearls to the next four who contribute a story and photo too.

Don't forget to contact me and give me your address so I can send the free strand.

Happy Knotting!
Kari

May 28, 2008
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Oh my.
by: Lucia

I thought I was miles too late for your offer. Now I have even more incentive to get my technique down.

Thanks for the hint about separating the strands. I guess I missed that the first time I read through the instructions.

I'll try to keep you updated on my progress. :-)

May 28, 2008
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I remember ....
by: Kari

Lucia, Thanks for your detailed explanation of your first attempt at knotting pearls. I clearly remember my first pitiful attempts as well. It really helped me to watch experts knotting pearls and separating the thread to scoot the knot close to the pearl has also been a big help.

I'll be sending you a free strand of pearls because you are one of the first 10 to share.


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