Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Removing epoxy from pearls

Hello Everyone, I have a pair of black Tahitian pearl earrings, I
believe undyed, that has a 14k backing that needs to be removed. I
know the adhesive used was a two part epoxy; can Attack epoxy
dissolver (sold in Rio Grande) be used safely in this case? I’ve
noticed Rio’s version of expoxy remover says it can’t be used on mabe
pearls which has made me a little cautious in this case. Is there a
safer alternative?


Leda, Attack or paint stripper (same thing) will not harm the pearl
but might have an effect if the pearl is not natural or is dyed. I
usually just VERY carefully heat the metal near the pearl, applying a
twisting action to the pearl. It just needs to be warmed a little and
the epoxy will release its hold and the epoxy will come off with your
finger nail. Usually it comes off clean.

Wayne Emery
Jewelry Design Studio

You might try soaking in HOT water. I don’t know much about pearls,
but I assume that hot water won’t hurt them.

I believe that is because the mabe pearls are assembled - there is a
separate piece glued on the back to cover the blister’s base.

Pam Chott
Song of the Phoenix

The reason Attack can’t be used on mobe pearls is because they are
assembled with glue. It should work fine on natural black Tahitian

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers

I’m from Polishers & Jewelers Supply ( in Providence
we sell methylene chloride which is a great stripper for cured epoxy
and paints but it may be to strong like Attack. You probably should
try a heat gun above 300 degrees and melt out the epoxy.

Regarding these Tahitian pearls, is the epoxy the only thing holding
them on? I had a horrible time undoing a pearl that had been screwed
into its setting.

Kat Tanaka

Hello Leda, If you gently heat the finding (NOT the pearls), the
adhesive should become soft enough to pull the pearls off. I use a
soldering iron for a heat source so that the pearls are not exposed
to flame. If the pearls were mounted using the split post and peg, I
don’t know what you can do other than cut off the peg and drill it

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681

Leda, if you are not in a hurry to remove the pearls from their
backing, simply soaking them in water for a week or two will do the
trick, the epoxy just softens and you can then separate the pearls
from the backing and peel the epoxy off.

Renate, Adelaide, South Australia

Yes, epoxy is the only thing holding the pearls to the backing. I was
a little concerned because it was also a large backing with a clip
earring finding, rather than just a post. The heat gun worked very
well and the backing came off cleanly. Now I just have to redesign the
clip backs so they’re positioned correctly to hold onto the center of
the earlobe.


Kat, The ideal in setting a pearl on a peg is either to tap and die it
so, yes, the pearl is literally screwed onto the post or to make the
post fit so tightly in the hole that it is exceedingly difficult to
get off. Not many people tap and die them but a lot do try to make
the fit as tight as possible.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers

Kat, The proper way to set pearls on posts is to use a screw post plus
epxy OR use square wire that is slightly oversize to the hole, twist
it and use epoxy OR split the end of the post, use a small wedge of
metal so that once the post “bottoms out” the wedge widens the post
and it won’t come off. Easy on = easy off. I mentioned earlier that
judicious heating of the post will usually allow you to twist the
pearl off and cleaning in Attack or paint stripper won’t harm the
pearl, unless it’s dyed. Best regards,

Wayne Emery
Jewelry Design Studio

   ( Regarding these Tahitian pearls, is the epoxy the only thing
holding them on?  I had a horrible time undoing a pearl that had
been screwed into its setting.) 

Kat, I do alot with Tahitians,they are tougher and more forgiving
than white akoyas,as you know. Either Attack or a combination of a
soak in Attack, and then clean (or Attack might ignite) and heat the
post with a heat source such as a soldering iron, should loosen the
epoxy, then ‘unscew’ pearl. Or as an earlier post described, you may
have to break off post at source and re-drill it out. Usually, the
first process works well. Thomas Blair Island Gold Works

I fill a film can with the solution in my ultrasonic ( little Mr.
Clean & H20). Put the item in the film can and put the lid on it.
Please it in the warm ultrasonic for an hour or two. Voila! the epoxy
softens and the pearls comes off .

Wayne, thanks for your clear message on the proper ways to set
pearls…but the particular pearl I’m thinking of is still on its
post despite an hour of trying every method a group of bench jewelry
instructors at GIA could think of. Heat, acetone, Attack, alladat.
No go.

I’ve given up.

The place Ive mentioned, Uncommon Conglomerates, has a website. You
can follow this link to the Paleo Bond products page:

Kat, Don’t give up. Cut the post, make an indentation in the gold
with a ball bur and drill it out with a drill bit. You will have to
make sure to drill as straight as possible. Perhaps start with a
drill smaller than the diameter of post. I have sometimes seen a post
for a pearl that was hammered at the end to flare the gold out, so
that when it was inserted into the pearl, it made for an extremely
tight fit.

Good luck,
David Welch

Kat, don’t give up without trying this one! Wrap a pair of parallel
pliers jaws in a soft material with a bit of “bite” to it such as
vellum or chamois leather.

Clamp the pin firmly in the jaws of a vice, and I do mean firmly.
Protect it if you need to with another piece of leather.

Bunch up the leather in the pliers so as to form a good connection
with the pearl and clamp down hard. Now TWIST it. Don’t be gentle!
PULL and PUSH as you twist.

You might shatter the pearl but you are far more likely to get the
pin out. After all JUST HOW VALUABLE IS THE PEARL? Don’t let it beat
you! What are you, a woman or a wombat?

Just keep on going! That’s it!!!

We’re all rooting for you!

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

I have been told that you can use motor oil to remove pearls from
their glued mounting. Place your mounted pearl in a small metal tin
into which you have poured a small amount of motor oil. Warm the tin
with your small torch slowly and allow the pearl to remain in the
warmed oil for an hour or so. You should then be able to grasp the
pearl and remove it without doing damage to your pearl or its
mounting. This will work if the pearl has been glued using jewelers
epoxy. If the pearl has been super glued then the oil trick
probably won’t work. You will need a special solvent specific to

Hi Kat, I am late at checking this discussion out, but just today I
found an old pearl in a box of things that I had been storing for a
few years. Inside the hole of the half drilled pearl I had found was
an old broken post. In the past I had tried drilling them out only
to have the drill skate off to one side, or the other. today in a
bit of frustration, not wanting to waste a pearl and having nothing
to loose I took a ball burr about 1/2 the diam. of the drilled hole.
Holding the burr on its side I was able to control the direction of
the cutting and in about 2 minutes had the old post out with very
minimal damage to the pearl. I was pleased in a big way.

good luck.