Professional Pearl and Bead Stringing is for goldsmiths, jewelry designers and serious amateurs who want or need to learn how to string pearls and gemstones professionally. The course begins with the easiest techniques and builds on them to demonstrate the more difficult skills, trying knots between beads and attaching a clasp to a strand.
Students are introduced to critical jewelry manufacturing concepts in this niche including design versus manufacturing trade-offs, available materials, commercial findings and more.
A lecture on pearls is included since students will undoubtedly be working with this gemstone and will need to answer commonly asked questions from clients.
Upon completion, the student will have completed three necklaces using different techniques.
Whether the student decides to monetize his or her new skills or to use them to make jewelry for personal use, this is a life-changing course, the beginning of a hugely rewarding and creative journey that will last a lifetime.
Explanation of commercial necklace lengths and trade terminology. The "new normal" and the difference between commercial and studio jewelry.
Findings--what they are, how they're used and design, manufacturing and client considerations associated with them.
A description of the tools and materials you'll need for Project One. Includes a discussion of wire including diameter and break weight.
Manufacturing the first necklace using crimps and wire.
Using the crimp tool and when to use crimps.
A description of the tools and materials used in Project Two.
Learning how to attach the first bead tip to your necklace.
A step-by-step demonstration of the critical skill of making knots.
Why knotting is so important. How to identify poorly made jewelry and how to discuss with clients.
Finish the floating necklace by adding the second bead tip.
A review of common mistakes by beginners. This is based on my many years of teaching this course.
A review of the tools and materials you'll need for this project.
How to select and measure thread for your project.
The first step in creating a necklace by securing the gemstones to the clasp with thread is to learn how to make the temporary knot.
Using thread to attach gemstones to a clasp. Part one.
Attaching the gemstones to a clasp using thread. Part II.
Looking at the completed necklace for quality indicators.
Untying bad knots and reaming beads.
An overview of freshwater pearls and their quality factors.
Course conclusion. I welcome your questions and will be sure to answer them. Also, I love seeing images of jewelry created by my students. Many of them have gone on to design beautiful jewelry and it's a pleasure for me to know I've had a hand in it.
I’ve always loved jewelry and the history of jewelry, but my real journey began some twenty five years ago when the clasp pulled off a crystal necklace.
I took it to a bench jeweler I’d used for other repairs but when it was returned to me, I saw something I hadn’t even realized I’d known.Without knots between those crystals, they would rub against one another and the beads would be scratched. The “repair” was unacceptable.
The jeweler was huffy about redoing the necklace and I had the then really startling thought that I could do this, that I could learn to string pearls and beads.
My first step was a local bead shop which offered a class in stringing pearls and beads. The class began and ended with using crimps, important knowledge, of course, but limited.
I then found my way to the Gemological Institute of America which back then offered a course in pearl and bead stringing. I took the course and was hooked. I went on to take most of the courses required for a degree as a graduate gemologist. I also earned the pearl certification from GIA. (My undergraduate degree is from Columbia and my master’s is from Northwestern.) Simultaneously, I began to learn metalsmithing.
I took local courses in gem setting, molding, casting, and soldering. I also studied at the Richmond Institute and took a number of courses at the Revere Institute in San Francisco, studying with, among others, Harold O’Connor, who I consider to be one of the finest studio jewelers working today.
All of this opened my eyes to the wonderful work being done today by metalsmiths and pearl and bead stringers and I opened a small gallery in Houston to show studio jewelry. The gallery grew and I moved it to “Gallery Row” in Houston where I showed work by Harold O’Connor, Cynthia Eid, Sydney Lynch and others. I also showed work by Judith Ubick who is one of the most talented and creative bead stringers working today.
While operating the gallery, I discovered there was a demand for a pearl and bead stringing course, a real one, not one that stopped short with crimps or one that failed to teach the more complex finishing techniques. The demand came from metalsmiths, designers and serious amateurs. The Professional Pearl and Bead Stringing course is built directly upon this course which I taught dozens of times and for which I charged $300.
Pearl and bead stringing isn’t just technique, of course. It means knowing your materials, understanding design and, when necessary, borrowing from other crafts to enhance your own work. (In this respect, macrame, kumihimo, and various fisherman’s and oriental knots come to mind.)
However, developing the basic professional skills in the niche is the critical first step. Once that is taken, other skills and knowledge can be acquired productively as a design vision is developed.
For me, manufacturing jewelry and knowing as much as I can about it is a never ending source of pleasure.
I hope it is for you as well.