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22 Cunningly Creative Ways to Use Old Jewellery

22 Cunningly Creative Ways to Use Old Jewellery

Do you wonder what to do with old jewellery, hidden away forgotten at the back of your jewellery box? 

Over time gifted pieces, vintage hand-me-downs and special keepsakes can pile up, and it seems such a shame that these treasures never see the light of day.

But what to do with the jewellery you no longer wear?

I have some simple solutions to your dilemma - read on for some creative ways to use old vintage and costume jewellery. De-stash, re-purpose and recycle those un-used baubles.

Upcycling Broken Jewellery

This is a challenge I cherish as it calls on my most creative ideas. Folk are often blown away by the results. I love to hear "Well, I NEVER would have thought of THAT".

Recently a young woman called, requesting a custom-made necklace or bracelet for her sister, about to give birth. 

Unfortunately, all the sisters in the family could not be present for the auspicious occasion. 

However, they'd pooled together some old, un-worn and broken jewellery for upcycling into a new piece to mark the event in their absence.

The beads before the transformation...

The necklace, post remodellling. 

The beads were full of character and colour so this is what I came up with.

(That was such a beautiful and thoughtful idea to be part of thanks Gypsy!).

Re-model Vintage Charms from a Bracelet into a Choker

Remodelling Unwanted Vintage Jewellery

Old, unwanted charm bracelets can be made into more wearable, choker length necklaces. In essence, a charm can become a single pendant or can incorporate the lot. 

Bring new life to a string of pearls with the addition of a few inexpensive, gold plated charms on jump rings. Alternatively, wrap a necklace around the wrist for a layered bracelet.

If vintage is your thing, check out the work of Diana Frey for inspiration - she is an absolute MASTER of original, upcycled vintage-inspired jewellery. 

Image credit forbes.com on Pinterest

Reconstituting Precious Metals

Unwanted old gold and silver jewellery can be melted down by a goldsmith. In New Zealand, I suggest jewelbeetle.co.nz. Precious stones are removed first and can be reset into a modern setting, sized to suit.

Craft Ideas for Totally Knackered Jewellery

Some jewellery is just beyond salvage. What can you do with nannary vintage brooches missing crucial stones or broken metal alloy components (that can't be soldered or reconstituted)? Or just random stuff?

Here are some of my favourite up-cycling ideas...

  • Up-cycle old watches with miniature vintage photos, in sepia tone or black and white

  • Cover an old shoe with vintage brooches or mosaic a broken pot. Even vintage purses can look great with the addition of some sparkly beads

  • Lift a dried floral wreath to new heights with a sparkly old necklace or single chandelier earrings missing their mate

What to do with old beads?

Incorporating jewels into sparklingly eclectic chandeliers that capture your unique personality.

Credit scraption.com on Pinterest

What to do with old Brooches?

Bauble-encrust a mannequin torsos to brighten up your boudoir. 

Credit Penelope Pitstop on Pinterest

Gifts to make with old jewellery.

Bejewel ribbon bookmarks - excellent gifts in their own right.

Credit veguci.com on Pinterest

  • If bohemian gypsy is your vibe, make a dream-catcher with old beads, feathers, shells and bells

  • Or go totally crazy and plaster a chair with old settings - it doesn't matter if stones are missing. You may need to scout around garage sales or charity shops for more material though

What to do with Grandma's Old Jewellery?

  • Clip-on earrings are a nightmare to wear for most of us. Usually, a jeweller can convert them to dangling, chandelier styles or to a stud arrangement. This is the perfect time to upgrade to a new, hypo-allergenic hook or stud. Drop them in to me at the studio and I'll upgrade them in a jiffy.

  • Is it a conspiracy or were people smaller in bygone days? Necklaces can easily be made larger with the addition of an extension chain  

  • If the style or fit doesn't suit your face shape, can you pass it on to a daughter or niece that will appreciate it? 

  • Where can you donate jewellery? Even if broken, a charity shop will gladly take it off your hands, or donate to a school gala or fundraiser

  • Gold or sterling silver rings that don't fit can easily be resized by a jeweller

Declutter your stash using the tips above and more you can find over on my Pinterest board Creative Uses for Vintage Jewellery. 

Jewellery De-stash Chart

I love Marie Kondo's philosophy - If it no longer brings you joy, thank it and pass it on. Follow her on Instagram if you're a fan.

Follow my handy visual guide below to help make those tough decisions and down-size your current collection.

Handy De-stash Chart for What to do with Old Jewellery

Follow these steps through logically and your collection will be pared back to the essentials and pieces of jewellery that you love. Hopefully you'll have some fun creatively re-homing and up-cycling the left overs.

Aim for a cohesive collection of thoughtfully wearable accessories. Remember - Your trash is someone else's treasure.

For further ideas to enhance your jewellery style, visit the Personal Jewellery Style Guide on the website, with customised tips and accessory suggestions, just for you.



Visit your Jewellery Style Assistant for personalised styling tips


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