Removing drill bits from Pearls

I’m trying to drill completely through large (12-15mm) gray pearls.
I’ve broken off my drill bit in two of the pearls. One is broken
deep inside the pearl, almost drilled all the way through, the other
is broken off at the top of the pearl and I can feel a little of the
bit sticking out of the top. Help, does anyone have a clue as to how
I can get these bits out of the pearls?

Thanks! SD


When I break drills off in gold items I just soak them in Sparex
pickle. It dissolves them rather quickly, 15 minutes or so. The only
thing I’m not sure of in this case is the reaction of pearls to
Sparex. I know that short term it doesn’t seem to harm them, but I’m
not sure about longer times. You may want to experiment with a
cheap/broken pearl. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Best Regards,
Robert Wise Studio

Just put the pearls in strong salt water, and keep it warm (no need
to boil) for a couple of days, I’ll bet they come out long before the
two days are up.

Salt does wonders on cars, so a little drill bit should be a breeze.

Allan Creates
P.F.F. Hinged Ring Shanks

Pearls are largely calcium carbonate and sulfuric acid ( sparex) will
destroy them.

This will probably be faster than the iron drill.


Hi Bob;

The only thing I'm not sure of in this case is the reaction of
pearls to Sparex. 

Pearls in Sparex will fizz like alka-seltzers until they are gone, at
least the nacre will dissolve. Generally, all yo can do is just drill
the hole off to the side of it a bit and use more epoxy. If it’s a
full drilled pearl with a hole you’re enlarging, drive it out with a
stiff wire from the other side. If it’s meant to be full drilled and
the bit broke off before it got there, drill from the other side
until you hit the broken bit, then drive it out. Piece of advice:
keep those bits very wet with water when you’re drilling and go slow.

David L. Huffman

Pearls will get melted by lots of things! I accidentally got just a
little sparex on a pair Tahitian Pearls once and they started to turn
into white slime. I quickly rinsed and rinsed in cold water, the
melting stopped. I had to hand polish with a cloth for about 10
minutes to get the nacre shiny again. Sorry but I have no advice on
removing the bit.


Well I hope you got the drills out by now, I hope you do trust the
salt water I suggested, don’t dismiss it as pearls are born in the
ocean, and that is very salty.

I was thinking that I hope you observe the process and make sure
that while keeping it warm you keep the water topped up, don’t let it
get dry while on the heat.

Allan Creates
P.F.F. Hinged Ring Shanks

Calvin Espinoza, a member of a watchmakers’ group I belong to,
posted something that might be helpful. I do not know how alum might
affect pearls, but here is the germain part of his post:

There are actually quite a few ways to remove rust from a movement,
and each of its individual parts.

The way that I learned at school was to COMPLETELY strip the movement
of anything that was steel, and use alum, which “eats” steel like
acid. Since rust is just oxidized steel, it cleans right up!

Now, this ONLY works IF the part that needs to be cleaned is in
fact, NOT steel itself. Since the pillar plate/main plate is
generally made from brass and then nickle plated, you are safe.
(sidenote; this is also an excellent way to remove a broken

Del Pearson of Designs of Eagle Creek in Beautiful South Texas


I use an air driven handpiece with a carbide bur like dentist use!!!
Then say bye bye to the old post ahhh!!! Simple efficient &
reproducible !!! Try it and you will like it !!! For personnel help
Please call me @ 1-812-522-3228 Jeff ellis