Doing the simple things right


Problem 1 - pearl keeps coming off.

The pearl that would not stay on the post.

The pearl that would not stay on the post.

Fixing (remaking) these simple pearl earrings highlights how badly some pieces are made and what it takes to make them right. Not as straight forward as you might think.

Pearls are secured to studs like this using a post and glue. Often a thread is applied to the post to give the glue and the pearl more to grip onto.

In the case of these pearls the fittings had a post that was .3mm in diameter and a hole that was .9mm. The posts had no thread and the pearl had no chance..

When I say .9mm I should write one was .9mm and the other pearl had been overdrilled to 1mm.

Solution: make a 9mm threaded post and one slightly longer that would go further into the pearl past the overdrilled 1mm section.

Problem 2 - the gold keeps going dark

These earring are made in 9ct gold and some alloys of that carat contain a fair bit of copper. Some people, including this customer, react to copper more than others and we end up with tarnished 9ct gold.

Solution: We will use a higher purity gold alloy that contains less copper. The earrings will be remade in 18ct yellow gold.

Problem 3 - super thin


Including the butterflies the earrings weighed .6 grams in 9ct gold. When you make jewellery this thin it leads to problems. Super thin jewellery in 9ct gold is only made that way for a couple of reasons, to match a price point and/or to increase the sellers profit.

Article: Disposable jewellery - the new norm :(

That .6 grams of 9ct contains just .225 grams of pure gold. We will remake these earrings in 18ct gold using about 6 times the pure gold.

Solution 3: Make the earrings thicker/stronger by using more gold.

The post

First task was to make the threaded post. The thread here is very fine but the fit is tight. With the pearl that is over drilled that thread will need to be longer to grab deeper into the pearl past the overdrilled section to secure it.

The inside of the pearl hole and the thread will be covered with glue prior to the fitting of the pearls to the posts. The combination of the right size post, the thread and glue properly securing the pearl.

Making the pearl cup

The pearl cup on the existing earrings was a nice large size that gave the glue good contact with the pearl. We will make them about the same size.

The cups are traced on the plate, drilled, cut out, domed and then attached to the posts.

One more important thing

My butterfly below the much thinner original.

My butterfly below the much thinner original.

Earrings are only as safe as the butterflies that secure them. The butterflies I will mill myself to get a quality I am happy with. You can see in the photo above the butterfly I made shown in the front is clearly thicker than the original above.

Most butterflies are made super thin (even thinner than the ones we are replacing) and the extra weight I use makes them fit firmer and also allows them to be easily adjusted if over time they lose tension.

The outline of the butterflies is marked and the groove cut out using a 3 axis mill. Once that is done the plate is removed and I hand saw the butterflies out.

That extra thickness in the butterlfies secures the earrings firmly and they give an audible click every time they are fitted to the post. If they ever stop clicking they can be re-tensioned.

The end result


Fixing these earring properly took a lot more work than just slapping them on some more standard fittings.

Jewellery chains love making super thin 9ct yellow gold jewellery. Compared to these 18ct earrings I made they could make nearly six pairs of their thin 9ct earrings using the same amount of pure gold.

I am reminded of the saying “buy nice or buy twice”.