How to Hand Knot a Pearl Bead Necklace

    by Melanie L. Marten

    About the Author

    Melanie L. Marten has been self-employed for more than seven years. She taught herself website design and development, as well as freelance writing techniques. Her concentration on articles about making and saving money reflect her interest in helping others improve their quality of life.


    A hand-knotted pearl necklace is a classic piece no woman should be without. The retail price of such elegance, however, can keep pearls out of many a jewelry box. Freshwater pearls, cultured pearls or even high-quality faux pearls are surprisingly affordable when you string them yourself. Hand-knotting between the beads is what makes the strand stand out. Aside from making your own pieces, put your knotting knowledge to work repairing family heirlooms for more generations to enjoy.

    Things You'll Need

    • Beading needle
    • Silk or nylon beading thread
    • Pearl beads
    • Necklace clasp
    • Scissors
    • Clear nail polish, optional

    show more

    Measure a length of the silk or nylon beading thread that is 12 inches longer than the finished pearl bead necklace project. Choose a thickness of thread that fits easily through the pearl beads, but is not so narrow that the beads are loose. A knot made with this thread must stop the bead from sliding. The extra length of the cord is required to affix clasps to the necklace and also for the knots between the pearls. Knots can add 1 to 3 inches to a necklace, depending on the length of the project.

    Tie each end of the of the cord to the handle of a coffee mug and hand the cord from its center over a doorknob overnight with the mugs hanging down evenly to prestretch the cord. If you don't prestretch the cord the necklace eventually sags and will need restringing. Clip off the knots around the mug handles, leaving a cord that is at least 8 inches longer than your planned finished piece.

    Tie one end of the beading thread to a decorative necklace clasp of your choice. Since pearls are elegant jewelry beads, a filigree silver or gold clasp, or one with a half-sphere pearl bead on it would be a good choice. Leave a tail of thread about 2 inches long for weaving back into the necklace to hide the ends. If desired, secure the thread knot with a small dab of beading glue or clear nail polish.

    Thread the other end onto the beading needle. Slip the first pearl bead onto the needle and all the way down to the knot by the clasp. Using another needle, draw the end tail of the thread up through that bead from the other direction. To make the first knot, loop the long thread around the top part of your needle and then push the tip back down through the loop. Pull the needle through the loop making a first tie. As you tighten the loop, pull it down toward the pearl bead with the tip of the needle so it lies tight against the bead.

    Knot the loose thread end into the working thread knot at the same time. Do not make two separate knots. If desired, dab a small drop of clear nail polish onto this first knot and clip the extra thread length away.

    Slide the next pearl bead onto the beading thread and repeat the process. Knot one knot in between every bead that you use. Make the knots in the same way each time so the finished product looks even and professional. Continue until your pearl bead necklace is the length you desire.

    Tie the thread off on the finished end onto the other side of your chosen necklace clasp. Use the same method to tie a knot, dab a touch of glue or clear nail polish, then weave this loose end into the first couple of pearl beads.

    • Choose thread a similar color to your pearls for an elegant look.
    • Re-knot a pearl bead necklace every two to three years as it stretches.