Pearls being strung.

Pearls glorious pearls. Strands of pearls can add a little something-something to any style whether it’s simple elegance or funky fun. And with so many opportunities to wear your pearls, they are bound to need restringing at some point. Even though pearls are most commonly strung with silk, a high-quality and durable thread, time and use can wear it down just like any other fabric. How frequently your pearls will need to be restrung will depend on how well they have been cared for, their weight, age, and how often they are worn.

Over the years, I have had clients who owned their pearls for fifteen years without ever having them restrung. This either means they only wear them once or twice a year or that the pearls really do need to be restrung but the owner just doesn’t realize it. So, pay close attention to your pearls—they may be telling you something.

When a strand is in need of restringing you will notice that the pearls are loose between the knots or that the knots are no longer tight. There will be stretching—showing “extra” silk between pearls—and the silk may look discolored. If there are no knots between the pearls, you will notice extra space between the pearls and they will appear loose on the strand. If you aren’t sure, you can always take it in to your jeweler and ask them to take a quick look.

Stringing is relatively inexpensive to have done once you’ve determined it’s the culprit. The pricing will depend on a few different aspects of your piece:

1. If the pearls are knotted or unknotted.

2. How long the strand is.

3. How many strands there are. For example, if the piece is a double-strand necklace or a five-strand bracelet.

4. If the pearls are graduated, meaning there are multiple sizes of pearls in your piece, usually larger in the front, smaller towards the clasp.

The price for restringing pearls is usually quoted by the inch. The price will range from around $1.50 per inch to $5.00 per inch, depending on the complexity of the piece. For example, an unknotted necklace will be less expensive to string than a knotted and graduated pearl necklace. This is because a knotted and graduated strand must be laid out in the precise order in which it is to be strung, plus knotting is time consuming, and knotting between different size pearls is more difficult than between pearls of the same size.

When pricing a multi-strand necklace or bracelet you will typically be charged per inch per strand. In other words, if your bracelet is seven inches long, and there are four strands of pearls, the cost will be calculated like this: cost per inch x length x the number of stands. Here’s an example:

$2.50 per inch x seven inches = $17.50 x four strands = $70 total cost.

Tip: If your pearl strand breaks, STOP! Check to see if you lost any pearls! If you’re unsure ask the jeweler to measure your neck and necklace and supply pearls accordingly to reach the desired length.

Double strand pearl bracelet.

After you have your pearls restrung, keep in mind that they will have a tighter fit than when you took them into the jeweler. This is because the old silk was stretched out, adding length to the piece. Don’t worry, though, you will adjust to the new feel before you know it!

Newly strung pearls may also look a little “kinked” when you get them back, but that’s just because they too need to adjust. With a little time, the silk will relax and the pearls will settle again. You can speed up with process by hanging them for a few weeks until they relax. Make sure that once they have settled, lining up nice and neat, you keep them stored flat to avoid stretching the silk unnecessarily.

Besides the normal wear and tear, you may also need to have your pearls restrung if the area near the clasp of your silk-strung pearls breaks. Unfortunately, there is usually not enough extra material on the end of a strand for the stringer to use for the repair. If a clasp needs to replaced, most of the time the entire strand must be restrung, too. However, if it’s the actual clasp that is broken and not the end of silk strand, it’s possible that your jeweler may be able to replace it without restringing the piece.

Whether there is an actual issue with your pearls or they’re just being worn often, keep on top of your restringing. Taking care of your pearls will make them last longer and keep them looking stylish!


Jess the Jeweler