Vintage Costume Jewelry: Upcycled & Repurposed
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!
Or redesign them into something entirely new…
How about some home decor?
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.
What do you think?
Love, Laura
My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at
article ©Laura Beth Love 2012
Thanks for putting all these ideas together. I absolutely love them, esp the bouquets, framed art, and upcycled jewelry pieces – heck, I love them all :0) Definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve seen a lot of new necklaces in stores that are inspired by this trend of upcycling old brooches and earrings. They have the look, but are not vintage. Interesting how the trend of upcycling is inspiring new jewelry designers today.
I’ve just started a collection of vintage jewelry pieces and have some odds and ends. Am debating whether to ultimately sell them to other artists or creating something new with them. Decisions. Decisions.
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