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Enlarging pearl holes


Any recommendations on a technique to enlarge an already existing
hole in a pearl or bead? What is the appropriate tool to hold the
pearl at the correct angle and what is the instrument that best does the job?
Thanks, Polly


How about fingers and a small twist drill in a pin chuck ? If I had
sevearl to do I’d probably stick the drill in the foredom and keep it

Andy Parker, Agate House Lapidary
Ulverston, Cumbria, England
Tel: 01229 584023


Hello Polly, To hold the pearl, you must use something softer than
it. Use your fingers or a clamp fashioned from wood or leather or
something of the sort. You can drill the pearl with an ordinary twist
drill. Have fun. Tom Arnold


Polly, The tool you’re looking for to enlarge and/or clean an already
existing hole in a pearl is the Centerline Pearl Driller. It will also
enable you to drill an undrilled pearl. The tool securely holds the
pearl (or any other drillable bead) between two Delrin (similar to
Nylon) pads. The bead is held centered above a 1 mm (#60) drill
bushing to guide your drill through the center. Use a spade drill and
keep it wet and cool. Run your drill at medium speed, drill in a
little at a time and dip the drill in water frequently. Centerline
Pearl Driller is available from most jewelry tool dealers in the U.S.
If your dealer does not carry it, please let me know. Good luck, Ray
Grossman Ray Grossman Inc.


polly, somewhere along the way my pearl tweezers ran off with all of
the odd socks from the dryer so i had to improvise: put a small towel
on the work surface (the dust that is created from drilling a pearl
is twice the weight of the pearl itself). wrap about 6 or 7 layers of
masking tape around each jaw of an old pair of pliers, pick up the
pearl in question with a pin/needle & position it in the spongy jaws

  • it ‘nests’ there & shouldn’t move easily. then use the smallest
    straigh-sided diamond burr in the flexshaft & drill as far as it will
    go -it should go all the way through the pearl. then, USE THE PIN to
    remove the pearl from the pliers. you will not believe the new words
    you will pick out of the air to use in commemoration of the burnt
    fingers you will get from not using the pin; freshly drilled pearls
    are second only to molten solder for retaining heat. if you want to
    do it the easy way there are pearl ‘vises’ & tweezers available in
    most catalogs. good luck - ive


There are reamers with handles made just for the purpose of enlarging
holes in Pearls. Both Rio and Fire Mountain Gems sell them for about $5.00.Don


Please keep in mind- to wear a face mask while drilling pearls-they
are toxic!


Regarding drilling Pearls The tool to use is called a reamer. Several
diamond coated reamers are now on the market - they look like an awl
only diamond coated. I get mine from Rio who now sells a little
electric reamer - a kind of scaled down dremel for $35.00. I like it
because it has a very slow speed. I use it for both pearls and
precious stone beads. As advised by someone who answered my question
earlier, use lots of water when using diamond drill bits.
Dina Weavers, High-Strung


A good tool would be the bead reamer. It is a needle diamond bur,
plus a short tapered diamond bur, and a collet handle.

The full kit, part #302-RS, is in the teens of dollars at IJS,

Dan Woodard


I have a hand held dremel, and small drills that I use to increase
the hole size. put the pearl in a small vise to hold it. If not too
much, there are reamers available,. Come in a pack of 5 different
sizes. works very well for the occasional pearl which needs to be



I enlarge pearl holes with my flexishaft held horizontally in a
holder or vice. Use a regular drill, run at low speed and use water
as a coolant and lubricant. Don’t go all the way through but turn
the pearl around, coming in from both sides and meeting in the
middle. Hold the pearl in you fingers or any well padded plier or
tweezer. I use plastic pliers. Don’t forget - slow speed and dip
in water often. Freshwater pearl are much easier than cultured
Akoya, which usually has a thin and vulnerable nacre which chips
easily. This method works best is you’re not enlarging too much.
For a big hole, do it in several stages - carefully!

Tom Kruskal


Polly, I hold the pearl between thumb and forfinger and drill it out
with a drill in a flex shaft .Works for me. Jerry in Kodiak


Dont spend tha buck on a diamond drill bit for drilling pearls! They
are soft enough, just a reg. drill bit will work have fun and again
wear a mask = )


I’ve had some luck with placing the pearls into a putty-like material
called Fun Tack (one of several brand names) which you can get at a
stationary or office supply place, or school supply aisle at the drug
store. It’s meant to stick things onto walls without making a mark,
similar to “earthquake” goop. Netsuke dealers also have used it to
secure ivory carvings to shelves. It helps when you have to do several
pearls at a time. The drawback is that it can soften from the heat
generated by the drilling, and the pearls start to "swim"away from
you! However, it doesn’t hurt the pearls, and it does help to keep
from burning your fingerprints off your finger tips.I place it on a
soft wood board and drill downward. If you drill into the wood, no
worries. And, absolutely, you don’t need a diamond drill. Margery