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Custom-Made Pearl Jewelry

Create one-of-a-kind jewelry with this pearl dyeing and stringing process.

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, March 2008


For color consistency, dye a few test pearls and use a stopwatch to time how long you keep each in the dye (We tested ours at five, 10, 20, and 30 seconds, and one, two, and five minutes). Attach the pearls to a card, noting the time next to each, and use this reference chart to choose the saturation of color you prefer.

To create the colors we made, add the following to the hot water and vinegar in step 1:

Yellow-Gold Dye:

2 teaspoons golden yellow powdered Rit Dye
1 teaspoon tan liquid Rit Dye
We kept these pearls in the dye for five seconds.

Mauve Dye:

1 teaspoon mauve powdered Rit Dye
2 teaspoons tan liquid Rit Dye
We kept these pearls in the dye for 30 seconds.

Resources: Glass pearls are available at Crimping pliers, crimpable beads, and monofilament are available at Silk ribbon is available at Rit dye can be purchased at Brush-on nail glue is available at most pharmacies.


  • Hot (not boiling) water

  • Rit dye: powdered and/or liquid

  • Vinegar

  • Spoon

  • Glass pearls

  • Tulle, cut into rounds about the size of a dinner plate

  • Paper towels

  • Stopwatch (optional)

  • Card (optional)

  • For necklace: 63-inch satin ribbon and thirty-eight 12 mm pearls

  • For bracelet: 38-inch satin ribbon and thirteen 10 mm pearls

  • Tapestry needle

  • Spool of .6 mm monofilament

  • 2 crimp beads

  • Crimping pliers

  • Nail glue


  1. First, make the dye: Start with two cups hot (not boiling) water. Add dye (see recipes for two color suggestions above) and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Mix with a spoon.

  2. Place 5 pearls in the center of a tulle round and gather tulle around pearls. Hold gathered tulle and dip pearls in and out of dye mix until the desired color is reached. Rinse the tulle, with pearls still inside, in cold water. Remove pearls from tulle and place on a paper towel to dry.

  3. Begin by downloading the pearl diagram, which helps illustrate how to string the pearls on the ribbon. For the necklace, begin 20 inches from one end of the ribbon. For the bracelet, begin 13 inches from one end of the ribbon. At this point in the length, poke a guide hole with a tapestry needle close to one edge of the ribbon.

  4. Feed monofilament, still on spool, through the ribbon from back to front. Add a pearl. Poke a guide hole diagonal from the first, at the opposite edge of the ribbon. Feed monofilament through this hole, front to back.

  5. Turn the ribbon over so the first bead is in the back, and the monofilament is coming through to the front. Fold the ribbon over itself at a right angle, beneath the last hole. Add a pearl to the monofilament.

  6. Poke a guide hole in the folded part of the ribbon, on the same side as the previous hole. Feed the monofilament through this hole, front to back. Make sure you are not catching the ribbon twice. Turn the ribbon over and pull the monofilament taut. Add a pearl and repeat steps 4 to 6 until you have reached the desired length.

  7. To finish, add a crimp bead to the desired endpoint. Crimp bead with crimping pliers. Add a drop of nail glue to secure the crimp bead. Make a knot in the ribbon to cover the bead. Cut the monofilament from the spool and repeat step 8 to finish the other end.

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