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Timeless Beauty: How To Make Freshwater Pearl Necklaces - The Bead Traders

Timeless Beauty: How To Make Freshwater Pearl Necklaces

Pearl jewelry has been synonymous with sophistication, elegance, and beauty for centuries. Pearls have graced the neck of the Queen of England and have been popular accessories for celebrities and even presidents’ wives, such as Audrey Hepburn and the beautiful Jackie O. Their presence also communicates a measure of power and wealth due to their costly price tag. Thankfully, you can create many of these same iconic looks along with trendy new options with freshwater pearls and save a great deal of money doing so, allowing you to embrace the look of pearls without having to invest a great deal of money. The following will tell you everything you need to know about making a freshwater pearl necklace, so you can achieve this look anytime you so desire: 

How to Make a Freshwater Pearl Necklace

For this example, we will look at how to construct a simple strand of pearls, which is one of the most beloved and iconic looks. The following instructions will walk you step-by-step through the process and by the end, you will have a lovely piece of jewelry to wear to virtually any event: 

Choose Your Necklace Length and Material

The first step when constructing a necklace is to determine what length you want the necklace to be. This will vary, of course, based on if you want a full pearl necklace or just want to create a focal piece with a few pearls in a specific design. While you can use many types of materials to create your pearl look, for the sake of instruction, let’s assume you are going to stick with silk line. Keep in mind that silk does stretch, so pull the thread taut to pre-stretch it before you measure out your length. This is a standard choice for stringed pearl necklaces like we are constructing. Of course, leather, ribbon, and more can be used as well for different looks, such as when using large-holed freshwater pearls.

  • 12-13 inches: This is what is known as the collar-length necklace. It will generally lay around the middle of your neck and not have too much loose line.  
  • 14-16 inches: Known as the choker length, this is also a classic style that sits at the neck and encircles it comfortably.
  • 17-19 inches: Considered the princess length, this is one of the most common lengths for a complete pearl strand. It is ideally worn with plunging necklines.
  • 26-36 inches: This opera length hangs low around your sternum and can be stacked with other shorter lengths of pearls or worn on its own.

Keep in mind that if you want to double your line for strength (more on this below), you will need to take that into consideration when cutting your length. 

Treat Your Silk Line

As the second step after choosing your necklace length, make sure that you treat your silk line after you have measured it out and cut it off the roll to prevent deterioration. Over time, as you wear your necklace, the residue from soap and the oil from your skin will cause the silk line to weaken, which of course is not what you want. Therefore, it’s a good idea to try to prevent this by applying beeswax (small amount) on the entire length of your silk thread line that you will use to construct your necklace. Apply once, stretch the thread out, and apply a bit more. 

Double Your String

One easy way to strengthen your necklace and protect your string of freshwater pearls is to double your string. Do this by folding the thread in half and tying a knot to connect the loose ends together. If this doesn’t work for you, you can use a bead clamp to safely fasten the ends together. Of course, if you plan on doing this, you should take this into consideration when choosing your necklace length, as you will have to allow for the doubling process.

Gather Your Pearls, Prepare Your Work Area

Now comes the fun part: readying your beautiful freshwater pearls for the job at hand. Prepare for this step well, as scattered pearls throughout your house really aren’t that much fun to track down. Before starting, count your pearls in case any go missing. Then, lay a towel down in your work area to serve as a catch-all. A towel works, but if you plan on doing this again or want to be as efficient as possible, you can instead use a beading tray or mat to help keep all your tools and pearls in one area. 

Thread Your Pearls Using a Needle

Using a thin wire needle, string your pearls on your thread. Ideally, you want to choose a thread and needle that will easily fit through the pearls themselves. Before getting too far into the project, make sure and test the thickness of your thread. If the needle can’t easily pass through the hole of a pearl, then you probably will need a smaller size. Also, you don’t want it to be too small either, as then the pearls can slip over knots. If you are making a simple strand, you don’t have to be very mindful of order in terms of pearls. However, if you are trying to create a pattern or plan on using different pearls or even adding pedants, remember that you are stringing in reverse, so make sure that you keep up your pattern (and plan it out ahead of time) to ensure the placement of these focal points.

Apply a Clamshell Tip

To hold the necklace closed, and before you begin stringing your pearls, you will need to apply a clamshell tip. To do this, thread the needle through one side of the tip all the way to your knot. Dab a bit of glue on the tip to properly close off that side of the necklace line. Tie a knot (overhand knot) to separate the first pearl from the metal clamshell tip. You will want to do this because, over time, the pearl rubbing against this metal surface can deteriorate it. Therefore, by tying a knot between the first pearl and the tip, you can extend the pearls’ life.

String Your Pearls

Now that you have done all the prep work, the next step should be rewarding and fun. You can string your pearls one after another if you prefer. However, one way to help your pearls stay looking great and prevent unnecessary wear is to space them out slightly using the overhead knot. To do this, place one pearl on the silk line and then tie an overhand knot and then place the next one. If you do use the knot system to space out your pearls slightly, make sure that you tie the line tightly before moving on to the next pearl. Sometimes, tweezers can come in handy when working this precisely.

Check It, Throughout

As you construct your beautiful strand of freshwater pearls, routinely check the length and look on your neck. While you can measure it beforehand and lay it out on a table, it will look different and lay differently on your actual neck. So, before completing your necklace, be sure to check it several times throughout the process.

Attach The Other Clamshell Tip

When you are finished with your necklace, to complete your piece, attach the other side of the clamshell tip to the opposite side of the necklace. Knot the line securely and then tuck it inside the clamshell tip, if possible, to hide. Then, make sure to add some glue to ensure that the knot holds, and you do not lose your pearls.

Finish it Off With Clasps and Jump Rings

Last but not least, bend your clamshell tips open with pliers, so you can easily link in your clasps, such as lobster clasps, and the other, into a jump ring. Once you have your clasp and jump ring in place, bend the clamshell tips to close them in, then apply glue to where the tip ends and bends back into itself. This prevents your necklace from working itself loose over time.

You Did it!

If you have followed the steps to this point, you should have a beautiful freshwater pearls necklace to enjoy. Congrats, you did it!

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