Top Ten Reasons To Restring Your Pearls


Pearl Necklace After Restring Job

Pearl Necklace Just After Restringing

Pearls are the queen of gems. What’s not to love about pearls? Classic and classy, they are a staple in most every woman’s jewelry wardrobe. Many people don’t realize pearl jewelry needs special care.  While pearl jewelry is meant to be worn and enjoyed throughout the years, you will extend the life and the beauty of your pearl jewelry simply by treating them to an occasional restringing.

Is Your Pearl Jewelry Trying to Send You a Message?

If your pearl jewelry seems to have lost its luster, it may just be dirty or have discolored knots. This ​Santa Barbara Jeweler​ wears pearls year round because of our sunny climate. If you haven’t taken a good look at your pearl jewelry lately, there’s no time like the present.

The Top Ten Reasons to Restring Your Pearls or Beads

1. Dirty knots

White Pearls with Dirty Knots

Dirty Knots Call Out For a Restring

Did you know that pearls are strung with silk, and the silk stringing material absorbs body oil, moisture, and basic grime?

It’s true. Body oil, moisture and basic grime can wear down the silk over time, Which leaves the string prone to breakage.
Clean knots are strong knots, and less vulnerable to breakage.

2. Uneven gaps between pearls

Stretched Out Pearl Necklace

Pearl Necklace with Gaps between Pearls and Knots

Silk string stretches over time.

Even the strongest string is prone to stretching and breaking over time, and the silk string used to string most pearl necklaces is no exception.

When silk string stretches, it causes gaps between the pearls. Not only does this make pearl jewelry look bad, it is also a warning sign that breakage is imminent.

3. Your necklace is longer than it was

No, the pearl fairy didn’t visit you and drop some extra pearls onto your jewelry or bracelet. Pearl jewelry that seems to grow in length is another sign of stretching.

4. Fuzzy knots

Pearl Stringing String Showing Wear

Fraying Knots in One Area of Necklace Tell us it's Time to Restring

The general wear and tear on pearl jewelry can create fuzzy knots, which is caused by the pearls rubbing against the knots.

Over time, the continuous rubbing action can shred the knots, making them a little wooly looking.

That wooly look precedes breakage.

5. Pearls covering knots

pearl over knot - incorrect

When a Pearl Knot Shrinks and the Pearl Moves Freely Over it, That is Bad

Normal wear causes stretching on the silk thread, which in turn can cause the knots to shrink and get pulled into the pearl drill hole. When this happens, the knot in the silk thread disappearing inside the pearl.  Without the knot to separate them, pearls end up wearing against each other and causing damage.

A vulnerable place on a pearl is the drill hole area. When two pearls are rubbing next to each other this can chip off nacre in the area of the drill hole. This is like a chip on the edge of a diamond. It can lead to worse chipping.

6. Discolored pearls

an unmatched pearl next to matched ones

A Discolored, Dinged Up Pearl Next to Well Matched Pearls

Pearls are porous and tend to absorb what is around them. This includes, perfume, lotion, makeup, sweat and anything else that you put on your skin. Over time, this affects the luster and shine of the pearls, causing them to have a dull and dirty appearance.

If pearls are not cleaned properly and restrung from time to time, they can become permanently discolored.

This mismatched and dinged up pearl was pulled out when we restrung Clara's necklace. We wondered how it got there. Maybe her grandmother had wanted to restring it longer? The stringer was going blind? And IQ test to see if we were paying attention? She saved it in her jewelry box afterwards as a reminder that her grandmother frequently took things in her own hands. 

7. Chipped, scratched, or broken pearls

Cultured pearl with damaged nacre

Example of Damaged Pearl

Pearls are, by nature, very soft. Over time, even with the utmost of care, they can chip, break or be scratched. The perfect time to replace these problem pearls is when you have them restrung.

During the restringing process, the damaged pearls will be replaced and matched to your existing set, and your pearl jewelry will be returned to you looking brand new!

8. Unsuitable clasp

If the clasp is hard to manipulate, worn, or broken, restringing is the perfect time to replace it with something better. You might also want to update your pearls with an antique or diamond clasp to add beauty and value, or transform a little-worn necklace into a fabulous, multi-strand bracelet.

9. Blackened pearls due to contact with gold beads

When Pearls are Strung Next to Gold Beads They Get Black. Restring these without the gold balls

When Pearls are Strung Next to Gold Beads They Get Black

Pearls that have continuous contact with gold beads may take on a blackened appearance.  If your pearls seem to be turning black, you’ll need to have the necklace taken apart and the pearls cleaned. Consider all your options before restringing, such as removing the gold spacer beads from the necklace completely, or simply adding another type of bead, such as onyx or jade to separate the gold beads from the pearls.

The blackened appearance occurs because the holes on the gold spacer beads are larger than the holes in the pearls. The gold beads will always slip between the knots, touching the pearls and slowly blackening them over time. The blackening itself is the oxidation of the gold which is generally an invisible thing. The rubbing of the gold beads against the pearls causes the bit of oxidation to rub off on the white pearls.

10. They are being held together by a safety pin

Safety Pins and Pearls Don't Mix! Restring those pearls.

Safety Pins and Pearls Don't Mix!

Safety pins are not accessories for pearl jewelry! Are your pearls being held together by a safety pin?

If so, we need to talk. (I speak from experience as I’ve seen it now three times, and on one occasion, my client’s comment was, “It works fine until it starts turning and someone says, your safety pin is showing.’”)

Calla says ...

Fire agate bezel set with brown fresh water pearl necklace

Pearls in All Their Styles Look Amazing

There’s nothing more beautiful than a simple strand of pearl jewelry, and caring for your pearls with a simple restringing will keep your pearls looking their best.  Ready to restring your pearl jewelry?  I can help with that!  Call or email me today.

Your Personal Jeweler,

Want to learn more about pearls?  Check out these blog posts

Choosing Pearls: Five Things You Need to Consider

Pearls, Your Jewelry Divas and How to Store Them

French Wire Finish for Your Pearls; It’s Stronger and Prettier

The Pitfalls of Pearl Restringing – What Might Happen After Restringing

Why Pearl Ring Sizing Costs More

Pearls Must Be Knotted! Or Pearl Restringing with Knots

Ten Ways to Casual-ify Your Pearl or Bead Necklace

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Peggy Jo Donahue
Peggy Jo Donahue
12 years ago

This was a great one, Calla – time to go look at my pearls!

Lorrie Thomas Ross
12 years ago

great pearls of wisdom!! thanks for the web gems Calla!

Santa Barbara Coach
Santa Barbara Coach
12 years ago

Wow, those dirty knots really do take away from the beauty of the pearls. Thanks for being there to take care of all our jewelry needs!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach

12 years ago

I inherited some pearls that were no longer even strung together, the silk had broken a long time ago. I don’t even know if I have all of the original pearls at this point, which I find very sad. You’ve done a great job here of educating us on how to take care of our pearls so we’ll be able to enjoy them for many years to come (and maybe even leave them intact to the next generation).

12 years ago

Calla I love your idea of refurbishing pearls instead of throwing them out or buying new ones. It is so in alignment with my eco-values. I appreciate your list of how to make what you already have even better.
Maybe that’s reason number 11!
Way to go!

Maria Cordi
Maria Cordi
12 years ago

Calla, I went to dig up my pearls because of your pearl stringing blog post. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at them, and I’m reminded that I love them!
I’ve decided that I’ll be wearing them at two family gatherings this Easter. Thank you for showing me what to look for to tell me if my pearls need to be restrung.
Happily they don’t so I can wear them with confidence! Maria

Yvette McIntire
12 years ago

The idea of needing to restring pearls has never occurred to me before! Calla Gold I’m glad you wrote all these reasons I might need to get my pearls re-strung. I guess I thought the pearls would just keep on keepin on with no help from me.
Thanks for another great educational caring for my jewelry post.
Now off to my jewelry box to look for the warning signs…

Erica Ross-Krieger
12 years ago

I took your question (“Is your necklace trying to send you a message?” and went through the non-pearl necklaces I have also. There were several non-working clasps, a few dirty knots on a beaded necklace, and a pouch with a pearl necklace I haven’t worn in years. I’m taking time this weekend to act on the messages I discovered:)
Thanks, Calla.

12 years ago

Lovely post! Calla, even if I don’t wear pearls, I can see how this can be extended to other pieces of jewellery. I have a few sitting in my closet and not being on display, which is really a shame :)

I also liked the way you had images for all the steps, made it so clear rather than the simple description of the problem! Lovely blog, I’ll continue to come for great tips!

12 years ago

Great advice, Calla Gold. I never knew all those facts about pearls. I like that it’s an easy fix to keep my pearls wearable and beautiful.