Releasing pearl from epoxy?

Hope someone can help me. I made an attempt to loosen a pearl from
the epoxy in a ring so I could size it. I thought I could heat it a
little with the torch and it would come out. It didn’t, although I
did not heat it much for fear of damaging the pearl. The pearl is in
the setting in such a way that I can’t get a hold of it and pull at
it and have to depend on gravity for it to fall out once the epoxy
softens. Should I continue to apply more heat?

Some epoxies are downright stubborn and will only burn off when the
pearl starts to burn too. You may need to soak the item in acetone
or other resin dissolving solution for a while to help breakdown the
epoxy. Personally acetone has always worked for me.

Larry Seiger

Net hello!

That has happened to me I think twice. A stubborn pearl just low
enough and surrounded in the setting that you can’t get leverage to
pry it out. Damned irritating! What I did was made a dop out of
hardwood to fit the pearl well. Then epoxy it! Providing you have
been soaking in Attack or acetone awhile it should come out when the
new glue is well cured. Good luck!


There is a product called Attack Epoxy Solvent that can be used on
pearls (real pearls only not imitation) to dissolve epoxy safely
without harming the surrounding material. It’s inexpensive and easy
to use.

You can probably get it from any old supplier but my favorite
supplier (and I know yours too) is:


Elaine Corwin
Orders: 1-800-243-4466
Fax: 203-335-0300

Soak it in Attack in a closed container.
Elaine Northern Illinois, USA

You might try this: Make a little “noose” out of stout cotton thread
and laso it, like a slip knot that will tighten behind the pearl as
you pull on it. If you’ve soaked it for a while in “Attack”, perhaps
overnight, pull on it a bit. If that doesn’t work, use a soldering
iron, the tip of which has been scraped clean of any lead solder, see
if you can apply heat to an area behind the pearl, say ,the underside
of the ring where the base of the pearl-peg would be. You’ll see the
epoxy start smoking before the pearl starts to scorch. I’ve done
this, and it’s safer than heating with a torch.

David L. Huffman

Are you familiar with a product called Attack? It requires no heat
and doesn’t seem to hurt pearl nacker. It is sold in metal
containers, but the directions say to pour the amount needed into a
glass jar–I suppose to watch your progress. At any rate, a few
gentle shakes over just a few minutes is all I’ve ever needed to
dissolve the epoxy. If you decide to try Attack read
the directions–its probably good for lots of things. HTH, Joyce

Wow, Attack doesn’t hurt pearl nacre? I thought just about anything
would deteriorate pearl nacre. I will give it a try. Thanks.


Attack, is quite toxic and following the directions is very
important, This product should also only be used with a lot of
ventilation. Incidentally I normally use my wax pen to remove pearls
by heating the base of the mounting, (where the epoxie is) and
pulling the pearls off. With a little attention there is little risk
this way.


Just alittle personal experience. I just use my steamer and try to
make it hit right at the point of metal to pearl contact. Holding it
for the count of 10 and then trying to twist the pearl very carefully
has worked for me 99% of the time. Sometimes it takes more than one
shot of steam. And for those really stubborn stains, I mean epoxies,
I use Attack, works everytime and haven’t killed a pearl yet!

Matt the Catt @ C.I.A.

The heated epoxy might have lost it’s strength, but the pearl won’t
just drop off without help until you’ve heated it enough that it’s
really starting to bubble and burn and stuff like that. This will not
be good for your pearl. heating works, but you usually have to be able
to at least nudge it some to pull it away from the setting. I’d
suggest immersing it in Attack ™ solvent overnight. It tends to
swell the epoxy as it softens and dissolves it, so often the pearls
get popped out. And if not, with things cold, you could use some
sticky wax to pull the pearl off the mounting, once the epoxy is
softened by the Attack. Please note: Don’t use Attack or other
solvents with assembled pearls like Mabe’ pearls. You’ll destroy them
if you do. At this point, since you’ve already heated the epoxy,
you may already need to reglue the pearl to get a good bond after
sizing. had you not done that, I’d have suggested not removing the
pearl, but instead just immersing the top half of the ring, including
the pearl, in water while you solder the sizing seam. It’s pretty
unusual for a ring to require so much heat that this method then still
damages the epoxy. Heavier silver rings can do it sometimes, but most
of the time, the heat sinking you can get with the pearl/top of the
ring upside down under water is enough to completely protect both the
pearl and the epoxy.

Peter Rowe

Dear Wayne, Great idea ! (Using the wax pen to heat up the pearl peg)
I made my own wax pen using a mini-soldering iron and a light switch
dimmer…works great AND it has the advantage of temperature
variability and control. Isn’t it funny how we often overlook
unintended uses of our tools ? A propos of Pearl removal and intended
usage, I often nudge pearls off their pegs using needle nosed round
pliers…after heating, I lift the pearl from the bottom using
leverage. Whatever floats your boat !
Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

    Hope someone can help me. I made an attempt to loosen a pearl
from the epoxy in a ring so I could size it. 

I’m glad you asked this, because I have had a beautiful pearl for
years that I want to reuse, but have been afraid to mess with it. I’ve
been told that I can soak the whole thing in acetone, but am not
convinced this would not harn the pearl. Hope we both get answers!

Hello I have found attack to be very sutible bor removing preals but
I don’t use an open container but a jar with a lid and abouit an inch
of water on top of the attack it wont smell and it wont evaporate .
The attack wont wix with water itsays on the bottom . If you have
bought attack you know how exspenive it can be so this helps reduce
your cost per removal of glued in sets and pearls.

yours John L. Kamfonik

I keep reading all these references to Attack–new to me. Sounds
great–am wondering if it will work for the following: tiny holes in
sterling into which I had glued fine wires w/ epoxy… except the
epoxy didn’t set. I tried three times; three times the epoxy failed
to harden completely. This was on three different days, w/ three
different mixing surfaces/two different of epoxies. I can only
conclude that there’s something [oily?] in those %$&*#!! little
holes–now nicely gummed in there under layers of epoxy-goop. I think
b/c the holes are so small they never got properly cleaned by misc.
pickling/heating procedures. What about an initial soak in Attack,
followed by a scrape-out with the tip of an old sawblade, then an
’injection’ with a syringe of Attack… ??? Sound like the right
approach? An appropriate application of/for Attack??

O.K., I confess, this is still my bee/antennae mess. I wish, wish,
wish I could apply some of the fantastick suggestions the more
experienced jewellers offered; you can bet my next bug will have
threaded feelers, and as soon as I’ve the resources I’ll be cooking
’em in the oven. Now I just want to deal with this piece however I
can given the limitations, and move on to my next learning experience.
(A major problem is that the holes aren’t very deep, and simply WILL
NOT go deeper; I guess they’re burnished/tempered by the drill bit??
And, yes, there’s a snapped drill bit jammed in there too. Also, this
piece has no right to even exist, given the number of times its
manymanymany [delicate] components have been heated; it simply will
not stand any more heat.)

So… I need to clean it up, and then (sigh) re-epoxy–I guess. Yuk.
It’s nuts: this whole project took a huge amount of time and
labour–but it moved constantly forward. It really was virtually
glitch-free, until this very very last ‘finishing touch’ detail. I
felt better when I thought I might be able to electroform over the
epoxy (& also reinforce the not-so-deeply-embedded antennae); from the
feedback I rc’vd I understand that’s not really a likely answer.
Here’s another question: in the last stages of assembly I was down to
supereasy solder. I don’t like the yellowish cast; it’s not all that
visible, but this is a very detailed piece that invites the eyes up
close, and to me this spoils things. What about silver plating? Will
it mask the SE tint? And is there, by some miracle, a conductivizing
agent that I could dab around the (presumably SET) antannae base, to
cover the epoxy & create a seamless silver join when the piece is
plated? And about plating in general: does the process put any
stress on metal/solder? Does it require heat? How does it effect
superfine detail/texturing?

I realise there are a lot of questions here. Hell, a lot of words.
Thanks to all who’ve ploughed through–and to those who can/will offer
answers to any part. Also, a special thank you to those of you who
responded to my first postings Re: this problem. Some of you reached
out w/ sendings/offers, & I feel shoddy for not acknowledging. I
plead ‘moving’ stress.

By the way, I really liked John’s tip Re: water on top of Attack.
Odour & evaporations are issues with many products; I guess there must
be other applications for this, too. Any ideas/experience, anyone?

And, out of the blue I just remembered that a friend used to put tin
loaf pans of kitty litter in her closets to absorb odour. I wonder if
it absorbs atmospheric moisture, too?