Florence, always knot your pearls! My grandmother always told me.   I come from a jeweler family and she should know 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?

Why should you knot your pearls?

Let us start with the traditional way of keeping your pearls in perfect shape. To avoid losing your pearls jewelers knotted their expensive strings of pearls. When the cord breaks you only lose one or 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 can come to fall off. And a knot between each pearl prevents this. So my grandmother’s advice was excellent ‘Florence, knot your pearls’!

This is the way knotting works:

Disadvantages to knot your pearls

  • The pearls are beaded on a silk cord and there are knots placed between the pearls. After 4 to 5 years the cord is stretched 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. Most of the time there comes a little room between the knot and the pearl due to the stretching of the cord. If you see that happen it is time to knot your pearls.
  • When you have small pearls and the string is knotted, the knots look larger than the knots between the larger pearls. Since the size of the knot will be 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 your pearls when they are small.
  • 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 can bead between the pearls to keep them apart. You can bead the pearls on a strong string, use the small bands and you don’t have to restring them.
  • 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 smoothly around your neck.

When do you need to knot your pearls?

Of course, I cannot tell you to knot or not knot your pearls. It is a matter of preference and style. But some ‘rules’ be given 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 your pearls or use a strong thread with the rubber bands.
  • Multi-strand pearl necklaces are difficult to make because the strings should be hanging perfectly. When there are knots between the pearls you cannot make them 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 don’t knot your pearls when it is a multi-strand pearl necklace.
  • 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. You don’t knot your pearls when you have a choker shorter than 16 inches to look more beautiful. But when the necklace is longer than 18 inches the advice is to knot your pearls or use the strong thread with the rubber bands.
  • Long natural pearl necklaces should be knotted. They are heavy and you can wrap them a few times around your knot as a multi-strand necklace or shorten it with a knot. The silk cord will endure a lot of tension, so knotting is a wise thing to do. Besides that, the strong thread, which could be an alternative will look a bit sturdy so that is out of the question.

Want more information?

To be honest I prefer a not knotted pearl necklace because it falls more beautiful and I don’t like the knots, that look so large sometimes. I string my pearls on a strong thread and when necessary I use the rubber bands. Although when I was 6 years old I helped my father knotting pearl necklaces already and loved this ‘job’. And I still can do it.

Anyway… when you want to know more about pearls ask for my free ebook.

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Hugs, Florence from FlorenceJewelshop