bead jewelry

Making a Vintage Beaded Necklace

Making a vintage beaded necklace isn't as strange as it first may sound.  Vintage kind of means "old", and how can you make something old?

By making a necklace from vintage beads and findings, of course!  And you don't need to pay an arm and a leg for them either, if you know where to find them.

purple-pink-white-beaded-necklaceI made this particular vintage beaded necklace with beads taken from various necklaces from the 60's and 70's.  It's all done in shades of pink, purple, magenta and white.  Some of the beads are shiney, some are matte.   The clasp is also vintage, and it's adjustable.

Finding the Supplies

Ah, finding the vintage bead supplies is actually much easier than you think.  I haunt the vintage jewelry section on ebay and look for necklaces from the 50s, 60s and 70s.  I'm checking for necklaces made with pretty beads and unusual clasps.  Yes, I take it all apart and reuse!

I have found some gorgeous crystal necklaces with wonderful 2 and 3 strand clasps.  And while the crystals are probably not Swarovski, they do glimmer and shine.  And I have found them in some very unusual shapes as well.

I've had my share of disappointments as well.  A necklace that I thought was going to be a real beauty turned out to be pretty sad. 

vintage-beaded-necklaceBut on the other hand, I've always been able to salvage something.  And I have had some that I thought were just nice turn out to be knockouts!

And I rarely pay more than $3 for a double-strand necklace, from which I get beads and a clasp and sometimes earrings to boot!

Keep in mind that vintage also tends to mean plated, when it comes to clasps and spacers.  Still, some of the plating includes a rhodium finish which still glows bright.

In this particular necklace, I chose to use some gold plated findings, most of which were harvested from other necklaces.

Hunt Down Those Vintage Beads for Your Own Necklace!

Check out yard sales and for that matter - your own jewelry box (who knows what's lurking in its depths)!

I get 95% of my vintage beads and findings from ebay, so I'll leave you with some goodies to ponder. 

Vintage 18 Piece Necklace Lot Pink Pearl Bead Graduated Multi Strand PRETTY YY9
Vintage 18 Piece Necklace Lot Pink Pearl Bead Graduated Multi Strand PRETTY YY9
$68.00
Time Remaining: 13d 4h 30m
Buy It Now for only: $68.00
10 Vintage  Modern Shell Bead Costume Jewelry Necklaces Lot 957
10 Vintage Modern Shell Bead Costume Jewelry Necklaces Lot 957
$7.95
Time Remaining: 12d 7h 31m
Buy It Now for only: $7.95
Vintage mix pearl black bead jewelry lot 7148 Trifari
Vintage mix pearl black bead jewelry lot 7148 Trifari
$2.00
Time Remaining: 14d 13h 35m
Buy It Now for only: $2.00
Indian Native American Beaded Bead Necklaces Bracelets Lot People Vintage
Indian Native American Beaded Bead Necklaces Bracelets Lot People Vintage
$19.99
Time Remaining: 27d 23h 2m
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Vintage LUCITE BUBBLE BEAD NECKLACE LOT Choker  Long Clear Blue Disc Jewelry
Vintage LUCITE BUBBLE BEAD NECKLACE LOT Choker Long Clear Blue Disc Jewelry
$12.95
Time Remaining: 18d 4h 4m
Buy It Now for only: $12.95

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Do You Have a Blessings Bracelet?

My friend Jennie mentioned the concept of a "blessings bracelet" to me a few months ago.  It's a bracelet that, whenever you look at it, it reminds you of your blessings.

I know, in today's world it's hard to come up with anything to consider a blessing -- sometimes it all seems so bleak.  But a blessings bracelet serves to remind us that life can be good, if we'd take the time to remember the little things.

Jennie's Blessings BraceletCount 'Em Up

I thought that a bracelet would be a good idea, so I started on something simple that I could wear every day.  I got about half-way through and then realized that if it was too simple, I wouldn't notice it.  And if I didn't notice it...how would I remember to count my blessings?

So, back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, Jennie was working away at hers.  Periodically she'd ask how mine was going and tell me the status of hers.

Then there was the day the photos came.  Wow!  (FYI - you can click on the photos to see a larger image.)

Jennie's Blessings Bracelet CloseupIn case you haven't followed along, Jennie and I live at opposite ends of the country, so photos are all we have to go by.  And when she sent me the photos of hers I felt so bad that I hadn't worked on mine.

So here are the photos of Jennie's bracelet, and I will be hard-pressed to come up with something even half as nice.  I'm staring at my pile of lampwork and Swarovski (in purples and greens -- how's that for a color combo) and trying to think of what I can do.

Hmmm, the sterling beads have gone into hiding somewhere in this room, but I did find some toggle clasps.  And yes, I have beading wire...oh no!  I just realized that wherever my sterling beads are, that's where all my crimps are.

Yes, this is going to get interesting.

Well, off to locate the silver beads and wayward crimps.  Once I have them all together, I'll take a photo of all the "fixings" so you can see the supplies before...and the finished bracelet after.

In the meanwhile, I'll leave you with some ebay eye candy to peruse - enjoy!

CHAKRA LAVA STONE HEALING BRACELET USA SELLER
CHAKRA LAVA STONE HEALING BRACELET USA SELLER
$4.75
Time Remaining: 29d 23h 22m
Buy It Now for only: $4.75
Pet Memory Stretch Bracelet Paw Heart  Gemstone Rainbow Bridge Bracelet
Pet Memory Stretch Bracelet Paw Heart Gemstone Rainbow Bridge Bracelet
$15.00
Time Remaining: 8d 6h 16m
Buy It Now for only: $15.00
Leather Bracelet Mens Surfer Black Cord Multi Wrap Cuff Surf Eco Handmade Sol 6
Leather Bracelet Mens Surfer Black Cord Multi Wrap Cuff Surf Eco Handmade Sol 6
$17.50
Time Remaining: 29d 23h 43m
Buy It Now for only: $17.50
One Random Pattern my choice Spoon Bracelet You Choose Size Clasp Quantity
One Random Pattern my choice Spoon Bracelet You Choose Size Clasp Quantity
$15.00
Time Remaining: 22d 21m
Buy It Now for only: $15.00
Leather Bracelet Mens Surfer Black Cord Multi Wrap Cuff Surf Eco Handmade Sol 6
Leather Bracelet Mens Surfer Black Cord Multi Wrap Cuff Surf Eco Handmade Sol 6
$20.50
Time Remaining: 29d 23h 45m
Buy It Now for only: $20.50

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Bead Jewelry and Choosing Your Supplies

Bead jewelry - is it in your blood? If you're reading this blog, you probably love beads, in one form or another. Maybe you like making them, from glass or polymer or silver clay. Maybe you like making bead jewelry -- lampwork, seed beads, Swarovski, gemstones -- it's all fair game. Or perhaps you just love wearing one-of-a-kind original artwork?

Whatever your love of beads, there exists (somewhere) beads for you. And although I'll go into it in greater detail in a different post, there also exists the best beads for you project. But in a nutshell; you don't want to use expensive artisan-made lampwork and loads of Swarovski crystals for a bracelet for a young child; inexpensive lampwork and generic crystal glass work just fine.

Conversely, you don't want to use cheap lampwork and generic crystal in what I term "grown up jewelry". Nope, now is when you want to select the most wonderful lampwork, the real Swarovski and maybe some sterling silver and/or gemstone beads. (In a separate post I'll talk more about how to determine the quality of lampwork beads).

Lampwork Bead Necklace  (Click to Enlarge)

Lampwork Bead Necklace (Click to Enlarge)

What I'm really trying to say is make sure the quality of the beads and supplies match the intended purpose. Yes, one time I tried making a beautiful Swarovski bracelet and necklace for my young niece. It didn't last long before she grew out of the bracelet and lost the necklace. Now, I'm waiting til she gets a little older before I try that again!

I've also made inexpensive "fun" bracelets for some craft shows I attend, just so the little ones clutching tight to a dollar or two can proudly buy something. But I wouldn't use the beads from those bracelets for anything even moderately upscale. Once again; use the supplies appropriate for the intended purpose.

OK, I've gone on enough for one post! I'll close with another photo from Jennie. Once again, these are some of my very early beads (mid-2005 I'm guessing), but I think Jennie did a nice job with them.  I'm especially fond of the tassels hanging down from the focal; I just like some movement in my jewelry.  Thanks, Jennie, for sending me this photo to post -- I appreciate it!