Measuring Pearl Strand and Bracelet Lengths

A question we get quite often is, “How do I measure the length of my pearl bracelet/strand?”

The easiest answer is by measuring the total length of the strand from end to end, including the full length of the clasp on one side to the jump ring connecting to the “tongue,” or part that is inserted into the clasp when fastened.

Click the image below to zoom in on an example.

Measuring pearl strands and bracelets

The bracelet measures exactly 7.5 inches while the necklace/strand measures exactly 16 inches.

But why is length rarely perfectly exact the way it always is with chains or other jewelry?

A strand will rarely measure the exact indicated length. This is because no two pearls are alike; they are organic gems that are categorized according to a size spectrum. Therefore, a person might measure their strand and notice that the expected 18 inches in length may actually be more like 18.1 inches. This is especially true with strands that consist of larger pearls. The finished necklace may measure 18.05 inches because if one pearl were to be removed, the strand would then only measure 17.9 inches. An experienced and professional stringer will know this and he/she will aim for the absolute closest to 18 inches possible.

Knotting in between each pearl will add length to a strand, therefore what was a 16-inch loose hank (unknotted temporary strand) before stringing will probably turn into an 18-inch finished necklace once we knot in between each pearl and add the length of the clasp.

If you purchased a necklace or bracelet some time back, you might notice that it seems a bit longer now than when you first purchased it. This is because most necklaces are strung on silk thread, which loosens over time, and which may lead to the pearls having slightly more space between one another than when the necklace was freshly strung. In a similar fashion, restringing a necklace with thinner thread or thicker thread might make the length of the necklace slightly shorter or longer, respectively.

A tip for bracelets: If you usually wear 7.5-inch bracelets (the standard length), and wish to purchase a bracelet composed of large or very large pearls, you will most likely need the bracelet to be slightly longer than usual in order to compensate for the space that the diameter of the pearls take up.

Effecting Change, with Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls

Continuing with the video series from the 2014 Pearl-Guide Ruckus in Palos Verdes, here is Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls giving a presentation about his life on a Tahitian pearl farm and about effecting change with sustainable pearl farming.

Pearls and the Environment, by Douglas McLaurin

As promised, here is the first of several videos shot at the 2014 Pearl-Guide Ruckus held in Palos Verdes Estates, California.

Douglas McLaurin gives a fantastic overview of the Mexican pearl industry and specifically what impacts his pearl farm has on the environment.

Provoked Baroques: A New Tahitian Pearl on the Horizon

I love Tahitian pearls. More specifically, I love the dark exotic colors of Tahitian pearls – the colors found almost exclusively in smaller size ranges. Large Tahitian pearls are highly valued, but often lack the color and luster of their smaller counterparts because larger pearls most often come from larger, older pearl oysters. As the oyster ages, it begins to lose the ability to produce fine pearl nacre. But what if there were a way to induce small, young pearl oysters into growing larger pearls?
Provoked baroque Tahitian pearlsA company out of Japan by the name of Imai Seikaku has developed a new sort of nucleus that comes in the shape of a small blue pill. This is no ordinary nucleus, but one that is composed of a super-absorbent organic substance which soaks up surrounding liquids and expands. As it expands it begins to “blow out the pearl sac,” as my friend and pearl farmer Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls put it. It essentially induces even a small, young pearl oyster to grow a large pearl sac where an equally large nucleus can be placed.
Provoked baroque Tahitian pearl When harvested, the first graft pearl is free-form in shape and filled with liquid substance, which when drained, leaves a hollow Tahitian pearl. Unlike freshwater soufflé pearls from China, hollow pearls can’t be legally exported from Tahiti so they’re discarded. In their place farmers insert large, baroque nuclei. This second graft results in giant bead-nucleated Provoked Baroques that intentionally look indistinguishable from massive keshi pearls except in one way – they have screaming luster and intensely dark colors. They are even better than traditional keshi and much larger than average keshi.

Common keshi compared to this new breed of Tahitian pearl

Common keshi compared to this new breed of Tahitian pearl

The technology is still in its infancy and production to date has been very limited. Most pearl wholesalers have yet to hear about this new type of gem let alone offer them. Josh Humbert is one of the few pearl farmers that has been experimenting with the organic, shape-shifting nuclei and believes that there is potential to use the technology to eventually grow large, colorful round pearls. In the meantime, we get to enjoy a new type of pearl!

A full strand of giant, provoked baroques

A full strand of giant, provoked baroques

Welcoming On The Reel Production & Power of Pearl

Two and a half years ago I took a trip around the world with a film crew, shooting pearl farms in some of the remotest reaches of the world. It was on this trip that our short Tahitian Pearl Documentary was filmed – the same documentary that went on to win the 2013 IFFF Short Film, Documentary award.

The crew that I traveled with, from On the Reel Productions, is still traveling and shooting today, most recently on a pearl farm in Northwest Australia – beyond the outback, where crocodiles outnumber people.

On the Reel Productions is owned by Ahbra Perry and Taylor Higgins, a pair of young filmmakers that have spent the past four years working closely with the pearl industry, visiting a total of 11 different countries. They’ve succeeded in capturing the real story of pearl production and the relationships pearl producers have with local communities and Mother Nature, with boots on the ground and flippers in the water.

Ahbra and Taylor’s film, “Power of Pearl,” is now in full production. If anyone would like to be a part of this film, sponsor information can be found here.

I’ve also invited Ahbra to do a short series of guest posts on our blog, detailing a day in the life of a pearl farming crew, as told by her experience in Australia. I hope everyone enjoys her story.