Saved from the trash, Created a treasure

When I was little, my Grandma had a jewelry box filled with her old costume jewelry for my cousin P and I to play with. Today, costume jewelry evoke those fond childhood memories and my Grandma’s traditional style. Costume jewelry once had a life much more interesting than the one it leads now – forgotten in a box, hanging in an antique shop, laid out on a table at an estate sale, left behind for more “timeless” pieces.

Costume Jewelry from my Grandma, in it's original state, beautiful color but broken strand

Costume Jewelry from my Grandma in it’s original state, beautiful color but broken strand

It’s easy to bypass costume jewelry. The funky shapes and colors don’t exactly blend with more free flowing, bohemian style jewelry populating the stores today. However, that doesn’t mean that these pieces don’t have potential. I like to take these broken, forgotten necklaces and earrings and give them a facelift to make them into something that can be loved once again.

Earrings as Pendant Charms

Earrings are great ways to add a statement piece to a necklace. Oftentimes earrings are eye catching and captivating, but overtime a pair may become separated or one of the earrings may break. Rather than toss these, I like to reuse them to create unique necklaces. In this case, a pair of spiral earrings taken apart were used as the pendants in two necklaces with very different styles.

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Turquoise and Goldstone paired with gold findings for a trendy necklace that carries an outfit easily from summer to fall.

Gemstones add a fiery color palate to the same charm, in an opera length necklace

Gemstones add a fiery color palate to the same charm, in this opera length necklace

The design of the necklaces are stylistically different and appeal to different wearers. My friend K loves the top necklace, whereas my mom prefers the bottom one because of the length and she can pair it with her neutral sweaters while we shop. It’s a way to build a connection through two pieces, while still maintaining unique personalities.

Elegant Drops – A Simple Update

Some necklaces have great structure already, but they’re too short. I like long, flowing jewelry that easily slides over the head when in a rush for work in the morning. These drops instantly add class to any business casual outfit, because they retain their original statement element.

Coral adds instant pop against neutrals.

Coral adds instant pop against neutrals.

Classic pearl drops add professionalism to the most basic of outfits.

Classic pearl drops add professionalism to the most basic of outfits.

The long chain not only makes these easier to wear, but it elongates the gaze and gives the illusion of a longer torso. Plus, I love the sound the multi-strand necklaces make as you move, it’s a soft clinking sound that reminds me of a classy party.

Major Reconstruction

Other necklaces are complete gut jobs. Maybe the original necklace is broken, or the colors just don’t mesh well together, or maybe some of the beads are just completely out of place in current trends. These are the necklaces that I like to cut in the middle, spill the beads on the mat, and start from scratch.

The purple beads in this necklace were taken from a necklace that featured several shades of purple beads. The chain unifies the beads and the new silver findings add pop.

The purple beads in this necklace were taken from a necklace that featured several shades of purple beads. The chain unifies the beads and the new silver findings add pop.

Sometimes I’ll mix the beads from several vintage pieces, or other times I’ll mix in the vintage beads as the focal point of the necklace. Lately, I’ve enjoyed working with wire and chain to allow the color to stand out. It also modernizes the piece by streamlining the lines and lightening the look. Much of the costume jewelry I’ve encountered is bulky, heavy, and colorful. I love color, but today’s jewelry calls for light simplicity.

These stones came from a necklace that mixed pink and green stones with these. It wasn't the prettiest combination, so here the orange beads are together for a fiery combination.

These stones came from a necklace that mixed pink and green stones with these. It wasn’t the prettiest combination, so here the orange beads are together for a fiery combination.

The major benefit is this jewelry is truly one-of-a-kind. Because much of this vintage, costume jewelry can’t be found on store shelves and the pieces are worked by hand, each one is unique. Not to mention, repurposed materials lowers our carbon footprint. Not only is it stylish, but you can feel good about what you wear too.

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