When doing multiple strand necklaces, is there any sort of formula
for how many additional pearls or beads you add as you move from
the inner strand out?
Sadly, the short answer is no.
Here’s the method I use; if it helps you, I am thrilled.
If I am making a multiple strand necklace, I start with the longest
strand, knot it all with the exception of the last 4-5 beads; I do
not attach to the clasp. Then the next longest strand, again leaving
the last 4-5 beads not knotted or attached to the clasp, etc., until
I have as many strands as required.
To make sure the strands fall correctly, I use a model/display bust
and fit each strand individually, attaching the longest first. In a
perfect world, these nestle nicely.
This method works best if there is no “center” of the necklace,
e.g., if the 3 strands are all the same size freshwater pearl.
If the necklace is a patterned piece with a definite center and
symmetrical design on every strands, the process is eased (but not
easy) by using a beading board with separate grooves for the
different strands, as you can design from the center. In this case,
I’ll probably knot up a test strand, taking measurements before &
I start with the longest strand and work to the shortest. If I have
a few beads left over, it’s okay. I return the extras to the
customer; many times she’ll have matching earrings made. I often high
grade along the way, as there are few strands where every bead is
perfect. If I started with the shortest strand and worked my way to
the longest, it is possible not to have enough beads, which is not
ideal: everything has to be re-done…and I am very cranky.