Incorporating Sentimentality into your Jewelry

Jul 30, 2012

I've had an idea for a particular necklace since I came back from Bead Fest Santa Fe last March. I had picked up these ceramic buttons and pendant from Antelope Beads's booth with the intention of creating a sentimental piece of jewelry for myself. I chose this particular pendant because it reflects my daughter's middle name, Hope, in both English and Swahili.

In trying to discover how this piece will come together, I started thinking about other ways I've incorporated sentimental elements into my jewelry designs.

1. Resin: As a jewelry artist, the sky's the limit when working with resin. It's easy to add any type of paper or ephemera that is meaningful to you. In the samples below, I used a page from a catalog to reflect my former profession (and still obsession) as a pastry chef; a few snippets from an old dictionary are a reminder of favorite scripture. Of course, charms or other small embellishments can be added to reflect your personality or favorite things.

2. Frames: A friend made this mother-and-child pendant for me shortly after my daughter was born by simply encasing a paper image and scraps of lace in a premade memory frame (similar frames are available from Ornamentea).

3. Photos: The most obvious choice for creating personalized, sentimental jewelry for yourself or a loved one is a photo. Lockets have been used for a gazillion years as a means to carry a loved one close to one's heart. Or, a durable keepsake can be created by encasing a photo in resin.

4. Buttons/Other ephemera: When my grandmother passed away, I inherited her sewing machine, and along with it, a small jar of antique buttons. I've seen cool bib-style necklaces and charm bracelets made with buttons. And they make a great clasp for the ever-popular wrap bracelets.

I would also like to make a charm necklace of sorts using this key from an old key chain I've had for 20-plus years. It's special to me because my sister and I bought matching ones as teenagers, and I carried it on my keys for many many years.

For more ideas on incorporating sentimental elements into your jewelry, check out Candie Cooper's DVD, Remixed Media: Making Custom Beads and Pendants with Acrylic and Wood (available at I'm also a fan of Melinda Barta's book, Custom Cool Jewelry: Create 200+ Personalized Pendants, Charms, and Clasps (also at

I'd love to hear any ideas you have for incorporating sentimental scraps or memorabilia into your jewelry designs!

Until next time,



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on Feb 27, 2013 7:26 AM

I like your designs, especially the ideas for old sentimental items like a catalog and pieces of scriptures in jewelry.