Pearl by Pearl, She Built a Jewelry Career

LONDON — Ahead of her profitable, if fairly market, occupation, the Hungarian-born pearl stringer Renata Terjeki was under no circumstances a lover of pearls.

“I in no way desired to string,” said Ms. Terjeki, 47, in a recent video clip interview from her little, windowless, lamp-lit workshop, tucked in the basement of the luxurious antique jeweler Bentley & Skinner on London’s bustling Piccadilly.

To her thoughts, pearl necklaces ended up the maintain of people today more than 80, and stringing was an easy pursuit: “I assumed all they do is just chuck the pearls on a string, tie it someway, and that’s it,” she mentioned.

Now, Ms. Terjeki is entrusted with some of the world’s most beautiful pearl jewelry, to be restrung, repaired and often redesigned.

Discretion “is an unspoken rule in the trade,” said Ms. Terjeki, who is generally necessary to indication confidentiality agreements when operating on substantial-conclude parts. But purchasers she can title involve the auction residences Bonhams and Sotheby’s, and the jewelry emporiums Moussaieff and Bentley & Skinner. Personal customers have involved a daughter of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, (for whom she strung a prayer-bead-like gold and pearl necklace one particular Christmas), and European royalty.

Nearly all locate her by way of word of mouth.

In 2015, Ms. Terjeki, opened an Instagram account under the moniker @stringing_along. She wanted to proper the misconceptions around pearl stringing that she herself experienced harbored. Among the functions on display there are woven pearl observe straps, black diamond loafer tassels, gemstone curtain ornaments and an antique Cartier bag covered in tiny pearls.

Contrary to what one may well assume, valuable and semiprecious stone beads, and often even coral, make up an estimated 35 to 40 percent of Ms. Terjeki’s do the job, she explained. (“It’s the same technique,” she reported. “Just a distinct materials.”) And even ribbon is section of her repertoire. It is ordinarily a pearl stringer’s task to wind velvet, hair-colored ribbons about the frames of some tiaras, she said.

To date, her Instagram feed has additional than 17,000 followers, some no question drawn by the profession’s uncommon mother nature: Professional pearl stringers are really hard to arrive by.

“She is 1 of a dwindling number of unbiased practitioners trying to keep alive this important skill,” reported Emily Barber, director of jewellery at Bonhams British isles — an auction home that has worked with Ms. Terjeki for 12 decades. (“Renata is the doyenne of pearl stringers,” she claimed.)

Ms. Terjeki estimates there are only a handful of significant-stage pearl stringers left in London.

This scarcity is very likely the result of a shift absent from the regular wearing of high priced, organic pearls, mentioned Kristian Spofforth, head of division, Sotheby’s jewellery, London. In the early 20th century, when normal pearls were at their peak, “it’s something you received finished routinely,” he explained. In this day and age, he said, far more people are putting on cultured pearls or significantly less useful pearls.

“Perfecting it and accomplishing it well is remarkably challenging,” he mentioned of the operate.

Ms. Terjeki arrived on the career by possibility, when a veteran stringer offered her an apprenticeship, and in aspect credits her results to her qualifications as a goldsmith.

In Budapest, she studied less than a master goldsmith, Rezso Ludvig, an artist effectively regarded within Hungarian jewellery circles for restoring the Hungarian crown jewels, she explained. His insistence that all learners find out to craft every little thing by hand applying only the most fundamental applications can be noticed in her work currently.

However expert resources exist, her have are basic. And, besides for her drill and model, all suit into a wooden box she carries with her when the worth of a piece implies she’s needed to string in other places.

Amid the number of objects arranged inside of, claimed Ms. Terjeki, can be discovered a “gimp” — a little coil of metallic that helps prevent the pearl from rubbing towards the clasp, a .23-millimeter needle — the slimmest offered — for threading, and a section of a red cotton table runner introduced from a housewares retail store. (The colour permits her to see the pearls obviously, and the cloth “has little grooves, which stops the pearls rolling,” she mentioned.) Knots are tied with an “ordinary” needle that slots into a rounded wood deal with, she stated. And as for her thread, however some use silk, Ms. Terjeki favors nylon: Not like silk, nylon “is tough, so the knot stays nice and neat,” she said.

Though she declined to give a base price tag since of the numerous variables (principally regardless of whether the customer is trade or private, the value of the piece and the time it will choose), her do the job ranges broadly in price and complexity.

At one conclude of the scale are one-row necklaces. At the other are plaited sautoirs — the French name for extended necklaces shaped of woven ropes of pearls with wires crisscrossing inside of that normally culminate in one or additional tassels. As the perform can need up to 10 hours a working day of entire focus for 3 weeks to a thirty day period, she mentioned, the cost can rise to a couple thousand kilos.

In addition to its intricacy, the time spent on a sautoir can depend on the sizing of its pearls.

“Sometimes the pearl gap, and the pearl alone, is so very small even my thinnest needle won’t go by way of,” Ms. Terjeki claimed.

Her resolution: Split the nylon thread into its element strands and, getting the slimmest, harden it with a minuscule dab of robust glue and slide it by way of the pearls like a needle. That is why she is nearsighted, she claimed. “I really don’t want eyeglasses for do the job, but I do want eyeglasses for driving, looking at a movie, simply because I stare at anything so shut all day lengthy.”

Time limits and the price of a piece can include to the sometime large-stress mother nature of her position, explained Ms. Terjeki, who was as soon as required to finish a five-row organic pearl necklace worth over £1 million in only two hours whilst seated beside a bodyguard in the SSEF pearl lab in Zurich.

“With a 17th-century necklace, I can’t just go and get a different just one,” she reported.

But this presents the position its charm.

“I like difficulties,” mentioned Ms. Terjeki, whose maxim is “nothing is impossible” and who has no strategies to retire.

These days, pearl stringing is her passion, she said. “I never know if I could dwell without the need of it.”