Altered Pearl Bracelets

I’ve been wearing these new-to-me pearl bracelets non-stop since unwrapping them on Christmas Day, and wanted to share the “duh” moment I had recently that made them wearable. These used to measure 7″ in length, which just slipped right off my hand. Now they measure 6″ in length, and fit perfectly on my wrist. All they needed were a little bit of alterations…

One of these bracelets has been sitting in my jewelry box for literally years. I would pull it out every now and then, thinking I could just wear it very carefully, but as soon as I relaxed my arm, it would slip right off my hand. The last time this happened, I finally realized…”hey, I can just get a few of these pearls removed to make it smaller!” Duh! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

So, here’s the “duh” moment: if bracelets are made of pieces, they can usually be made smaller for small wrists. Bracelets that are made of links, or in this case, pearls, can have some of those pieces removed for a better fit. With a few tools, many of these alterations can be made yourself, or you can visit a professional to have it done for a reasonable price.

In the case of these bracelets, six pearls were removed and the rest of the bracelet restrung by a professional in the Downtown Los Angeles jewelry district (great place to find quality jewelry or repairs for much less than retail stores if you live in Southern California). If you’re crafty, this can certainly be done yourself with some strong thread (usually silk for pearls), and the patience to knot the string after each individual pearl (this is done in case the strand breaks. If each pearl is individually knotted, you won’t have a mess of pearls rolling all over the place to get lost.). To get something like this professionally done, the usual price is somewhere between $2-$4 per inch of restringing, but varies by pearl size, city and shop. For a bracelet with links, jewelry pliers or a professional can usually remove a few links.

I asked my mom to check restringing prices during one of her frequent trips Downtown, and she surprised me this Christmas with not only my little bracelet shortened, but it’s twin sister that she found hanging out in the bottom of her jewelry box! Thanks mom! =)

So there you have it. A little reminder that not only clothing, but accessories can be altered for petite frames as well. My favorite sterling silver ball bracelet was shortened by me a few years ago, but I recently discovered it’s too-big-for-me sister in my jewelry box. Would anyone be interested in a “how I shortened my silver bracelets” post? Nevermind…just took a closer look and it’s a box chain underneath, and can’t be shortened without the ability to weld sterling silver back together. Darn!

Does anyone do their own bead/pearl restringing? Any tips?

Join the Conversation


  1. says: R.L.

    I would also love to hear if anyone has any restringing tips!  When I was in China, I bought a pearl necklace and bracelet and they strung it (and knotted it after each pearl) right in front of me to match my wrist and neck.  If I knew which thread and needle to buy I would totally restring some of my other pearl necklaces.

    1. says: joceline

      Sorry to delurk awkwardly after being a long-time reader, but I love to restring pearl necklaces, since you can often buy pretty nice pearls on ebay/etsy from overseas.  The only downside from buying from wholesalers is that they’re usually strung on fishing line without any knots in between.  I use Dandyline from Michael’s, it’s just a thin, very strong white synthetic thread that’s almost impossible to break and makes a nice, tight knot.  You can find it in the beads section next to the jewelry wiring and findings, and as for a needle, I usually dip the end in some clear nail polish, roll it between my fingertips, and let it dry into a stiff point.  I learned from this video!

  2. says: ADL

    I’ve heard you should get your pearls restrung on a regular basis as the thread/silk weakens overtime (as with all fabrics).  I had my great-grandmother’s pearl necklace restrung by a professional; it was worth it to me to not have to worry about me damaging them.

  3. says: Anonymous

    Of course! I don’t have as big of an issue as you do with large bracelets but there are ones that I have that are just slightly too big.  I would love to see how you alter them!

  4. says: Tiffany

    I have re-sized a few pearl necklaces, etc. but they were usually made with individual eyepins instead of knots, so I did it with needle-nose pliers. 

    One money-saving tip I do have: use the pearls that are taken off of the larger piece for matching earrings. (If you’re a DIY-er, the jewelry findings can be found at any craft store or online.) 

  5. says: 86flowers

    I have the same problem with bracelets and had my pearl bracelet shortened for my wedding day.  It cost around $45 to have it restrung, shortened, and to add pearl clasps.  It now fits like a charm!  

  6. says: Stephanie

    In general, I’d make sure that the restringing is done in front of you.  You don’t want to walk out of the store with a lower quality set of pearls than you came with!

    1. Very good point! Same with any kind of jewelry repairs in general. My mom once had an incident with a shopping mall jewelry repair shop that switched out one of her diamonds! She was furious & got her diamond back. Scary!

  7. says: Helen Hou

    Useful tips and info. I came across the similar problem before. I have a nice pearl necklace which I wish can be longer for certain outfits also when I want to use it as a bracelet. 
    Then I found a pearl necklace which matches the necklace very well. So when I need a longer pearl necklace, I add the bracelet to my necklace, of course it need to be under the collar or hair because of the obvious ends. When I need a unique bracelet, I also tie them together and the whole length is long enough for wrapped four times. 

  8. says: Nelah

    Ever since I ventured out into making jewelry, I found that making jewelry is not as difficult as I thought it would be and the best part it is a WHOLE lot cheaper to make your own jewelry and they fit perfectly. I am still kind of new to the whole beading thing and only learn through trial and error (I hate reading). That was nice you could alter it. We all know how hard it is to find small bracelets that fit tiny writs.

    Thanks Kelly for sharing your thoughts on my post :)

  9. says: Rites of Beauty Blogger

    Neat! My only question – is it difficult to use the clasp given the relatively short length of the bracelet?

  10. says: caramilk

    Silk thread is normally used for stringing pearl beads, but after stringing each bead, you would need to knot them securely and hide the knot in the bead as best as possible. I do this regular for family and relatives.

    If you restring them yourself, the string would cost about $2-$4 dollars compared to getting it altered for that price.

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