Can I Dip My Pearls in a Liver of Sulfur Solution and Other Questions,...

The Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop is coming up this Sunday, September 15th and I’ve had a few questions from people who are participating, so I wanted to get some answers out to everyone and also give you some helpful hints and places to go for information. 

*Clicking on the highlighted links through out this post 
will take you to other sites/videos with helpful information.

Plus, I will have a 'Link List' at the bottom of this post with websites and video links full of helpful information for you!

Okay, here we go - one question I received was:

“Can I liver of sulfur my finished wire work piece with my pearls, or do I have to oxidize my metal first and then create my piece?”   

Great question!  And, safety first here, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any solution(s) you are using whether it’s Liver of Sulfur, Silver Black, etc. and always wear protective eye gear.  

Here’s my answer:  You should not place your pearls or other porous gemstones (such as turquoise, etc.) or fragile beads (painted, AB coated crystals, etc.) into a solution of Liver of Sulfur.  
Technically, you should oxidize your metal (silver, copper, etc.) prior to working with or assembling your piece.
Now, have I ever placed my finished piece along with my pearls into a solution of Liver of Sulfur – yes.  
Should I have? No, not really.  
Why did I do it? Because I was lazy (just stating the truth here folks!) and I wanted to see what would happen to my pearls. (Granted, I didn’t do this with my ‘super-good’ pearls!!)
So, what happened? 
Well, my pearls came out just fine after about a 30 second dip in some LOS. Absolutely perfect. Not a problem at all. 


Pearl, Turquoise and Sterling Silver Wire
Wrapped Pendant "Freya"
Before and After an LOS Solution Dip

Although, another time, when I left my pearls in some LOS solution for a couple of minutes, one of them had a dullness to their nacre that wasn’t there prior to the LOS dip and one time it even turned a white pearl a rather dull, gray color. It was hard to see right off the bat, but in certain lights you could tell it had lost its original white color and that something was a bit ‘off’. 

It's a bit hard to see here in this photo, but the pearl on the right has lost
a bit of it's beautiful luster. If I had a before and after pic, it would
probably be a lot easier to tell the difference.
So, if you have poor quality pearls with extremely thin nacre or chipped nacre (think large hole pearls that have chips around their holes, etc.) you will want to LOS your metal prior to assembling your jewelry if at all possible. If not, then a quick ‘dunk’ might be okay – but then it might not. So, ‘dunk’ at your own risk,…or well, at your pearl’s risk! 
A great alternative if you cannot oxidize your piece until it’s finished and you have stones in your design that you are afraid may be affected by a Liver of Sulfur solution is the eco-friendly, boiled egg method! 

*The highlighted link above takes you to
Rena Klingenberg's site and also has a video!*

Yes, you can boil an egg, peel it, cut it in half and pop it in a seal-able plastic bag or plastic Tupperware type bowl, seal it up, and the sulfur in the egg yolks will eventually oxidize/blacken your piece without harming your stones/beads.  Now, this does take time,…20 minutes to 2 hours or more, it just depends on the eggs.  So, this is not for the impatient crafter, but it is a great alternative that doesn’t harm your beads/stones (at least none that I know of so far anyway). 
*One word of caution if you use Silver Black to blacken your work: don’t let it touch any of your pearls/beads/stones.  Or anything else for that matter – clothes, fingers, your desk, etc. - I’ve had it turn mine black,….well, dark gray/brownish. It wasn’t pretty. So if you’re just using a dab of Silver Black to blacken some stampings you’ve done on metal and you’re just touching it to one small area, that’s fine, just make sure you avoid all of your pearls, stones, beads, etc.  

If you're interested in further info on darkening your metals (silver copper, brass, etc.), hop on over to the Artisan Whimsy site and watch a little video by Cool Tools that Linda Younkman posted about their Patina Gel.
Okay, some other questions people have asked me recently in regards to my pearls are: 
Q: What cord do you use to hand knot your pearls? 

A: It really depends on my project(s) but I use Griffin Silk or Griffin Nylon in various sizes to hand knot most of my regular strands of pearls or to string vintage and antique strands that clients give me to re-string/repair and preserve.   

I love using C-lon (my pref!) or Superlon nylon thread/cording  (oh the colors of both!) for my ‘tin-cup’ style of hand knotted necklaces and I’ve used both C-lon and S-lon along with different sizes of tuff cord for my beaded wrap (Chan Lu Style) bracelets, too. 


All of these products work fine with little to no stretch or color fading and it’s a personal preference and usually depends on the stones I’m working with and the flexibility or stiffness I need/want with each project. 


 This past year, I’ve become a major fan of the waxed jewelry cord that Sandra over at “The Knotty  Do It All”  has to offer vs. the waxed linen or cotton I’ve found every where else (Etsy and more).  There’s three major reasons why I like the waxed jewelry cord that Sandra offers over other cords. 

First is its ability to be melted/cauterized with a thread zapper or lighter – a great alternative to snipping cord and using glue – woo hoo!!  Even though I’ve had people tell me and I have even seen them use their thread zapper in videos on regular waxed linen, I’ve never really had success with it – just burns it, doesn’t really ‘melt’ it into place -  but with the spools of waxed jewelry cord that Sandra offers, you can ‘zap’ away with success because it’s a synthetic, and not actual linen or cotton.   

The second reason is it’s large enough to hold up to some really large hole pearls, yet small enough to fit through some smaller holed ones. And, if you twist it just right, you can pull the strands apart and knot/string with them separately for even tinier holed beads and then join them back together. Awesome!
And the third reason is that it comes in a nice array of colors that don’t bleed/fade and it’s just waxy enough, but not overly waxy, which is wonderful.


So, if you’re into waxed linen cord, go check out Sandra’s Knotty Do It All shop – it’s awesome. So’s the Knotty Do It all Board. I’ve had my board for three or more years now. I use it all the time and I LOVE it!  And, she just came out with a smaller, more compact and portable size called the
Little Knotty Do It All board, too – way cool!! 

Plus, Sandra's got a bunch of videos showing you how to create various designs using the Knotty  Do It All Board that are just great, too. 
Another Q:  Where do you get your larger holed pearls? Do you purchase them from someone or drill them yourself?
A: I do have a couple of places I purchase my large hole pearls, but this year, my hubby started drilling them for me and he's starting to become my main 'supplier'.  

He drills them with my foredoom flex shaft using a little drill press that I purchased from Connie Fox several years back (If you ever get the chance to take a class from Connie - DO IT - She's Awesome!!).

He uses titanium drill bits (and yes, he goes through a lot of them – so diamond ones would be better I think), and goes very slowly, so as not to burn or chip my pearls, (my babies!!) and makes sure they are moistened with water while drilling. 
I asked him to do this for me so I can provide them in my Etsy shop to sell and he said ‘NO WAY’.

He says it’s too hot in the garage (especially this time of year here in the AZ desert) and that it’s a slow and tedious process that takes patience and he only does it for me because he loves me and I pay him in Beer! LOL!! 

So, sorry, unless I want to start drilling them all myself I probably won’t have any large hole pearls for sale in my Etsy shop.

Or, if I ever do, it will be in extremely limited quantities and possibly only once or twice a year. 

I'll give you a 'heads-up' here on the blog and over on both of my Facebook pages should I ever have some listed.

Now, as far as where I purchase my large holed pearls that we don’t drill ourselves,…well, come back on Sunday to the Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop to get a list of my suppliers! 

(or, check out the link list below and browse through a few of those sites and you might spot some!)

Sorry to make you wait, but part of the blog hop is listing our suppliers and where we get our pearls so that afterwards we can all check out new shops and suppliers and shop for more great pearls!  (Fun! Fun!)
I hope this has helped with some of the questions you had about working with pearls in your designs.

For information on how to mix them with various materials in your jewelry designs, if that’s what you’re creating for the blog hop, (but remember, it doesn’t have to be jewelry) you can check out the February 2013 issue of Bead Trends Magazine. I have an article I did for them in their Jewel School Section on using pearls in your handcrafted jewelry designs. 
And, feel free to click on over to my ‘gallery’ section here on the blog (button across the top up there under the header) and see some various designs I’ve created using pearls and other materials.


 Or you can check out my Pearls! Pearls! Pearls! Pinterest Board for some really cool ideas on using pearls in and on just about everything! 
(Gotta love Pinterest!) 
If you’ve got any other questions, feel free to post them here in the comments below or email me (email button at the top right side of the blog) and I’ll answer you as quickly as I can!
Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Pearl Talk!


  1. Great post Shel! I wish I had not missed your deadline for the pearl challenge. Cords, fibers and pearls are right up my alley and those materials always inspire me. I will enjoy checking in and seeing what everyone posts! I have the Knotty do it all and I am glad Sandra has come up with a smaller version because I actually use my Easy Knotter more because it is so much lighter and portable for simple pearl and stone knotting projects. Good luck with the challenge!

    1. Thanks Tracy! I too am so glad Sandra has come put w/a smaller version of the Knotty Board. I also use my easy knotter board for the smaller projects, too - it is nice, light and portable. And feel free to 'jump in' if you get the chance and have anything created using pearls this weekend - I'm going to try to do the Inlinkz tool thingy so people can just add their posts and hop around!

  2. awesome post Shel! so much great info in here!! and I simply LOVE the large hole pearls .... being able to use leather with pearls :) warms my heart :O .... you'll see pearls and leather from me next weekend!

  3. Love this post, so much good information. Yhanks for sharing!
    Lori in Atlanta

  4. Worth repeating...this is a wonderful post full of gifts. Thanks for sharing your expertise and experiences with us. You've given us not only a challenge, but also links and resources!
    We all benefit! And can't wait to see all the pearls on Saturday!


  5. Wow! Thank you for all the great info!!! All excited for the upcoming hop :0

  6. This post makes me want to repeat what I once said to you: write a book!

  7. WoW! This post looks very amazing and beautiful designs. Loved this. Thank you so much for sharing this post.
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Thanks for sharing what you have to say - I love hearing your comments!