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Restringing Navajo turquoise beads

LilAlex

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Hoping for some expertise -- maybe @stracci2000?

Spouse's relative has had this legitimately-acquired Navajo necklace for 60+ years. The string just broke at the clasp and she wants to get it re-strung. It looks like a twisted multi-filament string (maybe cotton?) -- but I can't tell why it's all bunched up and matted at the clasp ends. There is about an inch of excess just wrapped round and round. The turquoise beads are "loose" and, of course, not individually knotted.

Not sure I can take this to a jeweler for re-stringing like I would for pearls. And I don't want to look for an antiquities conservator. These are not super-old based on the ? plastic or glass beads near the clasp. The clasp may even be base metal -- does not look like silver. And it's obviously not a super-secure clasp but it is original to the piece (as far as anyone knows).

Forgive the fancy paper-napkin background -- this fell off in a brewpub. We're a classy bunch. Oh, and the awful over-sharpened phone photos.

Screen Shot 2023-05-20 at 2.43.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2023-05-20 at 2.43.59 PM.png

Screen Shot 2023-05-20 at 2.44.30 PM.png
 

Austina

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I’d use tigertail wire because the beads are probably quite heavy. It does look like they’ve just twisted the string (?) at the ends, it looks too thick to be monofilament. It’s a simple DIY job to restring it, you could use the same hook and eye, but I think you’re right, it doesn’t look like silver.

You’ll need tiger tail wire, crimp beads, crimp covers to make it look more finished, and some jewellery making pliers. I also use wire guardians to stop the wire from wearing.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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Hoping for some expertise -- maybe @stracci2000?

Spouse's relative has had this legitimately-acquired Navajo necklace for 60+ years. The string just broke at the clasp and she wants to get it re-strung. It looks like a twisted multi-filament string (maybe cotton?) -- but I can't tell why it's all bunched up and matted at the clasp ends. There is about an inch of excess just wrapped round and round. The turquoise beads are "loose" and, of course, not individually knotted.

Not sure I can take this to a jeweler for re-stringing like I would for pearls. And I don't want to look for an antiquities conservator. These are not super-old based on the ? plastic or glass beads near the clasp. The clasp may even be base metal -- does not look like silver. And it's obviously not a super-secure clasp but it is original to the piece (as far as anyone knows).

Forgive the fancy paper-napkin background -- this fell off in a brewpub. We're a classy bunch. Oh, and the awful over-sharpened phone photos.

Screen Shot 2023-05-20 at 2.43.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2023-05-20 at 2.43.59 PM.png

Screen Shot 2023-05-20 at 2.44.30 PM.png

l like those clasps as they are easy to do up !
im excited the piece is going to be fixed so it can be worn again
 

pearlsngems

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It looks like the original stringer did not have enough beads to make a necklace the length they desired, so they wrapped the two naked strings together to create an extender.

Here is my question: Does the owner want the neckace to be the same length it is now? Or might they like it shorter?

It could be strung shorter, if they want it shorter.

If they want it to be the same length it is now-- or even not the same exact length but a little longer or shorter-- the owner could get some more beads ( look for "heishi" beads if they want the same shape) to use to lengthen it, whose drill hole is much the same as that of the turquoise beads (so the beads hang right on the wire). The additional beads don't have to be turquoise. They could be coral colored, like the little tube beads that are already there. Or any other color. They could be metal beads if they prefer (but remember silver would tarnish and be a pain to keep shiny.)

For the wire, I would use 49 ply (very flexible) Beadalon nylon-coated beading wire and screw-type crimp beads like these:
https://www.firemountaingems.com/search?searchtype=Shop&keywords=scre+crimp+beads

Fire Mountain Gems is also a good source of beads.

Here is how you use them:
1. Pass the beading wire through the crimp, then through one part of the clasp, then back through the crimp, and then you tighten the tiny screw in the crimp until it holds the wire tightly. A drop of Hypo Cement can be added if you wish to ensure the screw never loosens.
2. Then add the beads, hiding the tail of the wire in the drill hole of the red bead that is on the end. Check to be sure doubled wire fits through the hole of the end beads (if you use any other beads.)
3. After stringing on all the beads, repeat this process to attach the other half of the clasp. It will take a bit more care to hide the tail of the wire when finishing the necklace but it can be done. That way there is no wire end sticking out even a little to feel scratchy against the skin. I use bent-tip jewelry pliers to do this-- they get into tight spaces. Or jewelry tweezers. Trim the wire as needed with wire cutters.

I tried using the Guardians but I find the edges a little scratchy on my neck. So I don't cover the wire. I have not had trouble with this.
 
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stracci2000

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Oops! I'm late to the party!
Yes, this is an easy fix.
@Austina and @pearlsngems have given you good advice on how to restring this necklace.
It would be nice finished off with a sterling clasp, as it appears the original one was brass. The twisted ends of the waxed string are a traditional finishing technique. It kind of mimics sinew.

I will add that the turquoise probably wasn't green originally, but blue. Lots of wear causes the turquoise to darken from contact with skin oils and other substances like perfume and lotions.

You can watch a few YouTube videos on stringing bead necklaces to get a feel for this project. It really is simple, anyone can do it.
All the supplies are at your local craft store.
 
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pearlsngems

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Here is another way to finish it, using a cone shaped end bead. This is usually used for multi-strand necklaces with more than 2 strands, but you could do this with just 2 strands, too.
This calls for the more common type of crimp bead that is flattened with pliers.

 

LilAlex

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I’d use tigertail wire because the beads are probably quite heavy.

Have been watching some tutorials on this and looks nice. Spouse has a modern pendant on an uncoated multifilament stainless steel wire and we love the look -- but it is stiffer and stays a little more "hoop-like." Not sure I am bold enough to take this apart myself. It has been this relative's signature piece for most of her long and wonderful life.

l like those clasps as they are easy to do up !

Yes! I had never seen the clasp and I can not believe that this has not been lost over the years. Maybe the heft kept the hook engaged. But just looking at it makes me nervous...

The additional beads don't have to be turquoise. They could be coral colored, like the little tube beads that are already there. Or any other color. They could be metal beads if they prefer (but remember silver would tarnish and be a pain to keep shiny.)

Thank you for the ideas and detailed instructions! I doubt I would have permission to mess with it, design-wise -- and I would be afraid to. I think it is about as authentic as was possible in the middle of the last century. I'm pretty sure it's from a trading post in AZ when they lived there.

It would be nice finished off with a sterling clasp, as it appears the original one was brass. The twisted ends of the waxed string are a traditional finishing technique. It kind of mimics sinew.

I agree. It's funny to hear that because my first thought on seeing those very "organic-looking" free ends was that this must be sinew! But then I saw the very even-caliber multifilament between the beads (last photo). And the wrapping at the ends fits with the waxed nature -- I was wondering how it stayed that way.

Are there folks who would re-do this in that traditional style?

using a cone shaped end bead. This is usually used for multi-strand necklaces with more than 2 strands, but you could do this with just 2 strands,

Yes, I wondered how I would get the two strands to join if I were using a coated multifilament wire. But I will not be able to introduce any new design elements.

Thanks, all -- this has been super-helpful so far!
 

pearlsngems

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Do I understand that you want to reproduce that wrapped look for the final inch or so?

You could do that with Parafilm.

It is not adhesive, but adheres to itself. It's used in labs to seal beakers etc.
You cut the strip you desire, peel off the backing paper, warm it a bit in your hand (it's thermoplastic) and stretch it lightly, while wrapping it. You can buy it in rolls and cut it to any dimensions you wish (but it's easiest to control if the strips are narrower.)

I buy it on eBay in small amounts for under $10.
 

pearlsngems

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I never used it for jewelry, but I have used it to seal off perfume samples that I mailed to my fellow perfumistas. To prevent leaks. I'm sure it has many uses.

I tend to think in functional terms-- what things can do rather than what they are. For example, I just this week realized that a strand of oval ringed freshwater pearls I don't wear are perfect for use as a brush rest when painting. The brushes rest neatly between the pearls and the bristles don't touch the table.
 
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stracci2000

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I just this week realized that a strand of oval ringed freshwater pearls I don't wear are perfect for use as a brush rest when painting. The brushes rest neatly between the pearls and the bristles don't touch the table.

Wow, now that's thinking outside the box!!! Great idea.... I'll have to try that!
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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i was thinking if the origona; necklace is slightly tight for your wife (you havnt mentioned this but someone wondered if the origonal didnt have enough beads) i would put contracting beads at the clasp end so it leaves the bulk of the necklace origonal and intact and in order
 

LilAlex

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necklace is slightly tight for your wife (you havnt mentioned this but someone wondered if the origonal didnt have enough beads)

It's not my wife's -- but I think the size is correct as is. I don't want to mix in random beads. In the US, this is the type of thing where authenticity is important. I don't know if they would ever sell it but the string is the only thing I would muck with.
 
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