Reno your pearls: Chokers to bracelet, for Marie

On Easter Sunday evening, I received an-mail from a reader, Marie, saying, "I am always waiting for you to explore options for the old graduated pearl choker. I have spent hours online searching for ideas to give these staples a fresh redo."

It turns out she has two Mikimoto necklaces, and is interested in a bracelet. She said that the demure 4mm-8mm chokers were bought in the '50s, never worn, and felt like "old lady jewellery". (Mikimoto produce pearls of various quality, from very good to exquisite; a strand from that date should have thick nacre and still glow, but that also depends on how they have been stored.)

So, Marie—bracelets it is!

With all those akoyas—which I would treat as around 31 inches of various-sized fine pearls—I'd make a multistrand bracelet similar to this piece by Australian jeweller Jan Logan:

Photo courtesy Jan Logan

She could add crystal or other gemstone beads, or metal beads, or keep it to all pearls, but I would have at least three strands to get a luxurious effect. She could opt for a tube clasp as shown, or another style as long as it is secure. This is a fairly straightforward job, not an expensive project (unless Marie turns out to have a thing for diamond clasps.)

Another way to create a bracelet with many pearls is to bezel-set the pearls on a cuff, like Chantal's  multicolour Tahitian keshi bracelet, made by Janis Kerman. Whole other level of work what with all that setting, but Chantal wears hers with everything, and it's fabulous.

Photo courtesy Janis Kerman

Another cuff style: a Vince Camuto cuff with bezel-set 'pearls' and other 'gems' on a plaque. Very cool. She could repurpose other gems she has sitting in her jewel box, or add new ones, such as moonstone, crystal and topaz, which are not super costly and look fantastic with white pearls.

Vince Camuto at Nordstrom

One last idea: have both necklaces restrung into one, and the jeweller will 'scatter' the sizes harmoniously. She could mix in some keshis or freshwaters to make it less 'lady', then wear it as either a necklace or a wrap bracelet. (In that case the clasp is a toggle or orbit style.) The key here is for the jeweller to measure Marie's wrist to get the right length so it wraps neatly as a bracelet.

I grabbed this shot from an eBay vendor strictly as an example; they are not high quality pearls, but the style, made with her akoyas, would be modern and versatile.

Example of pearl wrap bracelet/necklace

When worn as a long necklace, it is fairly fine, so I would layer it with a chain, or other beads. (For a look at this necklace/bracelet piece in other gemstones, see Anne Sportun's many options.)

Marie said, "Or I'll just leave them to my granddaughters." It's not one or the other, though.

Marie could have a gorgeous piece to enjoy now and one day give to one or both granddaughters. (The designs that are not bezel-set could be re-strung back into two necklaces if desired. Save the orignal clasps.)


Laura J said…
The first bracelet spoke to me! And I’d opt for a diamond clasp!
Duchesse said…
Laura J: You have raised this matter with a clasp nut. Nearly all the diamond-set clasps available from jeweller's suppliers are quite formal but some jewellers make their own, and if working with one of those, she could get a more modern, lighthearted clasp set with diamonds. A cool diamond clasp, not one of those fussy ones.

There are also some gorgeous antique or vintage diamond-set clasps out there, one of a kind. They have to work well, though, no point in losing everything.

I'd use a yellow gold clasp on the bracelet, to respect the provenance of these pearls.

I spend way more time than I should looking at and for clasps, IMO a make or break detail. I am surprised by how many jewelllers stick either generic or low-cost clasps on their pieces. It is where those who want to will cut corners on price. OTOH some customers freak out when told the clasp will cost $400 or more. But it the clasp is important to both the look and security of a piece.
LauraH said…
Love that Janis Kerman cuff. Something about the shape and structured feel of a cuff is very appealing although I find their tendency to slide down onto my hand a little annoying. And I hear you about clasps:-) They made up the majority of the cost of my jewellery renos but worth it for the look and the versatility.
Duchesse said…
Laura H: Open cuffs like Kerman's and Camuto's can usually be compressed (carefully) to exactly fit the wearer's wrist. When ordering a cuff online, the buyer should measure the diameter of one she already has that fits well, or try some on and note the diameter she needs, because a closed cuff can really vary in size.

I knew a woman who was so exacting that she had cuff bracelets made for her left and right hands in different diameters because her wrists were slightly different. (No, this was not Diana Vreeland.)

Your jewellers often make their own clasps, and are as obsessive about them as I am. Once you have had that, you don't go back to just average ones ;)
Laura J said…
It seems like clasps like buttons can make or break a piece!
Duchesse said…
Laura J: Apt comparison, it's in the details. And like buttons. the clasp one person likes will not be another's choice.

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