When I was a young girl I help my father in his jeweler shop with picking up the pearls from the broken pearl strings. Most of the time the pearls are expensive and when the string break the pearls roll everywhere, in small places, where only very small fingers and short people can reach them. So when you asked me at that time ‘Is it wise to know your pearls?’ I would say YES YES!!!
My grandmother always told me that a great pearl necklace should be knotted. Period. I am from a jeweler family and my grandmother knows her business. But there are old Mikimoto pearls that are not knotted and in perfect shape. Is it a tradition to knot your pearls? Or are there modern solutions to keep your pearls safe and healthy? Why should you knot your pearls or shouldn’t you?
Let us start with the traditional way of keeping your pearls in perfect shape. To avoid losing your pearls jewelers knot their expensive strings of pearls. When the cord breaks you only lose one of two pearls and not the whole string. That is if you notice losing your pearls, otherwise, the whole string is gone.
Besides the reason to prevent losing your pearls the knot is a kind of buffer so that the pearls don’t rub against each other. The nacre of the pearl is precious and soft and when the pearls hit each other all the time the nacre comes off. And a knot between each pearl prevents this.
The pearls are beaded on a silk cord and there are knots placed between the pearls. After 4 to 5 years the cord stretches and becomes thinner. You have to ask a jeweler to restring the pearls. They charge per knot! When the cord is getting dark you know that you need to restring the pearls. And when there is a little space between the knot and the pearl due to the stretching of the cord, it is time to watch your pearls.
When you have small pearls and the string is knotted, the knots look larger than the knots than the pearls. And the size of the knot is not always the same. This is not so beautiful (it looks more like a rosary than a pearl necklace) and you can decide not to knot smaller pearls.
The idea that the knot will separate and protect the pearls from rubbing is a bit old-fashioned. There are very small black or white rubber bands on the market you bead between the pearls to keep them apart. You bead the pearls on a strong string, use the small bands and you don’t have to restring them and it’s safe for the pearls.
The knots between the pearls disrupt the ‘flow’ or the shape of the necklace. With a normal strong string and rubber bands, the necklace falls smooth around your neck.
This brown white necklace is made with white Biwa pearls and brown freshwater pearls. Not knotted.
What kind of pearl necklaces need knotting and which don’t?
Of course, I cannot tell you to knot or not to knot your pearls. It is a matter of preference and style. But you find some ‘rules’ here:
Natural large pearls (more than 1 cm) are expensive and heavy. When you choose the string them on a silk cord that can stretch and break, the advice is to knot the string of pearls or use a strong thread with the rubber bands.
Multistrand pearl necklaces are difficult to make because the strings have to hang perfectly below each other. When there are knots between the pearls it is very difficult to make it perfect because every knot is just a tiny little bit different in size and the space between the knot and the pearl may differ too. So no knots for multi-strand pearl necklaces.
and more tips…
A single strand natural pearl necklace can be knotted, but they look great without the knots too. It depends on the length of whether knotting is a wise thing to do. When chokers are shorter than 16 inches it is safe without the knots and it looks more beautiful. But when the necklace is longer than 18 inches the advice is to knot the pearl necklace or use the strong thread with the rubber bands.
Long natural pearl necklaces must be knotted. They are heavy and you can wrap them a few times around your neck as a multi-strand necklace or shorten it with a knot. The silk cord endures a lot of tension, so knotting is a wise thing to do.
To be honest I prefer a ‘not knotted’ pearl necklace because it falls more beautiful and I don’t like the knots, that look too large sometimes. I string my pearls on a strong thread and when necessary I use the rubber bands.
Anyway… when you want to know more about pearls ask for my free ebook. Just click on the link and I send it immediately to your email address. So just click!