Mabe Pearl Unglueing

Hi everybody: I just recently received a custom job in which I
will be restyling a Mabe pearl enhancer. Question is, I need to
remove the stone without breaking it (obviously), and I am not
sure of the best way of doing it. The mabe looks to me as if it
epoxied in place, I don’t want to use acetone or the acetone
based gels that the supply houses sell. I thought about heating
the piece away from the pearl to break down the glue, or else
freeze the piece for a few moments to make the glue more brittle.
Any Sugestions?

Cary James

Hi Roxana, To remove pearls I use a small electric soldering
iron and gradually heat the metal while pulling on the pearl with
my fingers until the epoxy lets go. Jerry in Kodiak

Mabee pearls, gimme a hammer, Just kidding although I have had
enough problems with them to write a small book, The pearls have
an epoxy center that will expand in the pearl causing it to
explode in to little cracks, not a violent one but death for
sure! The only way to remove them is to put them into attack
(glue remover) for about ten minutes, then check if not 5 mins.
and check again that is the only way I have found to be somewhat
safe although do set a timer, if you forget all is lost. Hope I
have helped … RINGMAN JOHN

For removing cemented items I have found it best to avoid
chemicals whenever possible - especially with mabe pearls. What
I use is an old pair of cheap needle nose pliers I keep around
just for this situation. Heat the tips of the pliers to a dull
red and grab someplace near where the pearl is cemented. Give
it a few seconds for the heat to conduct and soften the cement
and try to work the pearl off. Of course, the presence of any
other heat sensitive stones may effect the procedure, so proper
caution is advised, but this method has worked for me for many

Dear Cary

Unsetting mabes is a thankless job! Try to get the customer to
okay doing this at their risk, because you’re taking a chance.
The solvent process is likely to delaminate the piece or even
effect the polyester or epoxy filling.

Heat can delaminate the piece and at worst, burn the pearl. Is
the piece backed in solid metal? If yes then you can only remove
it with heat or solvent. You would have to drill a little hole
from the back so that you can apply gentle steady pressure to it
while heating the metal carefuly. The key is to get the mabe out
of the setting ASAP before the filling starts to be effected.

If the piece is set in an open-backed bezel, I suggest, if
possible to carefully cut away as much of the epoxy with an
exacto knife as you can, then try your torch-heat approach,
being careful to apply the torch to the metal only. If the piece
should delaminate, carefully clean both the filler-dome and the
inside of the nacre-dome with acetone or alcohol. Then use an
epoxy to rebond the piece. If the filler is effected by solvents,
remove the filling fom the pearl and the shell backing, clean
all parts thouroughly with acetone and fill with a polyester
resin (possibly tinted if you’re dealing with a colored pearl.
Finally sand flat when cured and epoxy the back back on. (Wear a
respirator: pearl dust is poisonous!) I regularly work with
abalone mabe’s, so if you get into trouble email me off line and
I’ll be glad to help.

Hope this helps, Tom Tietze
Opals of the Sea