Thursday, June 21, 2012

A saga with a twist......

This is the saga of the red coral necklace. I'd go and make a cup of coffee, if I were you - it goes on a bit.

About four months ago, my friend Ingeborg handed me a bag with a necklace in it. "Can you do something with this?" she said. I took a quick look and said "Maybe." It was a rather lovely four strand necklace made with red coral beads and the clasp was solid gold! One of the strands was broken but, according to Ingeborg, none of the beads were missing.

I brought it home, put it in my project box and left it there for a day or two. Upon my next inspection, I realized that I did not have suitable thread in stock. It would have to be red, to blend with the coral beads. At this point, I seriously considered informing my friend that, on this occasion, I would not be able to mend her lovely necklace. I've never let her down before and decided I wouldn't this time!  I had to put an order in for something else anyway so I sourced the best thread I could find. I went for Griffin Silk Bead Cord as I had heard this was the best quality one could buy. I had it shipped to my Mum's in the UK ready for my next visit. My suitcase always comes back heavier than it went out!

I spoke to Ingeborg about ordering the red silk and she said "No hurry!" Just as well, really.

A few weeks later and I'm home in Spain, red silk thread in hand, taking another gander at said necklace. It was at this point that I noticed that the four strands had a natural twist. When I picked it up they didn't unravel but stayed wrapped around each other. "How do they do that, then?" I mused. There must be a method, a trick, a technique. I mused some more - about a week's worth, actually.

It was at this point, again, that I considered telling my friend that I could not mend her lovely necklace. Back into the project box with it! I wimped out on both counts. Actually having a go at fixing said necklace or, alternatively, admitting defeat to Ingeborg.

A couple of weeks later, I grew a backbone of sorts and started doing some research on line. I found numerous articles and forum posts about twisted multi strand necklaces but none seemed to offer the correct solution. Just as I was about to give up, I came across a small post on a tiny beading forum that resonated with me! Eureka! The trick is to join the threads of beads together at one end, tape them down and then twist each individual strand the same number of times in the same direction. Then, join the other ends together whilst keeping the tension. Exactly how many times I was supposed to twist, I could not fathom but - I now had a technique I could use!

I cut the silk thread, nice and long, just in case and threaded the four rows of beads. I tied a big knot at one end. Now comes the easy bit, I thought. "I'll just attach the silk to one half of the clasp, tape that down and start twisting." Oh dear. Not as easy as it looked. The gold clasp was of an old fashioned style and had no rings or loops. Just a small hole with an upright bar soldered inside. I took a couple of photos. It's a bit fuzzy but you may be able to see what I mean:

The four strands of silk thread would not pass behind the bar.  "Well, perhaps two would suffice?" I thought. No dice. God knows how the poor souls who made the necklace originally managed it. Perhaps their thread was thinner than mine? In the end, I could only pass one thread behind the bar and only that with a great deal of jiggery pokery. I tied my knots and stood back. Hideous! I couldn't bear to look at it. Totally unacceptable. 

It was at this point, yet again, that I considered telling Ingeborg that I could not mend her lovely necklace. Her lovely necklace that was now in bits. Her lovely necklace that had been in my possession for weeks. I untied my hideous knots and repaired to the computer for another spot of research. They don't make clasps like that any more for a good reason. Nowhere could I find even a hint of a possible method. I asked my fellow Etsy team members to put their thinking caps on on my behalf. They came up with several suggestions, some of which could have worked but didn't - mostly because of my hamfistedness and incipient stirrings of panic!

It was at this point......No, giving up was not an option. Onwards and upwards! Do or die! From my previous fumblings, I knew I could make a little hook from wire that would go round the bar. If I could pull some fine wire through, I could wrap the knot to the clasp! Unfortunately, I only had sterling silver and copper wire - or so I thought! 

If you could see my workshop, you'd understand why I didn't know that I possessed a small amount of fine vermeil wire, eminently suitable for the task at hand. During the forensic search, I found many other things I didn't realize I owned!

Knot now wrapped securely to the clasp, I taped it all down and started twisting. I guessed at twenty revolutions - not nearly enough. Just a small hint of a twist when I held on to the ends and let the other end go. After several attempts and, as it turned out, one hundred (!!) turns, the magic happened and the lovely necklace was looking almost like it's lovely old self again! Hanging on for grim death, I hastily tied a knot as close to the beads as possible and then, taking a deep breath, I let go. It worked! I danced around the room a few times, got my breath back and then wire wrapped the other end of the clasp to the new knot. And this is the final result:

Not the most precise bit of wrapping, I know, but at least she can wear it! I haven't told her yet. When I do, she'll probably faint.

I did put the newly resurrected vermeil wire to good use immediately. I made this, soon to be listed on my new Bluetina website:


  1. Congratulations Tina. It looks perfect and I loved your post.

    1. Thanks Becky! It's not perfect but it's as close as it's going to get! Hope the post wasn't too long - I do tend to run off at the mouth sometimes!

  2. Tina, congratulations on that kind of perseverance. It is lovely. You know, in all my years of dealing with vintage jewelry, I have never seen a bar like that.

    Your new piece is great too.

    1. Thanks Libby! I hope I never see another clasp like that, either!