Knotting between beads in a necklace

I am making a pendant with a azurite chrysacolla square stone, set
in a chased frame of silver. A two strand necklace will attach to
it, made of 6mm azurite chrysacolla round beads, interspersed with
some 4mm lapis, and 4mm silver beads.

My question is when I string the necklace, do I use silk with knots,
or a beadalon (or similar) product without knots?

All the holes in the beads are nicely drilled, very even, without
rough edges, so that I believe the silk would be a safe option; what
I don’t is what conventions there are for when knotting is used
between beads. It will be an expensive piece, with the pendant
detachable to use as a separate brooch, so I want it to be as classy
as possible.

Thanks in advance,
Marcie mullaney

Knotting between beads is used on high-value pieces to prevent the
loss of the beads if the string breaks. Fully-knotted pieces are
always more expensive because of the labour involved. It is also
quite difficult and fiddly to get the knots close to the preceding
bead unless you are very practiced. There is a tool called a tri-cord
knotter which I understand makes it easier. Be aware that silk can
stretch quite a lot as well, particularly if the beads and/or pendant
are heavy. I use a nylon-and-silk mix myself, for the strength and
reduced risk of stretching.

19 Olivers Drive, Witham, Essex, CM8 1QJ

    My question is when I string the necklace, do I use silk with
knots, or a beadalon (or similar) product without knots? >, Marcie

Marcie, Our experience with metal beads on silk is, that they abrate
and cut into it, thus breaking and beads lost( unless knotted). Also
with the weight of mineral beads, beadalon would probably be your
safest bet. Tho knotted beads do have a look of quality work. But you
also want them to last. Thomas Blair Hilton
Head SC

Marcie, I would use both, Soft-Flex or Beadalon, to string the
necklace as well as silk and you know the silk in between the beads.
This way you’re ensure the safety of the necklace and the elegance of
knotting! Good luck! I’d love to see a picture when it’s finished!
Sonje in Yarmouth Maine where my daffodills and tulips are in full


Hand knotting your beads has several advantages: The beads are
cushioned by the knots, protecting them from mutual abrasion, the
strands ‘drape’ gracefully when worn, have a visual “rhythm”, and,
should the strand break, your customer won’t have to frantically
grope after a cascade of beads spilling to the floor while cursng
your parentage… If you want your piece to look, act, and be
’classy’, then the classic, traditional method of knotting is the way
to go. Of course, it is much more time-consuming, which makes the
piece more expensive to produce, but the finished product will look
and behave like jewelry, rather than a craft project.

There are exceptions, of course, mainly based on the size, and
sometimes the shape, of the beads. Liquid silver tubes, heishi, and
seedbeads do not benefit from knotting in between, obviously. Another
exception, or rather, alternative, is stylistic; I sometimes will
link beads together with silver or gold wire, e.g. Even metal chain,
such as foxtail, is preferable in some cases.

However, if your goal is to produce a quick, inexpensive “fun” or
fashion product, using beads of lower-end material , then a product
like beadalon will do the job. Everything has its place.

It’s my feeling that quality components deserve the respect of
quality construction. Cheap methods cheapen the product.

I have one question: I am very familiar with azurite/malachite, but
have not heard of azurite/chalcedony. Is this something new on the

Good luck with your project,

An additional question on this, since I haven’t seen it

I’m doing a project that involves sort-of-beading (my first time not
making something fabricated). I’ve got these wonderful “tablets” of
blue goldstone (about 1" wide x 1-1/2" long) and will be
interspersing them with hand-fabricated silver pendanty-things and
oval-shaped beads (stone and silver). I’ve bought a roll of
Beadalon, thinking that would be sufficient for stringing.

Here’s my question: should I knot the beadalon? Or do you only
knot if working with silk or some other type of thread?

If I do need to knot the beadalon, is there any specific technique
recommended for it?

As I said, this is quite a different project for me, so any help
would be appreciated.

Karen Goeller

Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry

My question is when I string the necklace, do I use silk with
knots, or a beadalon (or similar) product without knots? 

Marcie, it really depends on how heavy you anticipate the piece to
be. Generally, knots are used between two surfaces that may scratch
one another during movement. Same thing applies for using spacers.
Silk will stretch over time, but it does give a wonderful drape to
the piece. Unless I’m stringing pearls, I always use a 19-strand wire
thread, either Soft Touch or one by Griffin called Soft & Flexible.
You can also class up the ends using French Boullion to help cover
the wires where attached to the clasp. Seeing as how you’re making
the pendant detachable, I would think that you would want to have the
base as strong as possible. To me, that means wire.

Just my thoughts - hope it helps a bit.

Hi Karen, If you can return the Beadalon, I’d suggest using SoftFlex
instead. I’ve used both and SoftFlex drapes much better and doesn’t
kink as badly as Beadalon can. I don’t knot either Beadalon or
SoftFlex, though I believe the SoftFlex web site states that you can
and has a ‘special’ knot they show you how to do. I just crimp the
ends and then cover them crimps with cones. Hope that helps,Jill in
huuuuumid Atlanta

You definitely do not need to knot the Beadalon. Use some sort of
other quality spacer instead. Genuine Bali beads are wonderful for
this type of work. Or you might find some sterling silver or 14k gold
spacers that would suit. I’ve heard that Beadalon can be knotted, but
personally, I would not attempt it. I just don’t think it would look
nice at all. Since it is a wire, I don’t believe it would give the
same nice draping effect that silk or nymo would. Just stringing
Beadalon gives a very nice drape when heavier beads are used.

Good luck with your project.

Hi Marcie, In case you haven’t already heard more than you ever
wanted to know about knotting, here goes: When I began stringing
beads, I didn’t know how to knot, but I wanted the look. So I used a
tiny size of the same bead as the necklace and used it for a spacer
rather than tie knots. I eventually learned to knot and do so
occasionally, but it turned out that my customers liked the look of
the bead spacers and still ask for it. Now I only use knotted silk
(or similar thread) when I am doing something simple and classical.

About the knots: Lapidary Journal had a good article (Chinese
Turquoise Necklace by Sharon Williams, Oct., 2001 - Vol. 55, No. 7)
about knotting silk. She includes a description of a simple
procedure for pre-stretching the silk. This is important, especially
with heavy beads.

Finally: I bought the little knotting tool but found it sort of
clumsy. One day a acquaintance (who teaches knotting!) told me she
would show me but that all I really needed was a very sharp tweezer.
I went straight home, tried it immediately, and found it much simpler
than the tool. I also found that if one uses two strands of thread,
they can be spread apart just after you tie the knot, and that will
snug them up against the stone very nicely. Good luck and happy
knotting. Thais

Hello Thias, Thanks for sharing your knotting discovery about using
two strands of thread: "they can be spread apart just after you tie
the knot, and that will snug them up against the stone very nicely."
Way cool! I can’t wait to try it.

BTW, I have not liked the “little knotting tool” either. Probably
due to having learned to knot long before it was invented. Gee,
that probably reveals something about my age. 09 Also, I’ve not
recently thanked Hanuman and Ton for their wonderful work moderating
this forum. A reminder to everyone of the raffle opportunity on the
casting equipment. Even though I’d rather have Daniel Grandi do my
casting, I bought a chance since it all goes to Orchid.
Judy in Kansas

On some peal necklaces I’ll knot between the beads and then slip an
18ct gold bead over the knot. The beads need redrilling to enlarge
the holes.

It still hangs like a knotted necklace but the silk doesn’t show.

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040

I have enjoyed this thread very much. A good bit of what I do is
strung on various materials. What I use and whether I knot (and I
do use the Tri Cord tool and like it VERY much thank you - a real
boon for arthritic hands!) depends both on what I am stringing, and
what market I am stringing it for. While I have customers who want,
and will pay for, pearls strung on silk and knotted, more of my
market are customers who would love pearls, but can’t afford hand
knotted on silk. I use only freshwater pearls, bought in bulk, so
my cost on them is quite affordable. When I string them on
something other than silk and don’t knot them they still drape
beautifully, I mix crystals, and beads from around the
world in, and they are quite pretty and still quite affordable.

I did an in-store show this past Saturday and sold the whole of my
product range, from my low-in strung things to my most expensive
emerald and pearl and 14kt gold set. I don’t think I would ever go
to only silk and knots - I would lose too many customers.

I do have a few questions though. So far I have not had trouble
with the silk stretching, and in their catalog Rio says “…silk
doesn’t stretch…”. Yet a number of posters here have referred to
silk stretching. So…does it or doesn’t it? I use some stringing
materials that I know stretch, so I pre-stretch them before using.
I have NOT been doing this with the silk…should I be? If it is
only when “heavy” beads are used, please define heavy!

The next question is regarding the use of spacers. If I am doing
one of my upper line necklaces with pearls and spacers, should I
knot between the pearls and spacers, or do the spacers serve the
same function as a knot? If they don’t, then wouldn’t any metal
bead? Or not?


Beth in SC (who highly recommends day before Mother’s Day in-store

Beth, I’m also interested in know whether “silk stretches” as I’ve
used it for a long time expressly because it supposedly does not
stretch. So we really need to know. Everything you read about it
says it does NOT stretch.


 and I do use the Tri Cord tool and like it VERY much thank you 

Hi Beth, I finally taught myself to use the tri-cord knotter to do a
red coral necklace. I’m having trouble with the tool kind of abrading
the silk cord, and in one case, actually breaking it. The obvious
answer is that I am using too much force, but if I don’t, it seems
that the knot doesn’t want to snug up against the bead. Any idea what
I’m doing wrong, or any suggestions?

I have to restring it due to a clasp problem (too small for the
hands in question… long story), and would like to do a better job
this time.

I used 3mm 14k gold spacer beads between the coral beads, and
knotted between the coral and the spacers.

P.S. In what kind of store did you do your in-store show? Congrats
on your success!

P.P.S. Please call me and stop in for a visit if you find yourself
coming through Charlotte. Same for all you other Orchdians, too! :slight_smile:
To echo another recent thread, I’ve had the occasion to meet several
other members of the Orchid community and every meeting has been a
treasured experience! Orchid rules! :wink: Thank you, Hanuman!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

The tri-cord really works well for me but I share Dave’s experience.
You can get near to the end of the knotting and the silk breaks!

I found one way round this is to slide the knot slowly up to the
point where you slip it off and THEN pull tight, this way you only
stress a short section of the silk. I also wax the silk before I
start and occasionally have been known to wet it (saliva - I know ,
yucky but it works) to provide some lubrication.

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040

Evening all from Plano Tx. Spent Mother’s Day here, heading home

About knotting, there are many techniques, none wrong, if the
results are appealing.

There are a few ways to make life a bit easier. Dampen the thread
at least the day before, and then weight and hang it. I have used
fishing lead, and also steel weights used to hold patterns on cloth
rather than pinning, anything heavy will do. Running beeswax along
the thread will help prevent fraying. It is possible to create a
self needle of the thread by shaving it to a fine point and then
stiffening it with glue. There is a two needle and thread method
where the entire pattern of beads is strung, and a second one enters
one bead at a time, it is pushed into position and then knotted, one
thread over the other. that does give you, as Judy commented on, a
way to tug the knot closer to the bead.

I believe the same can be done by using a second strand of say nylon
to accompany the silk thread, and knot the silk over the nylon. I
have experienced both silk and nylon stretching.

Pearls may have to be reamed a bit to allow for two threads to pass

For larger or heavier, or metal beads, if you want to introduce
color with the thread, yes an Upholstery shop has a wonderful range
of color of a good strong thread. I have used this many times to
compliment the color of the bead.

A great way to make your own very fine needle, is to get a length of
lamp cord wire, the multiple ply, not the single copper cable, strip
off the covering and pull about 2 inches of wire, fold it not quite
in half, and run your thread through the fold, and use the two ends
of copper to go through the beads. The slightly longer end making
the path through the bead for the rest of the copper wire and the

ready to once again see and feel the Pacific Ocean.

Hi Kay & Dave,

This is the other Beth :slight_smile: and I’ve only half kept track of this
thread so do excuse me if I’m being repetitive or off track.

I'm also interested in know whether "silk stretches" ... 

Silk absolutely stretches. I don’t know where you heard that it
doesn’t. It’s a common practice to stretch silk by hanging it with a
weight on the end to stretch it out before stringing.

I'm having trouble with the tool kind of abrading the silk cord... 

I have no experience with the knotting tool (I do mine by hand) but
after a couple of “interesting” encounters with silk, I stopped using
it. Stretching aside, I never found it to be durable enough. My
beading cord of choice is Stringth. It’s a woven nylon which doesn’t
stretch, has great strength, is easily knottable and comes in
numerous colors and thicknesses.

Also, I only knot between pearls, and sizeable ones at that. Where
other types of beads are concerned, including small pearls, I knot
every 10-12 beads or so as a safety measure (if the strand breaks,
you can’t lose very many beads). I might make an exception for
especially soft and valuable or large beads; knotting not only
protects them from rubbing against each other but, in the case of
large beads, makes the strand more flexible.

I should note that I have jeweler friends – who sell necklaces in
the $300-$1500 range (retail) – who use Soft Flex type cords, crimp
beads, never knot, and don’t have any trouble selling their work. I
prefer Stringth, French wire terminations and at least some knotting
as explained above. Different strokes . . . .


Dave - I don’t use any force until I am actually snugging the knot,
then I firmly and steadily tighten it. I have not had any trouble
with the tool either abrading or breaking the silk. I am using size
D silk, I use it doubled. I don’t work tremendously quickly, but at
a steady rate, and have had no problems from the tool. The tool user
causes problems sometimes when she forgets to slide the next
pearl down, and does two knots in the same place :frowning: otherwise it
works beautifully, and allows me to do much more knotting than I
would ever be able to do physically otherwise. Like anything, the
more you use it the better you get, and maybe with more necklaces you
will get a better feel for what is enough force without being too
much. I can’t imagine what would be abrading your silk. Mine has
nothing that would abrade anything that I can see.

Unless you are scratching the silk across the top of the point as
you come off it? I lift mine pretty much straight up and off. That
is the only thing I can think of.

If I get to Charlotte I’ll call you - would love to come and see
your work! I’m in Cheraw, which is about 2 hours south of Charlotte.

The store I had my show in was a Merle-Norman, which is actually
primarily a gift shop, but also sells the cosmetics. May sound
strange, but they uncovered the top of their counter (they sell
jewelry also - all piled on top of itself - as is everything else in
the store!) and I set up my displays. Did more in one day than I had
done in 2 days at a craft fair earlier this spring! Being the
Saturday before Mother’s Day helped a lot! I had made a flyer, which
the store copied and handed out to customers for two weeks before the
show. I also sent an e-mail to my customer list to let them know I
would be there. We had a good response to both efforts, and several
customers came and bought for their mothers, went home, and sent
their husbands and kids back to buy for them! One lady came twice -
she bought several necklaces the first time (I do lots of pearl and
birthstone bead necklaces), then came back for another necklace.
Then later her mother came to buy for her. Pretty neat! I’ll
probably do another show there during the Christmas season. We tried
a non-holiday Saturday earlier in the spring, and it was a
disappointment. I did figure out how to use their space to show my
work to best advantage, so it wasn’t a total wash. That helped this


Just as a note to the knotting between beads thread…

I have never had a problem, I generally use at least 4 and up to 6
strands of EE when knotting between beads, the beads drape nicely,
the knots aren’t too big/noticeable and seem to last for many years.