vintage 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. 

Time Remaining: 13h 34m
VintageMIXED Pendant LOTFlower CameoBLACK Onyx PINBird CLAW Black BEAD3
VintageMIXED Pendant LOTFlower CameoBLACK Onyx PINBird CLAW Black BEAD3
Time Remaining: 11h 37m
25 Pounds LBS Bead Vintage Jewelry Supply Estate Lot craft sparkle glass stone
25 Pounds LBS Bead Vintage Jewelry Supply Estate Lot craft sparkle glass stone
Time Remaining: 5h 57m
6 Vintage Glass Bead Necklace Lot Blue Green Amber Clear Faceted Molded Art Deco
6 Vintage Glass Bead Necklace Lot Blue Green Amber Clear Faceted Molded Art Deco
$24.00 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 14h 5m
Vintage Stretch Bracelets Lot Of 8 Some Bead Some Chunky Costume Lot
Vintage Stretch Bracelets Lot Of 8 Some Bead Some Chunky Costume Lot
Time Remaining: 13h 34m

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Flea Markets, Beads and Jewelry

For the first time in awhile I went on a flea market search for beads, beaded jewelry and vintage signed costume jewelry.  What fun I had, looking through the piles!  But my eyes hurt from squinting to see the signatures on the jewelry (even with a loupe it was difficult at times).

My mission today was simple; I was on a hunt to find vintage costume jewelry with one of the three "R's" -- re-sellable, re-usable or restorable.  And yes, I found nice examples of all three.

I took my husband David with me, and he was a big help, in pawing through the jewelry looking for signatures.  In fact, he found two pieces that I immediately snatched up!  And he suggested that we go to a much bigger flea market tomorrow to see what we can find.  So we'll go early and probably stay all day (it's a very, very large flea market).

Were They All Treasures?

Well, I did make a few mistakes, about $2 worth.  Don't ask me why I picked up 3 Christmas pins that I didn't mean to buy...but I bought anyway, by accident.  They are pretty, for sure, but I realized that one tree had a branch broken off.  Another was a necklace that I thought had a particular designer's signature, but I didn't check with my loupe.  Oops, once I got home, the signature wasn't what I thought.  But at 50 cents each, my mistakes didn't cost too much.

Like Vintage "Redux"?

Jennie sent me an email this morning about a book by Kalmbach publishing (you know, the Bead & Button people) about taking vintage pieces and remaking them into new pieces.  Naturally, I checked on Amazon and they have it (for a much better price).  If you think this is a cool idea, check out Vintage Redux: Remake Classic and Collectible Jewelry for some ideas and inspiration.  So, if this sounds interesting to you, why not pick up a copy (I have one in my Amazon shopping cart right now).

Well, I'm going to go for now and go play with today's finds.  So I'll leave you with some [nmslink:vintage bead lot, ideas for redux supplies] (if you don't have any good flea markets nearby).

[nms:vintage bead lot,7,1,9]

Beaded Jewelry: Something Old, Something New

One thing about beaded jewelry fascinates me, and that is what's new is also what's old.  I guess it's the same for fashion in general, but beaded work certainly.

I've mentioned that I've been haunting the vintage costume jewelry auctions on ebay, looking for both vintage jewelry and for inspiration.  I'm amazed at home some seed bead jewelry from the 40's and 50's looks like some of the lovely work I see today.

Seed bead jewelry often gets a bad rap; somehow it's seen as inferior.  Maybe because the beads are so tiny? Let me tell you, it certainly hasn't been that way in the past!  I've seen loads of gorgeous vintage jewelry that have seed beads are a good portion of their make up.

I also have gotten a chuckle out of larger beads in general.  There are oceans of pretty beaded "strung" jewelry from the 50s, 60s and 70s.  Nothing fancy, just pretty beads, albeit usually in double or triple strand necklaces.

And I somehow got the impression that memory wire bracelets were a recent invention.  Nope, I've seen flocks of wrap bracelets go by in the auctions.  Not to mention some of the costume jewelry books.

Beaded Necklace With Pendant (Un-named as yet)

Beaded Necklace With Pendant (Click to Enlarge)

Yep, what goes around, comes around.  Any way you look at it, beaded jewelry in one form or another is here to stay!

Something New, Inspired By Something Old

I finally finished the pendant/necklace that I started during the previous post.  The project took on a life of its own, and grew from a pin to a pendant to a full triple-strand necklace with pendant.  It was at one point (if you can believe it) even more elaborate, but then I decided to back off on some of the extras.

I'm wearing it now, to check the comfort level, which I find useful before trying to make other similar projects.

Because it's a test piece, I didn't go all out with supplies.  While the turquoise and Swarovski are real, a lot of the rest are "fakes".  I do have some sterling silver beads in this piece, but some of the silver is suspect (might be sterling or it might not -- hadn't labeled them well enough).

But I did find this project to be fun.  I find that I enjoy a more vintage look, and it's fun to try and re-create it using beads.

Speaking of beads, here are some lampwork offerings now showing on ebay (no, none are mine...these are just pretties).  (You can also see a [nmslink:lampwork beads sra blue,more complete listing here].

Handmade Lampwork Focal Bead Marengo By Soul Of Glass OOAK SRA
Handmade Lampwork Focal Bead Marengo By Soul Of Glass OOAK SRA
Time Remaining: 13h 23m
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Time Remaining: 3d 5h 44m
Buy It Now for only: $9.99
Handmade Lampwork Focal Bead Parral By Soul Of Glass OOAK SRA
Handmade Lampwork Focal Bead Parral By Soul Of Glass OOAK SRA
Time Remaining: 13h 32m
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
VICS GLASS STREAMERS handmade lampwork focal bead SRA
VICS GLASS STREAMERS handmade lampwork focal bead SRA
$8.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 5h 4m
Grace Lampwork Beads SRA 11839102 Iris and Critter Lentil Focal Bead
Grace Lampwork Beads SRA 11839102 Iris and Critter Lentil Focal Bead
Time Remaining: 11h 47m

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Beading and Vintage Jewelry Story

If you're a beader (or just otherwise love beads), vintage beads can be a big lure. I'm not just talking about dZi beads, old African trade beads or anything; I'm talking about beads from a bygone era that have history or a story behind them.

But here's a story of a vintage beading experience gone wrong! Yes, it happened to me, and hopefully it hasn't happened to you.

The Lure of the Flea Market

I'm a sucker for flea markets, when the weather gets cooler.  While most flea market these days seem more like malls, there are usually a few booths with regular people selling off some unused things.  These are the tables I gravitate towards.

One market I stumbled across while on a vacation had a table of beaded necklaces.  I figured I may as well look, and if the price was right, I could take apart the necklace for the beads.

Nothing I saw appealed to me until I saw a triple-strand crystal aurora borealis necklace.  All three strands were graduated, and the beads ranged from 4mm to 12mm.  Even in the dim light of the tent they sparkled!  The necklace also came with the original display case and a pair of matching earrings.

After a little haggling, I walked off with my treasures.  And when I got home, proceeded to dismantle the necklace for the beads.  Don't know if they were Swarovski, but they certainly rivaled them in sparkle and fire.

What Were They?

Now that I've been cruising ebay for vintage costume jewelry, I feel heartsick.  The story behind the beads is that they belonged to the seller's mother, and she had gotten them in the 50's.  So I've been trying to find what they might have been.

I've seen several close examples which might be the same maker as mine, selling for some quite nice prices.  Certainly more than what I paid for mine.  Unfortunately, I don't even have the presentation box anymore, which might have given me a clue as to the designer...and would also add to the price!

So now I'm a little more careful.  I've seen collections of what they call "repair jewelry" that have plenty of pretty beads.  ([nmslink:repair lot costume jewelry,Repair jewelry] is somehow damaged, like having lost beads or rhinestones, that can be used to repair other more valuable pieces.)  Those are the kinds of vintage jewelry I look for these days, both online and offline, when I'm in search of vintage beads!

Anyway, here are some costume jewelry repair lot auctions, many of which include vintage beads!

[nms:repair lot costume jewelry,7,0,5]