Stringing is an exacting craft requiring very specific skills in order to assemble a fine pearl necklace.  A knot is required between each and every pearl so that, should the strand break, the pearls do not fall off the string en masse.  Knots are also required so that the pearls do not come in contact with one another;  if they do, the seemingly soft abrasive qualities of the pearl will, over time, cause damage to the nacre.  Properly done, the knots will be consistent in tension therefore uniform in size.  It is possible to have a necklace strung too tightly as well as too loosely.

Tools of the Trade
Tools of the Trade

To properly string a pearl necklace, it is imperative to use silk thread.  The size (i.e. diameter) of the silk thread will depend on the size of the holes drilled into the pearls. As previously mentioned elsewhere in this website, the holes on real pearls tend to be smaller and more distinct than the holes on glass or plastic pearls.  Silk thread (due to its natural and softer qualities) allows the necklace to lie better on the neck.  The simple fact is that polyester or any other synthetic thread just does not work as well as silk.  It is also because of those very same qualities that silk is more prone to damage from chemicals in cosmetics, hairsprays, and the like;  it is also susceptible to damage from natural body oils and perspiration. 

Over time, silk thread will discolor.

This is why it is recommended that pearl necklaces be restrung annually.

So how are the strands connected to the clasp to form a necklace?  There are generally considered to be three methods:

1.  Endless Method

In this method, there is no clasp.  The necklace is an endless loop with no apparent beginning or end.   You might find this method used  in the longer necklaces (e.g. rope).  In this method, it should be difficult for you to tell where the stringing was connected--the connection should be seamless and unnoticeable.  This particular method requires a high degree of skill from your stringer.

2.  Closed Loop Method

In this method, the necklace is attached directly to the clasp using a 1/4" piece of French wire/bullion . The French wire/bullion is threaded onto the silk thread and looped through the ring on the clasp.  You most likely will find this type of method used on the  fish hook type clasps (as show in the picture below).  The French wire/bullion protects the silk thread from the rubbing that will naturally occur with the clasp when the necklace is being worn.  The use of French wire/ bullion gives a very rich, yet unobtrusive appearance.

3.  Bead Tip Method

This is, by far, the easiest method to use when stringing a necklace.  The picture below shows bead tips.  When stringing, a knot is tied to the end of the silk strand and threaded through the hole in the Bead Tip...the knot, of course is larger than the hole.  The knot is what stops the thread from going through the hole.  When the stringing is completed, the clasp is attached by bending and securing the tip using needle nose pliers.

Bead Tips