Things You'll Need
- Replacement pearl
- Jewelry cleaner
- Lump of wax clay
- Disposable cotton gloves
- Bead/pearl reamer
- Pearl glue
- Optional free-standing vice
Pearl rings tend to lose their pearls after a time. Detergent and abuse weaken the glue that holds them on a post or, in the case of a pressure-fit bezel, the edges thin, reducing the holding power. If you have lost your pearl, you have choices. Follow a few steps to replace it yourself or take it to a jewelry store. It is a lot simpler than one would think to replace a lost pearl in either type of setting.
Post Style Ring
Clean the entire piece of jewelry. If your ring has a post, and most women’s rings do, clean the post, seat (the cup that cradles the pearl) and the entire outside to remove any glue, soap or other residue.
Place the ring in a lump of wax clay with the setting facing up. Gently push the ring down so it sits firmly in the clay.
Wearing gloves (pearls will pick up body oils), check your replacement pearl carefully. Check for bubbles, chips, cracks and any thing that might be a flaw. Look for the drilled hole and make sure that it is smooth, and not chipped or damaged.
Holding the pearl in one hand, use the bead/pearl reamer to smooth the hole. To use the reamer, insert just the tip into the very front of the hole and use a gentle, rotating-back-and-forth motion to sand the pearl hole. Do not push the reamer into the hole.
Use the dauber to apply a small drop of pearl glue on the post and a bit on the bottom of the cup that holds the pearl on the ring. Place the pearl on the post and gently press down. A small amount of glue will squish out when the pearl is well seated, wipe this away with a clean dauber.
Let the ring sit undisturbed for 48 hours in the wax lump. Check to make sure the pearl is secure in the setting. If the pearl rocks or seems loose use a pin dipped in pearl glue to reinforce and secure pearl.
The Bezel Set
Bezel settings do not have posts and are called pressure-fit mountings. The metal band that surrounds the stone is called a collar or lip and is pushed tight up against the pearl to hold it in place on the ring. For a bezel ring, your replacement pearl needs to be slightly smaller than the original pearl; just enough to compensate for pressing the collar up against it to hold it securely in place. If using the exact size pearl that has been lost, you will need to apply more glue to the inside of the mounting.
Clean the entire ring--the inside of the collar, the seat, inside and outside of the ring--to remove any oil, debris and old glue. After cleaning, let it dry completely
Place the ring in the wax clay, setting facing up, and gently push down so it sits securely.
Check your replacement pearl for flaws such as chips, seams, folds, bubbles or cracks. Anything that even looks like a flaw should be placed facing down so the ring protects it.
Using the dauber, swab glue on the inside of the cup, collar, seat and anywhere the pearl will come in contact with metal.
With gloves on both hands, slide the ring onto an index finger and, placing one thumb over the other, push the pearl down until you feel it slide into place. You do not need to press hard, the pearl should just roll into place.
Finishing up the ring remount, place the ring in a cloth-wrapped vice and, using a stiff, dull knife, gently push the collar against the pearl.
Remove the ring from the vice, replace it in the wax clay and let it sit for 48 hours until the glue has set completely. Once it is dry, double check to make sure the pearl is not loose. If it is, use a pin and apply more glue to secure it.
For the post pearl ring, order two pearls so that you have a choice if one happens to be flawed. For a bezel setting, choose two different sizes, one the exact replacement size and one slightly smaller.
Bezel rings are more difficult to remount because of the pressure needed to push the collar back into place. You can break or chip a pearl doing this type of remount. Do not use industrial super glue. It will damage the pearl. Pearl glue is designed for pearl chemistry.
- "Industrial Education, Volumes 1-2"; pages 243, 244; 1914
- "Jewelry Making Manual"; pages 75, 78; Sylvia Wicks;1990
- "Jewelry making and design: an illustrated text book for teachers, students"; page 123-124; Augustus Foster Rose, Antonio Cirino; 1917
- gold ring with pearl and diamonds image by pr2is from Fotolia.com