Vintage Jewelry Inspiration: Design Sketches and Ideas

Nov 10, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

In the fall issue of Stringing, the editors (Melinda Barta, Danielle Fox, and Elizabeth Murray) all went shopping at flea vintage inspirationmarkets, antique stores, and thrift stores and with some advice from jewelry designer Mysti Gulsrud, they each created a necklace or bracelet that mixed modern components and antique finds.  

The idea of mixing vintage and modern jewelry sounded like fun (and their finished designs are gorgeous!), but I'll admit I was a little bit skeptical about the whole thing.  Was it really that easy? 

To find out, I asked the Stringing editors to join me in a design challenge featuring three of Danielle's "leftover" vintage pieces not used in the magazine.  The rules were very simple--choose one of the three pieces pictured (a butterfly clip-on earring, a flower brooch, or a pocket watch) and sketch one idea. 

My Design Idea

I chose the small pocket watch to use as a necklace pendant.  I used a large copper jump ring to attach the watch to a necklace of filigree brass beads, brown crystals, and steel blue faceted glass rondelles.  At the other end of the watch, I used a brass jump ring to attach several brass, gold, and silver keys from my stash.  Because the watch was a lighter color than the other metals in the necklace, I darkened the watch with liver of sulpher.

Elizabeth Murray, Assistant Editor

Elizabeth also selected the watch, but she created a bracelet instead of a necklace.  She cleverly used the monogrammed back of the watch as her centerpiece.  Then she added 3-loop antique brass flower connectors, antique brass or gold chain, and a matching toggle clasp.

Melinda Barta, Managing Editor

Melinda used the butterfly earring for her design.  She trimmed the clip-on earring finding from the back of the butterfly and attached a gold-filled jump ring to one of the openwork wings, turning it into a charm. Then she hung the butterfly from a hammered brass ring, along with one antique brass tiny round locket charm and one 2-flower charm.  She attached a chain to the top of the ring using a lark's head knot.

Danielle Fox, Editor

Danielle chose the large flower brooch as her design inspiration.  She placed it on the right side of her necklace and added light cream rose Swarovski crystal pearls, a box clasp with a floral motif, and a mix of gold, copper, or rose gold chains. She removed the pin back with cutters, filed the rough edges, and then used beading wire and a jump ring to attach the brooch to the necklace.

For more design ideas and shopping tips, check out the article "Revisting the Classics:  How to Use Vintage Jewelry to Invigorate Modern Designs" in the fall issue of Stringing on sale now.  Jewelry designer Mysti Gulsrud shares how much you should pay for vintage pieces, where to shop, and what kinds of additional tools you might need it your jewelry toolbox.  Plus, you'll find full instructions an original necklace created by Mysti, as well as jewelry designs by editors Melinda, Danielle, and Elizabeth.  The same issue also includes two pages of different types of keys in the "Beads to Buy" section and an article titled "Creating the Perfect Patina" which tells you how to darken metals for an aged look.   

If you have vintage jewelry shopping or designing tips (success or horror stories!), I'd love to hear them.  Please share your ideas and tips on the website.

New Reader Poll:  How is the economy affecting your beading?  Are you beading more, less, or the same?  Take this quick one-question poll.  Results will be shared in a future Beading Daily.

Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.

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MarlaC@5 wrote
on Nov 10, 2008 1:44 PM
I LOVE to take Vintage Jewelry and recreate it! If you find a beautiful pair of Vintage Earrings that are clip on you can easily convert them to POST Earrings! You just need a pair of blank posts and some Goop, or any other jewelry glue that works for you. You need to carefully pry the clip on component off and glue on the blank post. Some Vintage Earrings will convert, easily, on to earwires, as well! OR, take a beautiful Vintage Pin and carefully pry off the pin component and string it on Sterling Silver chain!
DarleneJ@4 wrote
on Nov 10, 2008 2:40 PM
I am a vintage jewelry, bead and componant fanatic and passionate collector! I love to incorporate vintage elements to my jewelry designs. I even take modern beads and componants and design jewelry with a vintage style or flair. I scour thrift stores, on line sources, flea markets, estate sales, bead stores and shows, and more for vintage treasures. I like converting lone vintage clip earrings into fabulous decorative clasps and broken broochs into focal elements in necklaces and bracelets. Vintage jewelry is not only beautiful, it carries the spirit and history of a bygone era not to mention providing a great way to recycle that beauty and elegance in a new increadible work of art!
SoozH wrote
on Nov 10, 2008 8:19 PM
I've been doing this FOREVER. I hate to be cranky, but's kind of a grind when everyone starts doing THE thing that set you apart from the herd. Then Beading Daily and every bead magazine on earth starts touting it as the Biggest Trend of the new century!! Oh MAN. I do applaud the re-use of so-called "junk" jewelry, instead of throwing it away. WOW, do I!! So I have to say I'm 60-40 about the issue. I'm just being selfish. Guess I better come up with something else to set myself apart from the huge crowd now.....
dandi281 wrote
on Nov 11, 2008 11:37 AM
HELP!! HELP!! HELP!! In the "STEP BY STEP beads" magazine Nov-Dec .2008 issue there is a project on page 48 for the"Four Corners" bracelet. I cannot seem to be able to locate the beads. I went on the web site for the Veni Vidi Beadi and got their phone number but when I called it it has been disconnected. Please tell me where I can locate these beads. Thank You very much for your time and help and GREAT projects. Look forward to hearing from you. Anxious to make the bracelet. Maggie C.
ErinP@13 wrote
on Nov 11, 2008 12:14 PM
I started with vintage clothing and accessories in college (many years ago) and used them in artwork, but when I began beading a few years ago, I started using anything I could in vintage. I have come in contact with beautiful pink coral rondelles, beautiful brooches that I soder a jump ring on and I LOVE VINTAGE BUTTONS. Some I set a design in polymer clay then I use PMC to recreate the image in silver, so cool! Polymer clay is awesome for casting a cool design from a vintage button, and it helps gets rid of scraps. I live in an area that is drenched with antique stores and flea markets (PA) so I am lucky. Keep on making old new again :) Erin P.
DarleneJ@4 wrote
on Nov 11, 2008 4:34 PM
I read SoozH comments, I think quite a few people have been recycling vintage jewelry for a while, I know I have to one extent or another for at least 20 years! As with anything even if it becomes popular, there are still ways to use the materials and come up with a totally unique designs that still look fresh and stand out from the proverbial "herd". I think it's just that more people appreciate the beauty and workmanship of many of the vinatage peices and want that beauty to live on. I think it's great that we all take ownership of our ideas and creativity but when things become more mainstream and popular it spurs all of us to develop and evolve and challenges our creative spirit!
JohanneB@4 wrote
on Nov 21, 2008 10:27 PM
I also tried to contact Veni Vidi Beadi, but to no avail. I sent 3 emails, and have yet to get a response from them. If you know how I can get my hands on those squares, please let me know too. thanks
kaltawy wrote
on Nov 28, 2010 1:34 PM

Nice sketches, i really like the vintage and gothic style in jewelry, but when buying <a href="">Gold chains</a> i usually buy from Dream Land Jewelry because they have a wonderful collection with reasonable prices.