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Removing gold posts broken off in a pearl

To all,

I have read the archives about how to get a broken drill bit out of a
pearl. But I have an 18k gold screw eye peg that the jump ring has
been broken off of and the peg is stuck inside the pearl.

I made the peg from twisted 20-gauge square wire so I know its 18k.
Other than trying to drill it out, which will make a horrible mess
of the pearl hole, what are my options? Will a pearl stand up to aqua

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228

If you’re setting the pearl in a cup (with peg) simply drill another
hole next to the hole-with-peg and carry on. Both holes will be
hidden by the cup.

Get yourself a pearl drilling jig. There’s one that has two nylon
holders (several sizes in the kit) where the drill goes through the
center of the nylon thingabob, automatically aligning itself. You
can line up the broken end of the peg by sighting through the hole in
aforesaid thingabob. Your drilling will go easier and more accurate
if you can flatten or dimple the broken peg end with a bur
beforehand. Do not use constant pressure, use an off and on
technique, this will allow a straighter cut. And if the resulting
hole is bigger just install a bigger post.

Using acid might make you a nice pseudo-alkaseltzer.

Will a pearl stand up to aqua regia? 

No, Nanz, a pearl won’t stand up to any acid, not even vinegar. The
stuff of pearls is candy to acid. You could use Attack. The old
fashioned way is to heat up the post in a flame - holding the pearl
in your fingers. Thus if your finger is burning, the pearl is
We also put it in a coffee cup under water and put it in the
microwave. Putting it under water removes the “no metal in
microwaves” thing…

Hi Nans;

Yikes! NO ACIDS! Pearls fizz like alka-seltzers in any kind of acid,
even viniger. They will completely dissolve, and rather quickly at
that. If the peg is glued in place, try MEK. I know, nasty stuff, but
it’s about all that will cut cured epoxy. “Attack”, a product sold by
jewelry suppliers, is better, but it’s even more hazerdous, and it
will cost you a pretty penny to have it shipped, since it’s a
hazerdous material. Personally, I’d got for drilling it out. Get a
tiny round burr, maybe 0.8 millimeters and make a small dent in the
end of the wire. Then use a small drill bit, around 1.0 millimeters
and drill down into it. If that doesn’t completely remove it,
continue to enlarge the hole in the peg willl consecutively larger
round burs untill it’s gone. Take great care at this point. If you
break off the drill bit or a round bur in the peg, you’ll have to
send the job to me to have it fixed. :-).

David L. Huffman


As I am sure you have heard by now, pearl is mostly a calcium
carbonate - avoid ALL acids or you will get a reaction like baking
soda and vinegar–and a dramatic demise for you pearl. The best
answer may be drilling a new hole along side the old one, gently
warming the pearl to loosen and free the broken stem, soaking in a
nasty solvent like methylene chloride or as a long shot, using an
poisonous alkaline cyanide solution to dissolve the post. If there
is any post available, you might be able to laser a new stem. It
still seems like drilling another hole next to the existing peg and
then covering it with a small gold circle may be you best bet.

I have a Jade “pearl” in the same condition - any other suggestions
out there?

Marlin in a gorgeous, warm Denver Colorado.

If you’re setting the pearl in a cup (with peg) simply drill another
hole next to the hole-with-peg and carry on. Both holes will be
hidden by the cup.

A ball burr, metal or diamond, is easy to use to remove the post.
once you get down a little ways, you can use a steel drill as the
sides of the hole will prevent the drill from drifting sideways.

Richard Hart

When I worked in PMC and used fine silver as posts in my designs, I
had occasion to relocate some epoxied posts. I used ‘Attack’ glue
dissolver or softener and it did not harm the metal or the pearls.


Thanks for all the fast answers! I kinda thought acids and pearls
didn’t mix. duh!

I soaked the pearl in a small jar of finger nail polish remover
(acetone), sealed the jar and set it in the ultrasonic to get rid of
the glue. This works really well to get most crazy glue and zap-a-gap
off without a lot of hazardous materials or possibly burnt

If the post was protruding even in the least bit I would try to laser
on a new jump ring, but it is about 1mm below the edge.

It’s a rather expensive teardrop South Sea and I won’t be able to
hide a second drill hole. Nor can I just buy a new pearl to match the
other. So, wish me luck I am going to drill.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228

This was not an uncommon situation to see when I did repairs. A
quick and easy technique that I have used many times to remove a post
that has broken off inside a pearl, providing the post is flush or
slightly protruding, is to use a soft solder “gun”. (The pistol
griped type that heat quick and cool down fast, not the pencil.)
Clear the tip of the gunk that accumulates and make sure there is a
thick film of clean solder. Grip the pearl between finger tips under
the nails in one hand, this allows a good hold and to monitor heat.
Using no flux, as it is often an acid and will damage the pearl,
touch, do not press, the solder gun tip to the exposed end of the
broken post. pulse the trigger to heat the post and soften the glue.
(Vent hood recommended to be on the safe side ) Now for the tricky
bit. If the solder film was clean, it has wet the broken end of the
post. Release the trigger and allow the solder to solidify with out
moving, even slightly. The pearl is warm by now so it may be harder
then it sounds. When the solder frosts, and while the glue is still
soft; simply pull the broken post (now delicately affixed to the tip
of the gun) straight out of the hole. Ta Da! :slight_smile:

David Lee, CMBJ
david lee jeweler