Pearl Jewelry Roll

December 2012

Over the years, I have been the recipient of pearl jewelry. Some from my Mom when she died, some from my aunts when they died and some from Mr. Pirate (he and I are still alive :-) ). There were necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They were all very pretty. I liked them all and wore them. It didn't much matter to me that some were fake and some were real. In fact, I rather suppose that I mixed and matched them because I never paid attention to the difference between the genuine and the ersatz.

Then, a couple of years ago, it occurred to me that when my own daughters inherit the pearls, it might be valuable for them to know specifically, which were real and which were fake. So, I brought the entire jumble of pearls to a local jewelers and asked if they would identify them for me and, if possible, give me a ball-park estimate of their worth. I had absolutely no idea what I really owned.

When I returned and picked up my pearls, they had neatly separated the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Most of the jewelry was fake, which neither surprised nor disappointed me. They were still pretty and I still liked them. Upon closer inspection, even *I* could see that one of the bracelets was obviously fake, since the "pearl" coating was flaking off. :-)

But, there were three pieces that were real pearls: two necklaces and a pair of pierced earrings. My notes say that as of the date I brought them in, the necklaces were worth quite a bit of money, although I don't remember, nor did I write down, if that was for both necklaces or each one individually. ::shrug::

Once home, I found two hard-shell jewelry cases; I put the real pearls in one and the fake pearls in the other. I put a note in each case explaining the contents. Since I sure couldn't tell the difference between the real and the fake, I wanted to be careful and keep them explicitly separated! I was paranoid that I'd mix them up again!

The hard-shell jewelry cases worked for a long time but last night ... the last night of 2012, in fact ... I got a bee in my bonnet and decided that I'd make a jewelry roll to hold each set of pearls. I did a Google/Image search to see what already existed.

I found two jewelry rolls with zippered compartments, plastic needlepoint canvas inserts for earrings and a ring holder. They served as my inspiration for the jewelery rolls that I wanted.

I didn't need the plastic needlepoint canvas for the earrings; a pocket in one of the zippered compartments would suffice. I don't have any rings, so I don't need a ring holder. I did like the zippered compartments, but each of the rolls that I saw used vinyl for the pocket itself. That was convenient because it was transparent, which enabled you to see what was inside, but I didn't like the idea of vinyl against the pearls. Also, I was concerned that the sewing line on the vinyl would create a very nice perforated line on which the vinyl would eventually separate. Instead, I used two layers of white bridal tulle. (From a past, forgotten project, I had a roll of 9" wide bridal tulle on hand.)

I quickly sketched out a diagram and made a roll for the fake pearls. This would be a practice roll before I made the one for the real pearls. I had wanted one zippered compartment for each bracelet and necklace and a pocket compartment for the earrings. Unfortunately, I mis-measured and came up one compartment short! Ah well .. such is life.

One aspect of the inspiration jewelry rolls that I really didn't care for was the closure. Each one had ribbons stitched to the outside, which you rolled around the exterior and then tied. Ribbons and bows and dangly bits, while looking pretty, aren't too practical. They will become caught on other items and also become untied. I didn't want this. A button-and-loop closure could have also been used, but that wouldn't hold down the corners of the jewelry roll and over time, I was concerned that the corners would have a tendency to curl away from the roll.

Instead, I figured that a separating zipper would be much more practical and secure. The only tricky part was determining WHERE on the outside of the jewelry roll the "other" side of the zipper needed to be! That measurement was finalized by simply rolling the completed jewelry roll up and marking where the zipper tape needed to be. :-) And then I hand-stitched it place (since machine stitching would compromise the zippered compartments on the inside).

Since this was the practice roll, I wasn't being too picky about the fabrics I used .. they were just sufficiently-sized scraps that I had on hand. Same with the zippers and the binding. I wanted something soft for the pearls to be resting on, so I used batting. I wasn't even attempting to coordinate colors, as you can see. :-)

To make absolutely, positively, 100% sure that the pearls contained inside were properly identified, I used my embroidery machine to create an embroidred label "Fake Pearls (have a charm)". Now, the "have a charm" isn't a commentary on the relative value of fake pearls, it's a reminder that my fake pearls have a charm dangling from them.

You see, I realized that, if by some chance, I happened to comingle the fake and real pearls, I'd have an extremely difficult, if not impossible, task of identifying them from each other. I bought some dangly charms with which to identify the FAKE pearls. The charm was FAKE, ergo the pearls were FAKE. :-)

I was relatively satisfied with the outcome. This was very much a by-guess-by-golly sort of project, although not especially pleasing to look at.

I was now ready to make a jewelry roll for the REAL pearls. :-) Since I had fewer pieces of real pearls, I needed fewer compartments: two compartments for necklaces and one pocket compartment for the earrings. By the time I had finished the fake jewelry roll, I realized that instead of having just batting for the pearls to lay on, I should have used *FLANNEL*. Duh. What a doofus I am!

So, for this jewelry roll, I used a lovely mottled purple flannel on the inside, batting scraps pieced together for padding and a wide wale corduroy for the outer fabric.

Instead of embroidering a ribbon for the label, I decided to embroider directly onto the roll. Unfortunately, I didn't place it precisely right and it was stitched slightly lower on the exterior of the roll than I really wanted. AND the thread color doesn't show up very strongly against the corduroy. ::shrug:: Ah well, such is life. :-)

I'm very pleased with the final product for the real pearls. Neat, tidy, compact ... identifying the real and the fake pearls ... not too shabby for a spur of the moment, seat of the pants project! :-)