One of my best customers brought me several strands of keishi pearls
(cornflake pearls) which she wants me to string, with knots, and to
create a small cloisonne enamel set in gold for the clasp.
The keishi pearls that she brought have an excellent lustre, and are
side drilled. However, the centers of the pearls are very thin.
Therefore, the thread on which they are strung and goes through from
side to side, is visible on the concave side of the pearls. I don’t
like the looks of them.
I have never worked with keishi pearls before, and the ones I have
seen are thicker and do not have the thread showing in the center of
the concave areas.
I am concerned about working with these thin pearls. It is usual for
keishi to be this thin, and have the thread showing when they are
Before I agree to undertake this project I thought I had better get
some expert opinion about these pearls.
This customer is very easy to work with, and always follows my
suggestions. If the consensus is that the pearls are inferior, I
will have no hesitation discussing it with her. However, I don’t want
to jump to a conclusion by assuming the pearls are not best quality.
Therefore will wait for your advice.
Cover the knots between the pearls with a wide drilled gold bead.
That way the knots don’t show and you cover the threads between the
The keshi pearls are not ideal, but it depends on the number of
keshi pearls whose silk will show.
As they are all nacre (being are non-nucleated), their thin nature
on its own is not a concern, as they have more strength than one
would assume. I have tried to break some “petal” keshi with my hands
and have not succeeded; using a hammer is another matter.
If the stands have 3-4 keshi where the silk will show, I’d
high-grade the strand and use the less fortunate keshi in another
application. If the majority of the side-drilled petals will show the
silk on which they’re strung and if I could color match the silk to
the pearls, I’d use them with the understanding from my client that
the silk would be visible if one looked closely.
If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me off-line
and we’ll have a cup of tea.
Alma - no disprespect intended, but I don’t understand your concern.
You “don’t like the look of them”? So what! Your customer likes them,
they have excellent luster, and she’s willing to pay to have them
strung. String 'em up! (If the Keishi are really thin, the knots
might be out-of-scale - perhaps she’d consider every 2 knotted, or
string them on super thin gold-colored SoftFlex for a different
look.) I have seen both keishi and biwa-style stick pearls where the
stringing medium bisects the pearl - works for some things, not for
others. Consider it a design challenge.
Susan “Sam” Kaffine
Sterling Bliss, LLC
Hi everyone who had suggestions about the Keishi pearls.
I Found out the customer does not like them after all. I strung up a
few to show her how they would look. I made absolutely no comments
about them as I was interested in her reaction.
She zeroed in immediately on the conspicuous thread that crossed
over the concave part of each of the pearls. I am not talking about
just a few of the pearls, but all of them. The knots between the
pearls were no problem, but the exposed thread across each of the
pearls did bother her. (Think of a bowl, with a hole drilled through
each side. The thread goes through one hole, across the concave part
of the bowl, and out the other side. )
She and I have always worked well together, and I was relieved that
we were of the same mind about the keishi. After she expressed her
concern about them, I told her that I had the same concerns.
So, she decided that as she wants a quality piece she brought me
some other pearls that she had, which are just lovely. They are
freshwater pearls, very high luster, almost perfectly round, about
8mm in size. I have made a cloisonne clasp set in 18K gold, and she
wants a few gold beads interspersed among the pearls.
She is happy, and I am happy. Thanks to everyone who made
suggestions about this.