How to Make a Fresh Water Pearl Bracelet

Learn how to make a fresh water pearl bracelet with this Howcast video about how to make jewelry.

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Jewelry is expensive! Put your creativity to work and save tons of money by learning how to make your own earrings, bracelets and necklaces with these Howcast tutorials. You'll learn stringing, knotting, and wire-wrapping techniques; how to work with leather and cord; and even some simple metalsmithing. The step-by-step instructions make it easy to start designing and crafting your own jewelry line today.

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Hi, I'm Tam, and we're going to make a freshwater pearl bracelet. Real pearls, like freshwater pearls or South Sea pearls, you want to knot them so that they don't bang into each other and damage the pearl. It depends on how valuable your pearls are, but most pearl jewelry is knotted for this reason. So I've already strung on all of my pearls, and I put them in sort of the order I kind of like. I'm using a mix of natural color. Well, these are all natural, but these are natural white and natural gray, and I've sort of put them in the order that I want to them look on a gray cord. A finished bracelet is usually about 7 inches, including the clasp, but if you're using something tall, you have to take that into consideration because you need to allow room for the tallness of the bead. Normally, it would be 7 inches, but the thicker or taller your material is, you need to allow for that. So basically what I do is I would put on a bunch of the materials, then I would measure. I put on seven, but, as you can see, this isn't even close, so I'm going to need to add a couple more. Sometimes when you buy especially gemstone beads, they are drilled with a tapered drill bit, so one end of the bead hole might be bigger than on the other end. So you need to make sure that your stringing material and your needle fits through both ends. The more expensive stones that you buy are better drilled, and they are usually drilled on both ends. And then you can allow a little bit for the knots, as well, so I think that should be sufficient. So I've already started knotting here, so I'm going to continue, and I'm going to put my tweezer in. On something like this, it's also fun to experiment with color string. I have some samples that I'll show where you can use that instead of a matching string color to your beads. You can sort of also use like a red, if you just want to make your design a little bit more different, but the normal string choice is usually to match the bead. I'll show you some of the samples we have where we use brighter colors in the string. There are a lot of tools, also called a knot maker, which I have never really tried, but I think this is just as easy as anything. Because I think with the knot maker, I don't know how it affects your string size, but with the tweezers, it'll work with any material, and it's pretty easy once you just practice a lot and get used to the whole movement. So basically I finished the whole stringing, and I'm going to add the clasp. Now I'm going to add the jump ring because I already have the hook on the end. I want to make sure I match it to the French wire on the other end, so I think that was a little longer. I'm going to put the crimp on first, then the French wire, and then I'm going to add my jump ring. So I used a silver French wire to sort of just work back with the gray beads, so that gives it some nice detail. Then I put on the jump ring, and I can find my French wire. So then I'm going to put the jump ring on, and we center the jump ring onto the French wire like so. Then I have to put the needle through the crimp again. Now you're making a loop. So I'm going to move my French wire down to the knot, and I'm going to pull. I'm going to spread the French wire so that it covers the loop and covers the silk. This also reinforces the silk because then your metal jump ring or your metal clasp is not rubbing against the silk directly. There's like a barrier in between. It got all bunched up here, so you just have to kind of spread the coils with your fingers to cover the, just like that. I leave a space because I'm going to make a knot here before I cut the silk off, so then I make sure the two pieces of silk are parallel before I use the crimping pliers. Then I'm going to close it. Then, before I cut this off, I'm going to make a knot. You want to make this knot sort of close to the other knot at the beginning here, your last knot, so I'm going to hold it. You make the knot, so then you basically have something like that. Now I'm going to show you how to use glue as the last finishing technique before you cut off any of the strings. So this is the glue I like to use. It's called G-S Hypo Cement, and it has this really, really fine tip, which is really good for getting into the little knots. So basically what you want to do is shoot the glue wherever you're going to trim. Like, I have excess string here, and I want to go down a little bit further on the string so when I cut, it covers the cut and the string won't fray. So here I have a knot, I'm just going to put a little glue here, and this glue is great because it dries clear. A lot of times, like Super Glue, some people use as well, but it doesn't really dry clear. There's also epoxy, but that also doesn't dry clear. This is the best glue to use for stringing because it has a tip and then it dries clear, so it doesn't discolor your string. So basically I shot the glue, and I'm going to wait a little bit for it to dry. Then I take my snippers. It has the straight edge, and you want to use something very sharp, so I'm going to put the straight edge where I want the clean cut. So basically I'm going to do this. You've got to make sure you don't cut anything that you don't want to cut. So make sure, before you cut, to put your tool right exactly where you want it. Then you just snip, and that's it.

Expert

  • Tam Tran

    Tam Tran, a designer and metalsmith, uses ancient jewelry techniques to create work influenced by ancient history, tribal cultures, and exploration of raw materials. After a career as a design director in the fashion industry, Tran pursued her interest in becoming an artisan and trained as a goldsmith at the Jewelry Arts Institute, where she learned classical jewelry-making techniques. Her interactive studio/shop in downtown New York, Lost Wax Studio, showcases her limited production hand-fabricated jewelry and offers jewelry workshops. She also leads workshops at institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Art+Design in NYC.