J.Grahl Design (Pearls)

Nature can give us great punch lines,
in this case a South sea Snowman. This is a “Twinned” (cultured) single pearl with a rare "Hammered ’ surface texture, one of those pieces you couldn’t find if you wanted. Sometimes things just fall in your lap.
There is a rich history to finding meaning in baroqueish pearls, it’s like looking at clouds and finding a fleeting image, then your imagination takes over.
Welcome our snowman, Fabricated with an 18K yellow gold hat, engraved scarf, cane and base. Crushed black jade for the face and a diamond in his tummy give me that taste of winter.

Photo, Sylvia Bissonnette

Here is one straight off the bench,
A 18 mm Tahitian Cultured Pearl, suspended from a hand fabricated Platinum and diamond “Enhancer” (The bale opens to slip over a strand of pearls).
For a great and patient friend.


Here ia a simple pendant with great coloring.
The fabricated platinum top is set with a pink sapphire and a dash of diamonds,
The pearl is an excellent example of a Tahitian “Pistachio” color.
These are the rarest of the Tahitian Cultured Pearls, this one is 12.5 mm.


Here are some simple hoops, 11 mm south sea white cultured pearls, platinum with diamond accents.

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My Specialty is Natural Pearls (see NaturalPearlSociety.Org),
Though, rarely do I set them.
Most of what I work with goes to brokers or collectors, all overseas.
I’m the documentarian for collections (Gueblin, Stern, GIA, and others)
Then there is the exception, in this case a very rare Natural Pink Pearl, a known history that dates back to the late 1800’s, a piece that stands alone in the collector community.
This pearl is not drilled, it’s held firmly with prongs, each with a tiny silicon pad on the inside.
The east/west side stones are pale , natural pink diamonds, the rest D-E, VVS. The ring is hand fabricated in platinum.
Unfortunately, this ring was stolen about 4 years ago, along with about 30 other pieces I’ve created for this upper East Coast collector.
So now there’s but memory, and these photos.
But we are rebuilding with fresh pieces. Life must move forward…
Best (to keep records…)

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Hello Jim,
Lovely - of course! Thanks for sharing that bit regarding tiny silicon pads between the prongs and the pearl. Am curious about the silicon pad business - is it from a sheet or a bit of cured ‘goop’ on the prong?

Judy in Kansas, where a few bitterly cold days are forecast. Brrrrrr.

Judy it hit 87 here yesterday. Today we only got into the 70’s… But I too want to know more about the silicone pads. Literally my middle name is Pearl, and I collect them.

Hi Judy & Aggie,
Cooling off here, 59 right now dropping to 50 tonight.
I want summer back…
The silicon is just a dab , I put a large drop on one of my steel bench blocks, then take a little on the end of a toothpick and put into a cupped area I ball burred into the inside of the prong.
There is also a bit of 2 part epoxy on the support ring at the base of the pearl.
Funny , after I posted this , the collector/friend asked if we could source another remarkable pearl and basically duplicate the ring, it is so missed .
I’m thinking maybe a really great pink Conch with a distinct flame pattern.
Thanks for looking,

Hi Jim.

when you are not setting with mechanical means such as prongs, do you use some sort of epoxy and screw?..may I ask for a recommendation on epoxy that you use?

do you ever use a lazer near the pearls?


Hi Julie…
I’ve tried so many combinations, I’ve lost track. If I use a 2 part, I prefer a slower set time with a 24 hr. cure. My test is to lay a bit of glue on a steel bench block, wait a couple days, then try to feel the resistance when scraped off.
Primarily, with studs & really, most jewelry applications, I make my own platinum posts, drill the pearl and start with an undersized hole, gently reaming until the pearl is a friction fit to the post. Then a cynoacrolate (super glue) because the fit is already so snug, I need a very thin viscosity (the thickness or weight of the fluid , think water or honey). I’ll use side cutters to notch the post a bit at times. I’ve never (really) had a pearl come off…Unless I soak them in acetone or gently heat the metal to intentionally remove them.
I dont laser, just torch weld , although I also use a Puk welder to tack certain things. Though I saw a guy doing a laser demo at Las Vegas this year. he was building a lattice directly over the pearl… really talented.
Thanks, Jim

Hello Jim,
OK. So you use a tiny bit of the silicon goop. Do you allow it to cure BEFORE moving the prongs into place? OR do you move the prongs while the goop is still gummy so that it cures on the pearl and prong?

Inquiring minds want to know.
Judy in Kansas, where it’s 12 degrees F at sunrise.

Hi Judy,
I let it cure first, that way it doesn’t smear or leave residue around the prong…
Get warm…

Here is another Tahitian Cultured pearl suite. As much as I love platinum, there is a lot to be said about the mix of yellow (18 K in this case) with these pearls.
no matter what the base color of the tahitian material, if you look long enough you;'ll find warm undertones of reds, purples and blues. It seems the diamonds and platinum help frame the base color, and the yellow brings out the undertones.
This suite, hand fabricated, plays off these elements to have the Pearls take center stage.

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One of my favorites.
I did this for Robert Wan, (Tahiti pearls.)
He wanted a showpiece for his newly opened Hawaii store.
I’d wake up about 6 am. go for a long swim, come back and draw for about 4 hours & check in with Robert to see if we were on track.
If all went well I’d go surf a bit, go back to the hotel & draw more.
Must’a worked…
Here’s the piece.
Plat, diamond and Roberts signature Tahitian Cultured Pearls
Happy Holidays,
All my best ,

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What size is the big focal pearl?

Hi Betty,
18 mm on the long side( it’s oval)

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Crossing paths…
For some , a symbol,
for others decoration.
Crosses have been a design staple for , oh maybe 2000 +years.
Though the design for has been found much earlier.
Here are design examples, hand fabricated in platinum and 18K yellow gold.
The earrings are made the same way.
Th the Tahitian culture, Black and white pearls (Moi et Toi), are a symbol of relationship between two who care deeply, hence the use as a revered jewelry gift.

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The Pearl and the Family Jewels…
This piece was dwelt upon for several years, a dream for a great friend, the dream of finding the best use for her departed and so loved Mom’s diamonds.
Her dream meets mine… a way to incorporate pearls into just about anything…
The result, a 12 mm South Sea white cultured Pearl of exquisite quality, add a bit of hand fabricated platinum with the topping of bringing Mom’s diamonds out of the dark.


Hi Jim,

Oh my, so sorry for this very late “thank you for your reply” message! somehow, your reply to my question slipped right past me!

Ok, all noted!

(I have read that super glue can become “brittle”…no problems with that?..I was wondering if brittle= eventual failure…?)

(have you ever tried that HXTAL glass epoxy?)

I am contemplating a tahitian pearl, station type chain necklace idea…but don’t want to wire wrap, (and worry about the “tugging” potential of the chain) and have always been afraid of “glue”…but then I look at all your beautiful pearl pieces and think…glue must be ok!..and friction fit…so I want to figure out how to do it correctly!)

I am looking into getting one of the below epoxies…do you have a recommendation?

Epoxy 220

This all-purpose, somewhat heat-resistant, amber-colored epoxy takes a high polish for inlay.
• It line-bonds slowly for excellent adhesion of stones to findings.
• Mix in equal parts of resin and hardener.
• Pot life is one hour.
• Curing time is eight hours, or 20–60 minutes when heated at 100°F (38°C).

Epoxy 330

Fast-drying, clear epoxy takes a high polish for inlay.
• It line-bonds quickly for findings-to-stone work; also great for invisible bonds on glass and china.
• Mix in equal parts of resin and hardener (one bottle of each included).
• Pot life is 15 minutes.
• Air-curing time is two hours; heat (100°F/38°C) reduces curing time to 10 minutes.

Thank you! and Best regards

in india where can i get this kind of epoxy

Binod Chand Boyed
Production & NPD