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Ohoh ,,, broken post!

I am resetting a black South Sea pearl into a ring and the post is
still in the pearl. It is more baroque than round so i cant drill
another hole, and it is to expensive to replace. How can i get the
puppy out of the pearl? or how can i secure the pearl properly ?
i have designed the ring so the pearl will a bezel at the bottom
but i worry this is not secure enough. Thank you in advance Ruth


On page 175 of the 1997 Rio Grande Tools/Equipment Cataloge there
is item #M - Rio Pearl Remover - “Removes epoxy from pearls without
damage. Contains methylene dichloride.” 8 oz. can for under $7.00.
I’ve never tried it, so I have no opinion of the product.

Yak - I’ve been on the Orchid mailing list since late last year,
but have only recently started reading the messages that have been
collecting (around 4600!!!). I’ve learned a lot from the 1000, or
so that I’ve read through. A little about myself (since I never
introduced myself):

I’m 24 years old and have been making/selling jewelry (as a
hobby/part-time business) for about 2 years. My father has been
making jewelry (as a hobby) for over 20 years. I was stubborn and
started doing it on my own instead of asking and learning from his
experience - stupid me!! But, when it’s an expensive mistake, you
don’t do it again, right?? I now know to go to him for help -
saves both time and money!!

Thank you for this mailing list!

Dwain Coufal
Temple, TX

P.S. During the day I’m a Systems Analyst for a local Health Plan’s
Outpatient Pharmacy.

I’m sure everyone has a solution, but here’s mine. I usually
soak the pearl in acetone for as long as it takes, then use
beeswax to grab onto the post and pull it out. Hopefully it will
work. If the pearl was secured to the post by shellac you’ll
have to try alcohol. Good luck!

Ruth, when I ran into one of these, I just drilled the post out
of the hole. It was easy to do. Try using a sharp new drill bit
to do it. Karen

Trish, Wish I dint have to reccomend nasty chemistry, better
living through chemistry isn’t always true, but I use
Methyethylketone (MEK) to dissolve most adhesives on pearls and
posts. It doesn’t take long. 10 - 15 minutes before you can pull
the post out with sharp tweezers. MEK is a neurotoxin. A little
bit goes a long way towards destroying your neurons. I haven’t
read Charles So do it outside. Well ventilated is not enough. If
you can smell it, if you get it on your skin, you are getting
dosed. I say outside because most jewelers do not have
engineering controls…ventilators that exhaust the fumes out
into the atmosphere. If you have a fume hood, then, good on ya,
girl! That’s the best. Good Luck. Chuck Hunner

Trish- As a general rule it’s a no-no to bezel set a pearl. Some
can do it successfully, but I have found that what usually
happens is the pearl eventually starts to spin in its setting,
and the bezel cuts a groove into the nacre of the pearl. You can
bet the customer won’t be too happy about this. As for the broken
post- first use some “attack” to make sure the epoxy is all gone
then I would try to see if I could work it out with my tweezers
(the smaller ones) kind of like when you’ve got a bad sliver or

Well, that’s all from me.

Tim Goodwin

G’day Trish; there is a way, but it isn’t easy. Try and get
hold of a piece of fine brass tubing available in modeler’s
shops. If it isn’t quite fine enough then you could draw it
through ordinary wire-drawing plates to a size which will fit
nicely over the broken pin. Place this in a fairly slow drill and
use water and valve grinding paste from the local garage shop to
grind away the material around the pin. Keep taking the
tube-drill out to replenish worn grinding paste.

When the drill has gone far enough (it will take time) it should
be possible to insert a thin strong probe into the space between
the post and the pearl and break off the post where it is glued
to the pearl at the bottom of the hole. Then off you go again.
Like I said it isn’t easy, but it works. The same method is used
to drill out hardened screws and studs which have broken off
flush with the surface of metal.

Hello Ruth: Use a ball bur the size of the post and carfully
start it in the metal, push lightly so you don’t slip of and into
the pearl.

Michael Mathews

dear ruth, when that has happened to me before I had to use a
drill bit and re-drill the post out of there. Be very careful if
you don’t have a holder or you may drill thru your finger. patty
in spfld, mo

First do you need to get the post out, or will it be hidden. If
you need to use this hole again you will have to drill right into
the post. Now this is difficult if using a drill bit but you can
use a ball bur or flame bur. Be careful and go slow and make
sure you are using a new sharp bur. Sometimes when you are
burring it out the post will catch on the bur and you can pull it
out. If you slip you will widen the hole, but if it hidden don’t
worry just use a larger diameter post to set with.


The previous suggestions of acetone and attack or another
commercial pearl remover work quite well. I use both. I keep a
small amount in a jar with a lid, about the size of a baby food
jar. When I need it I hang it from a wire rack in my heated ultra
sonic. The heat and ultra sonic action make it work much faster.
I have never hurt or damaged a cultured or natural pearl with this

If that does not work, I suggest starting with a .5 or.3mm ball
bur and drill a hole right down the center of the post. Use sharp
new burs, the cost of the burs are nothing compared to the cost of
a new south sea pearl. Go very slowly and carefully. After that
use increasingly larger burs (in small increments) until it is
drilled out or is a thin enough shell that you can pick it out with

To reglue the pearl: 1.drill out all the old glue. 2. solder on
a new threaded post, either an old screw post from an earring or
twist a piece of rectangular shaped wire. 3. using a ball bur the
same diameter as the post, start about 1 mm deep into the pearl and
ream out an area about 1-2 mm deep making the diameter of your hole
larger than the enterance hole. 4. using an old sawblade fill the
hole in the pearl with epoxy 330 or another adhesive of your
choice. Use the sawblade to work out all the air bubbles in the
hole.(You can mount an inch of sawblade in the broken end of a
toothpick to give it a good handle). 5. Put pearl on post. Use
a good strong post so it won’t break off, because… if all goes
well you won’t be able to get this pearl off no matter how hard
you try.

Good Luck Remember you can do anything you think you can. Just
visualize yourself drilling a hole right down the middle of the

Ray Holliday in normally sunny eastern oregon, where El Nino brings
us more rain and snow every day

Trish- As a general rule it's a no-no to bezel set a pearl.

Ma Cher Timothy, Alas…I’m afraid that I’ve been bezel-setting
pearls for lo these many years. In fact, much of the look of my
work is dependent upon that very thing. Just finished a lovely
stamped, sterling cuff with 43 bezel-set freshwater pearls. Ok ok,
I admit that I do glue,(non-yellowing, slightly pliable adhesive
called “Bond 527”, I use it for everything.), as well as
set,(rocking bezel-setter, gently burnished edge), but
none-the-less…Of course, since my pearls are mostly irregular,
there tends not to be the “spinning” that you mentioned. I am
grateful for my former ignorance in this matter, but will
henceforth pay heed . Thank you, Lisa,(wisteria and French jasmine
encicling my house in a scented blaze of glory), Topanga, Ca

Hi, I have always used acetone to remove glue from pearls, isn’t
that less toxic then the chemical that Chuck was talking about.
Of course when I apprenticed it was 15 years ago and haven’t done
much bench work since! BLESSED EASTER HAPPY PASSOVER To All !!

Removing a broken drill from a pearl is as easy as using a high
speed drill to drill it out. No magic. Both materials are softer
than the drill. Just take your time.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
e-mail: @Bruce_Holmgrain

phone:: 703-593-4652

Ruth try steam and going around the post w/a small ball burr then
getting ahold of it with a pair of pointed snips don’t squeeze to
hard just get a good hold and twist slowely also use " Attack ",
before you steam! should work