Pearl re-stringing services by Sue Runyon Designs by mail within the U.S.A. Professional hand knotting of pearls or other beads, pearl cleaning, custom pearl designs. Work one on one with me to fix or modernize your pearl strands. Sue
Prices / Stringing / Clasp Attachment / Time / Lengthening & Shortening / Pearl Cleaning / Sending Me Your Jewelry / Evaluating Your Pearls / Guarantee & Terms / Other Jewelry Repair / Testimonials & Photos
Professional pearl re-stringing service prices vary depending on size of pearls, length of strand(s), price of the clasp used and whether other types of beads will be added. The standards I use for figuring up the costs are these:
16-18 inch strand of 6-8mm pearls knotted between each pearl using owner's existing clasp $34
7-8 inch bracelet with 6-8mm pearls using owner's existing clasp $22
Multi strand pieces are charged per strand.
Pearl cleaning flat rate of $12 per strand
Rush fee $20. Can be useful during spring bridal season and mid Nov through mid Dec.
I can also re-string other beaded jewelry or "modernize" your pearls into another design with added gemstone beads, pendants, re-making a necklace into a bracelet, new clasp or other modifications.
I often take two or more pearls off a strand to make matching earrings for customers if they request it.
Virginia residents will pay 6% sales tax.
WHOLESALE: I do not offer wholesale pricing on pearl stringing. Large orders may qualify for a volume discount.
To begin a quote, e-mail me the following information at email@example.com. Measure and describe your strand or piece as accurately as you can. It can be helpful to me in determining price if you e-mail me a digital photo of your piece with a ruler in the photo.
- length of strand(s) in inches or cm
- approximate size of pearls/beads in mm
- your address
- your value estimate of the piece for postal insurance
- would you like USPS First Class return mail ($2.75) or Priority ($5.75)?
- do you need additional services such as pearl cleaning?
- anything else I should know
Payment is due up front. Once I know what services you require I will e-mail you a Paypal invoice to pay securely on-line. You do not need a Paypal account. Please do not mail items until we have completely agreed on exactly what I will be doing for you, what the costs will be, and I have e-mailed an invoice and mailing instructions to you. I do not take checks or money orders.
Graduated strands can take a lot more time and extra materials to string and therefore may cost more. Different sized beads often have different sized holes so extra threads may need to be woven in where the beads are larger to make the knots large enough to not pull through the bead holes. I will probably not be able to tell if a graduated strand will require special stringing techniques until I have examined it in person. Weaving costs range from $14-$40 additional per strand.
Return Shipping Cost
USPS First Class Mail (3+ days) $2.75
USPS Priority Mail (2+ days) $5.75
Insurance (required) -- depends on your estimated value of your items. Please do not send me items valued at more than $1000 through the mail. I am not a certified pearl appraiser so you will have to provide this information to me.
Pick up, delivery and on-site service available to jewelry stores in Lorton, Virginia (free) and nearby areas (fuel charge may apply).
|USPS Insurance Rates
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|$200.01 - $300
|$300.01 - $400
|$400.01 - $500
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|When your jewelry arrives I will e-mail you a photo as proof of receipt.
||Your item and all parts are placed in a job tray with your information to keep everything together.
||You may receive photos of components to approve if you need them.
|Or you may receive photos of different layouts if we are re-designing a piece.
||Pearls set out and ready to string.
||Once your piece is completed, I will e-mail you photos before returning it by insured mail.
There are various ways to string pearls. I usually use the traditional method of hand-knotting on a double strand of strong silk thread (usually white or black depending on pearl color though I do have a few other colors). Most sizes of pearls are knotted between each pearl so that the strand has a beautiful drape, the pearls do not rub together, and so that if it ever were to break you would only have a pearl or two fall off the strand. Silk thread is gentle on the delicate pearl and will not "saw" into the nacre of the pearl with wear. If pearls are small, they are generally knotted between sets instead of each pearl to keep them from looking too skimpy. If other beads are used with pearls, such as jade or gold beads, they are also often knotted between sets.
If the pearls are not too precious and are interspersed with gemstone or metal beads, I will often use a strong bead cord to knot them instead of silk. This insures that the sharper edges of the gemstone or metal beads will not cut through the stringing material with wear. I use a double strand of braided 10-50lb test (depending on the size of the drill holes) nylon bead cord that is coated and very closely resembles silk. This is a step up from the type of bead cord that is now generally used for all but the most expensive pearls that you would see at fine jewelry stores. Bead cord also resists dirt and oil build-up that can leave the knots looking tired over time.
Pearls strung on silk, and which are worn frequently, should be re-strung once every 1-3 years. Silk is a natural material which will stretch and degrade over time. You can usually tell if your pearls need to be re-strung if the silk is dirty or if the pearls slide between the knots at all. They should also be re-strung if they've been stored and not worn for a long time. Pearls strung on bead cord should only have to be re-strung if the the bead cord has been stretched by frequent wear over time and the pearls are no longer tight against the knots. When I string, I "pre-stretch" the bead cord so this is unlikely to happen unless the beads are very heavy or if the wearer tends to pull on them during wear (I admit that I tend to pull on my pearls, but it's so hard to resist touching them).
Because most stringing materials stretch over time, I knot everything just a little tight so they may appear slightly kinked at first. The weight of the strand and the heat and moisture from your body while wearing them will stretch the strand after a few uses. If they aren't strung slightly tight at first, the pearls will have room to slide between knots which does not look good and can cause wear.
Lately I've been getting a lot of requests to use small knots between the pearls. The size of the knots is determined by the size of the drill hole in the pearls or beads. I do tighten the knots down as much as possible.
On most pearl strands there are slight variations in size, quality and luster. When I re-string I pick the biggest and best pearls from your strand to go front and center and the smallest to go near the clasp. This makes the clasp a little easier to fasten and the slight graduation makes for a visually graceful strand. If you have a higher quality strand this will probably already have been done and I will therefore keep all your pearls in the same order. If it has not been done I will do it for you unless you specify otherwise.
The weakest point of any bracelet or necklace is the point where the clasp attaches to the strand. Because of this, I spend extra time covering the stringing material with the tiniest coiled wire which is called gimp, bouillon or French wire. This prevents the metal of the clasp from rubbing against the stringing material and makes the attachment much more durable. This step is generally skipped by most pearl stringers resulting in a weakened attachment. I also spend a great deal of time weaving the ends of the stringing material back through the holes of the last three pearls on each end so that it will never unravel or come undone. Since most pearls are now strung on bead cord, most pearl stringers just tie the ends to the clasp and melt it on by holding the ends briefly under a cigarette lighter. Sometimes they will glue it or knot the end and clamp it to the clasp with a crimp bead or bead tip. All of these methods will work OK for a while if done correctly, but are not as secure over time as the classic methods that I use. Occasionally I'll run across pearls that have had the stringing material glued through them. Sadly, this often makes the pearls near the clasp unusable for re-stringing if the glue is not water soluable.
NOTE that many fine jewelry stores who re-string pearls on silk will attach clasps by using bead tips/clamps at the end of the strand instead of using french wire and weaving back through the last three pearls. This is done because very few jewelry stores have anyone on staff with the skill or patience for fine pearl stringing. Metal edges on the bead tips will cut into the silk over time. When re-stringing a piece that has bead clamps I remove them and weave the ends back through. This may shorten the strand by a few mm.
I have a small selection of clasps in stock in both sterling silver and gold filled as well as some magnetic clasp styles in case you need me to change a clasp. The traditonal type of clasp used for pearls is a filigree "fish" shaped clasp because even if it becomes unfastened the hook usually still catches on the clasp for added safety, but many clasp types can be used. Contact me for clasp prices.
My turn around time is usually only 3-5 business days. Allow 2-3 extra days for drying time if I am also cleaning your pearls for you. Allow extra time for long, complex, graduated or multi-strand pieces. Bridal season, Christmas and when I'm on vacation, times can me much longer.
I'm often asked how long it takes me to string pearls. If all goes smoothly, the approximate time it takes me to string a 16-18 inch strand of 6-7mm pearls on silk is about an hour. Time will vary depending on the size of the pearls as well as the length of the strand. Much of the time is taken up in attaching the clasp properly, therefore a bracelet takes nearly as much time as a necklace. All too often, things don't go smoothly as weaving back through the very tiny holes in pearls that already have a double strand of stringing material in them can be nearly impossible. If I can't weave the final ends back through I have to cut the pearls apart and start over. Double and triple strand necklaces can take a very long time to string.
I've been to China and have watched girls string pearls at the speed of lightening and sometimes people expect that of me. I just have to say they don't use the same methods. They usually take the ends of the temporary strand and knot a single strand of bead cord to it and fish it through, then finger tie knots without stopping to tighten them, and use the cigarette lighter method to melt the cord to the clasp. Often this works well, but sometimes it doesn't. I've seen a lot of very badly strung pearls. I've also seen a lot of nice pearls that have been strung without any knots or with the wrong gauge of silk thread or bead cord. I sometimes see pearls strung on cotton thread which degrades quickly. Classic pearl stringing is an art that takes a lot of practice and requires having a good selection of stringing materials on hand to be ready for each situation.
LENGTHENING & SHORTENING
Shortening offers the opportunity to either get rid of a few flawed pearls or to remove some to use to make drop earrings or a pendant. I'm often asked to "just take a few pearls off the end instead of re-stringing." Unfortunately, this can rarely be done with the traditional methods that I use. The entire piece must be re-strung because the ends must be woven back through the last few pearls or beads.
Lengthening can be done if pearls were never knotted. Adding knots adds some length--generally an inch or two on a necklace. Strands can also be lengthened with an extender chain, by adding some smaller pearls near the clasp or by mixing in other types of beads.
Often it is a good idea to clean your pearls right before re-stringing them. This is usually done while they are still on the old stringing material, but not always. You can usually tell if they need to be cleaned by looking at the stringing material and seeing if it looks dirty. There's really no magic or skill involved in cleaning the pearls except for careful handling and keeping them far away from the drain! I use a gentle natural liquid soap (not a detergent) with no dyes or perfumes in it and a lot of clean, room temperature water in a bowl away from the sink. I carefully clean them by hand without rubbing the pearls together. I use a soft baby washcloth on them. Then they are rinsed several times in bowls of clean water and patted dry with a soft cloth. The pearls are then carefully cut off the old stringing material, without scratching the pearls, and allowed to dry for a day or two in order to make sure all water evaporates out of the drill holes before re-stringing.
EVALUATING YOUR PEARLS
You will have to give me an estimate of the value of your pearls so I can give you a quote on return insured shipping. I am not an appraiser so I cannot give you a value on your pearls. Note that due to the current high price of silver and gold and the increasing price of pearls, your strand may be worth more than you originally paid. I do not accept pearls valued at more than $1000 to re-string though the mail.
I will also need to know the approximate size in mm of your pearls and the length of your strand. Strands are measured along the entire length of each strand from one end of the clasp to the other or around the entire loop of a continuous strand. Note that if the pearls on your strand are sliding between the knots it will be returned to you knotted tightly and will therefore be shorter than before. It is a good idea to count the number of pearls on your strand before sending them. Let me know any other details such as if you want some pearls removed for me to make earrings or a pendant with, you need a new clasp or if you want your strand re-strung on silk or bead cord.
Sadly, not infrequently, someone will show me Grandma's treasured pearls only to have me point out that they are simulated pearls. If Grandma was a depression era bride it's particularly likely. Pearls were not cultured until the early 1900s and not commonly given to brides until the 1930s. They did not become commonplace until the 1950s when they were often given to sweet sixteens. You can check your pearls, to a certain extent, by looking at the drill holes of the pearls in good light--can you see any chips or peeling paint? Is there a little ridge around the drill hole indicating that it was painted? You can also give it the "tooth test" by rubbing the pearls across your teeth (doesn't work with dentures). Real pearls will feel slightly gritty and fake pearls often feel smooth (although there is a high-end immitation pearl brand called "Majorica" that also feels gritty). Also check to see if there are any variations in color, luster, size and shape or any blemishes. Real pearls are natural products. If they are perfectly uniform they are either fake or very expensive. I'm not a pearl appraiser and I'm perfectly happy to re-string simulated pearls for you, but some people decide it's not worth it if they are not real. Other people decide it's a good opportunity to do something more modern with the simulated pearls and have me add other beads to make a new custom design. Many people choose to add jade beads for that classic pearl and jade look.
GUARANTEE / TERMS
There are no refunds on pearl or bead re-stringing or repair services. If you are unhappy for any reason, you may return the item to me to be re-strung one time within two weeks of receipt. Obtain return authorization by phone or e-mail before sending so I know to expect your return.
Unless you tell me otherwise, I may use photos of your item and/or your feedback on my website, blog, facebook page or other social media to show others examples of work that I have done. I use customers' first names and state or country to identify their quotes unless I have specific permission to use other information from a customer. I do not sell or give customer contact information to anyone. Your privacy is important to me.
SENDING ME YOUR PEARLS
You must contact me to make arrangements for sending or bringing me your pearls to re-string. I prefer e-mail contact rather than phone so that I have a good record of our correspondence to refer back to.
Payment is required up front. You will be sent a Paypal invoice via e-mail with a link to pay securely on-line. You do not need to have a Paypal account. With Paypal processing I will never see any of your banking or credit card information. I do not accept checks or money orders.
The invoice will include my shipping address and instructions. Please send your jewelry carefully bagged and wrapped in soft packaging in either a small box or bubble mailer. Include all parts. Do not send jewelry boxes with the strands as that will add to shipping prices. Please make sure your address is included inside the package as well as on the outside and mail via insured mail.
I will e-mail you a photo of your jewelry when I receive it as proof of receipt. I may e-mail you photos during the process if necessary, and will send final photos when your item is complete before I ship it back.
You may use the quality photos of your item you receive from me for your insurance inventory purposes or for resale and advertising purposes if you are selling the pieces once they are repaired. I will usually send one photo with a ruler in it to show scale and a pretty shot and detail shot. If you share the item photos with friends on social media, I ask that you link to this page.
You will receive an automated message through your payment e-mail address which contains a tracking number for your package when it is returned or an e-mail from me letting you know they are on the way. Note that all packages insured for $200 or more are required to be signed for by the USPS. If you are not present when the package is delivered you may have to pick it up at your local post office.
OTHER JEWELRY REPAIRS
I'm not a jeweler so I can't fix some things, set stones or drill pearls, but I can do many different types of repairs, changes or sizing adjustments on beaded jewelry. One common request I get is to change a hard to work clasp out for a magnetic one for someone who has a hard time fastening a traditional clasp.
My price for repair services other than pearl re-stringing is $24 per hour and I will give you an estimate prior to beginning work. Payment is due up front and I will refund any overage if the repair takes less time than anticipated.
I really enjoy making broken strands whole again.
© 2009 Sue Runyon Designs. All rights reserved.
Facebook photo album of some of my work
"Hi Sue, Thank you for letting me know and sending photos - what a nice touch. Your service is impeccable and as a small, independent business owner, it is nice to see someone else who has my standard of customer service and attention to detail. I will definitely promote your services whenever possible and will keep you in mind for any needed future jewelry repair. I look forward to receiving my jewelry and wearing a bracelet that has sat in disrepair in my jewelry box for ages. Thanks again, Amy" (California)
"Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the amazing necklace. It's beautiful. I have been wearing it a bunch. It has amazing craftsmanship. I have passed along your information to my aunt who may be in touch to get her pearls fixed up. Thanks again so much!" Larissa (Arizona)
"They look marvelous! Such tight, perfect knots. You are such a skilled jeweler and I'm so impressed at your professional manner of doing business via mail. Wish I had discovered you a year ago! Thank you so much for your service." Laura (Nebraska)
"Hi Sue,I received my treasures on Monday and I am simply tickled. I love my repaired briolette, it is even better than original when I first got it. I love my pearls too; both bracelets fit perfectly. All is great! Thank you ever so much!"
"This restringing service is a GREAT deal! My necklace was complicated to restring, and Sue had the skill to know exactly what to do to make the necklace perfect! I feel I got first-rate service for a great price! She also made me a beautiful pair of earrings out of some of the beads. I'm very happy with this purchase!" Tracy (Ohio)
"Thank you!! The package arrived in yesterday's mail and I am so thrilled. The bracelet and pendant are gorgeous. I love them. Thank you for everything. Working with you is delightful and your creations are divine. I look forward to future collaborations. Again, thanks!" Stephanie (Massachusetts)
"I received the jewelry today. Wow, it is more beautiful in person than it is on the computer. Owning custom designed jewelry makes you feel so special. Everything fits perfectly and your workmanship is outstanding. The beads have special meaning to me and I am so glad to wear them in a style that fits me. It has been a fun and delightful experience. Thank you so much." Loretta (Florida)
For information on caring for your pearls visit my Pearl Care Guide