If you tried to knot pearls, you'll know how hard it is to get that knot right next to the pearl.  That's why many people use various tools to get it right.  See my past post on the best tutorial links for bead or pearl knotting using 3 different tools.

jewelry making tutorial

However it's not impossible to do it without any aid. Just needs some practice!  Watch this Pearl Paradise video of a Chinese pearl knotter working "freehand". She is able to make an overhand knot and get it right up to the pearl. Double silk strands were used.

Some may consider it easier to add a pearl one at a time rather than have to work with the full strand. But I wonder if her technique is quicker as the pearls were pre-strung and she was able to get into a good knotting rhythm without having to stop to add beads.  For a static tutorial using the one pearl at a time method, check this site.

These huge pearls are actually from the South Seas.  The buyer had gone to the Shanxiahu market in Zhuji, China right after a trip to Australia where the pearls were farmed. The knotting was done there so the valuable pearls could be worn rather than left in the hotel room.

Before You Go :
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM