Help Restringing 'Opal' Necklace.

Q: A friend gave me an 'Opal' Rondelle necklace to restring. It is currently on 'Tiger Tail', and looks awful. It is stiff and requires leaving a visible tail to lie correctly. He told me it could not be strung on silk, as this would cut the opals! Does anyone have any advice on a stringing material I could use so it would do these beautiful rondelles justice, and yet not damage the stones? I will finish with gold crimps and french wire.

A: If 'Tiger Tail' didn't damage the stones, I can't imagine silk would, but we have some knotters here whom I'm sure will chime in. The other option is to use 'Soft-Flex' or even the new 'Soft-Touch'. They are of the same basic composition as 'Tigertail', but with much more flexibility. Also, the 'SoftTouch' comes in a very small size - .010 I think. The 'Softflex' people have a website, and maybe vendors carry it. 'Opal' is indeed a very soft stone, but I would actually be more worried about broken 'Tiger Tail' damaging the 'Opals' than silk!! You might consider stringing it on 'Soft-Flex', which will drape much more nicely than 'Tiger Tail' anyway, and isn't so apt to kink and break. I'd probably opt for 0.14 diameter 'Soft-Flex'. I agree, although I've never heard of 'Opals' being damaged by silk thread. Here is the 'Soft-Flex' address if you don't have another source: Tiger-Tail will abrade soft stones a lot worse than silk will, particularly if the silk is knotted to reduce motion of the beads. Remember that 'Tiger Tail' is metal cable, and is both stiffer and harder than thread. Pearls are much softer than 'Opal', and silk is the material usually suggested for pearls. Silk should be okay, assuming the necklace is light enough not to strain the silk thread (heavier necklaces aren't generally suitable for silk because it tends to break under the weight). This depends basically on how big the rondelles are. If you knot between the beads, the knots will separate the rondelles, allowing the necklace to lie in a nicer curve than if they were right next to each other. If you think the necklace is too heavy for silk, and if the holes are large enough to take two strands, consider stringing it on 'Soft-Flex' and silk. Put both strands through each bead, and knot the silk around the 'Soft-Flex'. This gives you the look and security of knotted silk, but with a stronger stringing material to reduce the chance of breakage.