Monday, November 9, 2009

More ways to remake vintage jewelry

Part of my giant lot of jewelry included some post earrings in the shape of square frames decorated with stylized leaves and birds. The earrings had bezels inside the frame and were finished with antiqued silver plating.

I had planned to rework these earrings into dangles with pretty cabashons set in the bezels. However, even though I have a pretty good selection of cabs in different shapes and sizes, I didn't have a single one that fit the existing bezels. So I cut the bezels off and started filing those spots smooth.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that these earrings were not plated brass, but plated copper! As I said in my earlier post, most of these components are at least 20-30 years old, and these clearly date from the time before copper became so expensive. When these earrings were made, copper was as cheap as brass, and was often used as an inexpensive base for jewelry. Also, copper was not popular as a focal metal in itself like it is now.

So I carefully removed the plating from the earrings, leaving small amounts in the incised details, and the results are beautiful! After removing the bezels and the plating, I drilled holes to hang pinecone charms, wrapped the original earring posts into loops, and hung these from elongated copper ear wires.

The final product is a completely new design, with only a passing resemblence to the original earrings.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reworking Vintage Jewelry

I can't believe that it has been five months since I last posted on this blog! I shall try to do better in the future. :o)

I recently purchased two large lots of vintage jewelry components, totaling 48 pounds of components in all. These components are "new old stock" from the people who manufacture these pieces for costume jewelry designers. It's clear that these pieces have sat in a storeroom somewhere for the last 20-30 years. The first lot that I purchased was made up of several large batches of the same type of item, and I spent about four hours sorting those into useable categories.

The second lot was composed of four bags of mixed components: raw brass, plated brass, copper, chains, finished and partially finished pieces, all jumbled together with no rhyme or reason. This lot took about 10 hours to sort and categorize! (It's also the most fun and interesting.)

I sell my own handmade jewelry on Etsy, and so I have been remaking the finished pieces to reflect my own designs. I thought that others might be interested in seeing how old jewelry can be used to create brand new designs.

The first piece I'll write about is my Romantic Charm Necklace:

Above is a picture of the original components, followed by two pictures of the finished piece.

As you can see, I removed the star charm from the art deco style hanger and used the hanger for the top piece. To that I added an earring base with an oval bezel and bottom ring. I removed the cameo caboshon from a post earring and reset it in the bezel, then wrapped the earring hook to create the top loop which connects this piece to the main hanger. Finally, I scavenged charms and a teardrop pearl from other pieces to hang from the charm ring.

Of course, I still had to add the chain, clasp, extender chain and back charm to finish the necklace.

Isn't that a fun way to design jewelry? I can't wait to play with my new components more. Too bad I have a day job to go to tomorrow.