Pearls with wire wrapping
I got the following question via email:
"I just bought your tutorial for the Mosaic Pendant. I have some pearls I'd like to use, but I'm wondering if wire would rub the nacre off? Are pearls a good idea with wire wrapping?"
You shouldn't have a problem with pearls rubbing off, unless you oxidize them and unless they aren't really pearls (imitation pearls). The wire wrapped around pearls will not hurt them at all.
Fake or imitation pearled beads are usually plastic or glass spheres coated with a thin layer of what appears to be mother of pearl. Fake pearls were widely used in vintage custom jewelry, but are not commonly used with precious metals. Fake pearls should not be confused with CULTURED pearls, which are man made by introducing a small element into an oyster and waiting some time until it is covered with a layer of real nacre (mother of pearl). Most of the pearls we use today are cultured pearls, since natural pearls are rare and hard to find.
Yes, pearls can be great for wire wrapping, the problem is when oxidize (antique) the piece, the chemicals can be pretty rough on delicate pearls. To avoid excessive chemicals on pearls, use an old paintbrush to apply the chemicals on to the piece.
Tumbling pearls can also be a little rough on pearls.