Dear Mary Anne and all, There is another trick to remove posts broken
off inside of a pearl. It doesn't always work; it probably worked
85% of the time, with the post being removed and the pearl suffering
no ill effects.
Hold the pearl in several folds of fabric or pliant leather. I
usually just used my apron. This will help to insulate your fingers.
Using an electric soldering gun/iron, lay the tip on the broken off
post and begin to heat. Make sure the soldering gun tip is clean
with just a bit of soft solder on it. As the tip heats up, it breaks
down the glue bond holding the post inside the pearl. You will see
some smoke as the glue breaks down. Definitely don't breath it, as
it smells vile and gives you that choking sensation. Next comes the
tricky part. Let the solder gun cool down so that the low temp
solder hardens around the broken off post. This requires a very
steady hand, and is the part I most often had trouble with. Once the
solder has set, you can usually pull the solder gun away with the
broken off post stuck to the gun tip.
This only works if you can get the tip of the soldering gun/iron on
to the tip of the broken post. It is possible to burn the pearl, so
care must be used, but often times the bottom of the pearl which
might yellow from the heat is not visible once set anyway. We
usually considered the pearl a loss if we could not remove it this
way and the pearl was of negligible value, so I generally didn't
worry too much about the pearl damage. Take care with your fingers,
however; the pearl gets pretty darn hot during this process.
david lee jeweler
Mason City, Iowa 50401