Category Archives: Pearl Queries

Got a question about pearls…or about Pearlescence? Here is the place to leave it and we’ll do our best to answer

How are pearls measured?

Can you please clarify regarding dimensions offered on pearl drops? Is this for the drop? If so what is the width


Pearls are always measured at 90 degrees (at right angles) to the drill hole if there is one, so for a drop pearl the measurement is indeed the width.

Ah-ha I hear you say. What about undrilled pearls?  Well, my best answer would be that with round pearls you can’t tell and for anything else it is where the drill hole will be if there was one, if that makes sense.

Pearls are usually measured with accurate calipers.  We use these neat and very accurate electronic ones when measuring pearls for uploading to the website

We measure everything in metric- it’s easier and more accurate. Even when pearl strand lengths are given in inches pearls are measured in mm. That isn’t logical but it is what happens!!

When pearls are being measured en masse to be made into strands or in lots of one specific size they are usually sieved. It took me a while to work out what the pervasive and distinctive rattly noise of pearl sieving was when I first heard it. But it is very accurate too as a way of measuring pearls.



but purely mechanical ones are fine too and are most often used in Hong Kong and China.

Our measurements are accurate to fractions of a millimeter, which is pretty small , but you need to be aware that pearls are organic and will vary a little between strands.

(Many auction etc sellers just copy over the wholesalers size description but these can be inaccurate by a mm or more.)

Which silk to use to string Japanese Cultured pearls?

I need some advice regarding pearl stringing please. I have been asked to string some Japanese Cultured pearls purchased by a friend several years ago.

I need guidance regarding silk size and possible colour. the pearls are not white but a creamy beige. Should I be looking for a close colour match or just use white silk?


Which silk colour?

White stringing silk is not brilliant white. It  is made especially for pearls so it is a gentle white with a touch of cream, so it will be fine with akoya pearls. realistically brilliant white silk would soon get slightly discoloured anyway.

What size?

As for what size…that depends on what method of stringing you are planning to use, and how large the holes are in the pearls. There are about as many different methods of stringing pearls as I’ve had the proverbial hot dinners. (this is how we do it here at Pearlescence  )

Many Japanese akoya pearls – especially early strands (sometimes called 3.5 momme strands because that is what they weighed in the old pearl weight system) – only had the first and last few pearls knotted anyway.

If the pearls at each end have the same size hole as all the others then, unless you are planning to enlarge those holes to 1mm you’ll need size 3 which will allow you to double back and hide your ends. If you can enlarge the holes or they are already 1mm you can go up to size 4 (which is the size we always use)

Size 3 silk

Size 3 silk

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Do you have some French wire or gimp to cover the silk as it attaches to the clasp? The tiny metal coils protect the silk from wearing and give a professional finish?

french wire

french wire

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Before you take the necklace apart it is a good idea to clean the pearls and check the clasp, btw. And do make sure you keep the original order – very easy to mix up the pearls so it all goes horribly wrong

Got a Pearl Question? Ask the Pearlescence Team!

We’ll try to answer any pearl question you may have.

Sample question…I am going on holiday to Thailand. Should I buy some nice south sea pearls from a street vendor whose brother is a pearl farmer while I am there.

Our answer – NO. It will almost certainly be a faked-up freshwater pearl from China.

Question…I’ve seen these Tahtian black pearls on eBay. They are very cheap. Why are your Tahitian pearls so much more expensive?

Tahtian Black Pearls - Dyed freshwater pearls from China

Tahtian Black Pearls – Dyed freshwater pearls from China

Answer – Because our Tahtian pearls come from French Polynesia. What you are looknig at are Chinese freshwater pearls dyed in a colour which is called..Tahtian Black

Question…How many pearls are on a loose pearl strand?

Our Answer …check the photo..the strand you receive will be similar to that though since pearls are organic and vary you may get one or two more or one or two less

Question….Why are your pearls so cheap compared to the High Street

Answer...Wendy goes to Hong Kong to buy pearls and selects every pearl we stock. This means you can buy the best possible pearls at the keenest prices since she can negotiate great deals