Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vintage Costume Jewelry: Upcycled & Repurposed

Recycled broken jewelry

Vintage costume jewelry is one of those things that's really fun to upcycle into something new. Why? Because...well, they're pretty, and sparkly, and girlie... and if you're lucky enough to inherit some from your family, the pieces have a special meaning, since they are a connection not only to the past, but to the past of someone you love.

Enamel flower pins, rhinestone brooches, orphaned earrings with clusters of pearls - even shoe clips have new life once they're upcycled into something new. Broken jewelry? There's a reason you kept it, isn't there? Check out the photos below and see what some creative folks have done with vintage costume jewelry and maybe you'll be inspired to go on an old jewelry treasure hunt of your own!

A shadow box display of a loved ones jewelry makes a sweet memorial (Carteravenueframeshop)

Brooch bridal bouquet with locket by Amanda Jane Heer via Etsy

DIY instructions for a jewelry bouquet from Fancy Pants Weddings

A few more versions of a vintage brooch bouquets...
by Noaki jewelry via Etsy

Or redesign them into something entirely new...

Example of a jewelry tree, this one from Bree 

Check out more jewelry trees!

Camera strap made from repurposed old jewelry from ecouterre

This is a great way to make use of orphaned earrings: attach them to metal jewelry blanks with stong adhesive (E600) and string them together with jumprings and lengths of chain to create a unique necklace.

Create a necklace with vintage brooches and ribbon with these DIY instructions from Martha Stewart

Bracelet made with vintage earrings by AmoreTreasure via Etsy 

Rings made from old costume jewelry

Cute vintage jewelry belt buckle (above) and embellished purse (below) by Georgia Peachez

How about some home decor?

Manequin display from Bird Button Designs

Like the bridal bouquet idea? How about a retro brooch bouquet topiary?

Sparkling Baby Blue Crystal and Rhinestone Jeweled Picture Frame OOAK
Photo frame made with vintage costume jewelry by Kat Smith via Etsy

Vintage Sparkle Wreath
Wreath made from vintage jewelry from BHG

A framed version of a costume jewelry art Christmas tree

Swanky Fridge Magnets: Remove the pin-backs from old brooches with needle-nose pliers and replace with strong magnets 

Brooch magnets.  Time to do some antique shop hunting!:
Brooch magnets from Just A Girl Blog

Napkin rings from old costume jewelry from

Before repurposing any old jewelry:

First ask close family members – daughters, sisters, if they'd like the pieces. Even if broken, they may have huge sentimental value to them if they are pieces that may have belonged to a common grandparent or aunt.

If someone wants to still wear the jewelry they could possibly take it to a jeweler and have the pieces rebuilt into something new.

If the jewelry is a family heirloom that is very old or antique, you may want to have the piece appraised by a jeweler and an antiques expert before configuring it into a new design since doing so could cause a loss of value if it turns out that your piece is a rare or valuable antique.

Once that is done, anything with sentimental value might want to be kept within the family. This is especially true if you have sisters or children who may place sentimental value on the items.

Sometimes a piece of jewelry, though it may be an inexpensive bauble, could have loads of sentimental value because it is a memento that represents an important time and place in a persons life. For example, maybe you have no use for grammy's  Christmas tree shaped pin brooch, but your sister has vivid memories of grammy wearing it and would love nothing more than to own that piece. In this case, it's better to pass it on to someone who will treasure it as-is than to turn it into something new and or different.

Here are a few ways that you can incorporate old and even broken jewelry into your life and home while at the same time cleaning out your jewelry box:

  • Create a new piece of jewelry from some old: Fashion orphaned clip on earrings into a brooch by adding a glue-on pin back. Or turn various broken pieces into a bracelet by gluing them onto bracelet blanks that you can purchase at craft supply stores or from jewelry maker supply catalogs such as Rio Grande or Fire Mountain Gems.

  • If you have an overwhelming supply of chunky 1950's to 1960's era clip on earrings these are specially great to use in crafts. Use a strong adhesive to glue them around a photo frame or mirror frame.

  • Create a bouquet of old pins, brooches, pendants and earrings.

  • Use an adhesive to glue a strong magnet to the reverse or flat side of old jewelry pieces, turning them into refrigerator magnets.

DIY jewelry bookmarks by Intimate Weddings

Create a wreath with your old vintage pins and earrings

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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2022 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link updates or corrections leave correct info in comment area