The pearl has been a symbol of nature’s perfection since ancient times. It is the oldest known gem, and for centuries it was considered the most valuable. The house of Cartier in New York was an exchange for a double string of natural pearls. Pearls have symbolized the moon, magic, and in Latin literally translate to “unique” as no two natural pearls are identical.
During the 1700s and early 1800s, the growing middle-class in Europe developed an interest in pearls. Seed pearls had become the pearls of choice by the 1800s. Jewelers of the time worked with pearls weaving them on white horsehair from the tail. Their craftsman ship and intricacy were so delicate that they resembled lace.
The majority of the pieces I have come across in my restoration work is painstakingly detailed and intricate.
There is more to reweaving than just restringing pearls. Repeating a pattern is one thing, but dealing with small pearls which are often clogged with glue and horse hair is something else entirely. Reweaving also deals with something I call the ‘perfect curve’. Antique necklaces or chokers never form a straight line: The human neck doesn’t have a shape of a cylinder; it is narrow at the top and wider at the shoulders. To hug the neck perfectly, the necklace must be curved, meaning that the size of the pearls must be gradually reduced from the outside curve towards the inside curve. This difference in sizes is frequently less than half a millimeter. The ‘perfect curve’ is also one indication to distinguish between the real thing and an imitation.
I have done restoration work for auction houses including Christies and Sotheby's as well as numerous private clients. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.