How to Repurpose Old Jewelry? Please Help

by Karen Faith.
(“Inspired by Faith” and “Once Again”)

I have been making jewelry for many years and have sort of burned out on the process because I just don’t have any new ideas and methods.

A friend of mine gave me a bunch of old jewelry pieces and wondered if I could use them to make something new. I’ve come up with a few ideas, and I like the idea of “recycling” old jewelry.

But, with a lot of the pieces, the glues I’ve tried just don’t seem to work for several different reasons.

Also, I don’t know how to solder.

So I’m hoping that someone will have some suggestions on ways to put the pieces together – if there is a glue that has worked well for you, or if soldering really is the best way to go, etc.

Also, if there are any websites that might have other suggestions / innovative ways to reuse jewelry pieces, I’d love to see them.

I’ve put a couple of things together in a “steampunk” fashion, but not everything is able to be worked with in that fashion.

The pics above are only a slight portion of the kinds / types of stuff I have to work with, and any advice I can receive would be quite helpful!

Thanks,
Karen Faith
“Inspired by Faith”
and “Once Again”

Comments:

Repurpose old jewelry – some ideas
by: Rena

Hi Karen,

I’m drooling over some of the fab things you have to work with! What a great stash from your friend.

First, have you visited our Repurposed / Eco-Friendly Jewelry Gallery? You’ll find loads of ideas and great inspiration there from our creative friends.

Also see:

Updating Old Jewelry for Friends and Colleagues

Getting Cheap or Free Supplies for Making Jewelry

Designing Jewelry from Vintage Items

It looks like many of the pieces in your stash have the potential to be connected to other elements with wire, jump rings, or bits of chain. So you may want to explore what you can do with that.

Also, I can envision combining some of your pieces with wire crochet and a scattering of pearls, faceted glass, or other vintage-looking beads.

And for gluing – I’m sure you already know this, but I would gently and thoroughly clean the old jewelry component first to remove any gunk that might interfere with glue. When it’s thoroughly dry, you might want to try E-6000 glue (available at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.). I’ve used it on a variety of jewelry projects that needed glue, and have had good success with it.

I’m interested to hear about the ideas, glues, and methods of some of our other friends here!

Repurposing jewelry
by: Handmade jewelry by Peggy LI

I second Rena’s suggestion of E-6000 glue and thoroughly cleaning (and maybe even roughening, with fine sandpaper) surfaces for gluing. Solder is tough to do IMHO if you don’t know the exact metal makeup or stones. I’d also use wire and jump rings to connect components. Buckles and brooches make great focal pendant pieces for necklaces. Good luck

Thanks
by: Karen

Thanks for those wonderful comments and suggestions. Rena, I will check out those links too. I have used E-6000 (isn’t that also known as Goop?), so will give it a try again, this time making sure the pieces are cleaned or roughed up a bit with sandpaper. I will post some pics of finished pieces when I can!

repurposing jewelry
by: Susan

Hi Karen,
Looks like a nice stash! I have quite a bit of old jewelry, and continue to collect it. One thing I do is remove the small drops off earrings and pendants and use them as charms for bracelets. Have fun!
Susan

It is like a challenge!
by: Maria Hansford

Re-purpose vintage pieces is a great passion of mine and it is a lot of fun.
The first thing I do is set them on a table on a white surface like a table cloth or a large sheet of paper,
Then I eamine each piece to see what can be taken a part and be used. Let your creativity flow….I do not solder either but some crafting glue and wire wrapping can work miracles!
Have fun!
Maria

www.thetreasurechest.ca

Excellent, all the best!
by: Kate

I’ve had luck with the same glue the others mentioned, as it has the consistency of rubber cement and expands and contracts with heat and cold, etc. It has some great staying power but let it set for a good 72 hours (this is just from my experience) if you want it to really stay. I also agree with cleaning (I use a sonic cleaner unless there are pearls or porous stones) AND roughen up the surface a bit with a jeweler’s file, or even a nail file will do (or sandpaper). I’m resourceful–I think we all are!

I do solder quite a bit but if you have pieces already assembled, soldering can be tricky. You would have to disassemble them or cover existing stones or anything you don’t want to heat. Even with the most precise flame, it just gets so tricky.

If the E-6000 does not hold well as it is not for something that will have a lot of wear or pulling, I often use an inexpensive jewelers’ epoxy that I obtain at contenti.com (my go-to for a lot of really handy tools and other items). It is not expensive and sets quickly. Search “epoxy” and it should be the first one (two tubes, sets in five minutes, holds in temps up to 175 degrees). It’s only about $4.00 and well worth it. You may also see other products that will help you as I just did the search.

Good luck!

Repurposing Old Jewelry
by: ReyerWare

You are so lucky to be given such a wonderful stash. Ideas started running through my head just looking at them.

Might I suggest wire? I have started making pendants using old jewelry, buttons, beads in combination using wire. Putting them together there is no right or wrong way. It is all free form and fun.

If you have any questions, just e-mail me at reyerware@reyerware.com

Thanks
by: Karen Faith

More good suggestions, thanks everyone! I purchased some E6000 and will plan to see what I can do. I’ll post some pics when I can!

Repurposing Old Jewelry
by: Donna

As you probably know by now, E6000 is not Goop. I have both and I still like E6000 better except for use on fused glass pendants. I do a lot of collage pins and pendants. Belle Armoire Jewelry Vol 2 magazine (you can still order it) fromStampington and Company has been a great help to me. I already had some of the ideas in the mag. but it told easier ways to set out your collage pins and make them in bulk! Wire wrapping some large pieces for pendants is also fun!

More thanks!
by: Karen Faith

The wire wrapping sounds interesting – I’ve tried it on other projects but haven’t been too successful. I should give it another shot, though. And thanks, Donna, for noting that E6000 and Goop aren’t the same thing. I’ll check out that Belle Armoir Jewelry mag too. I’m actually starting to get more excited about this stuff, thanks to everyone’s encouragement and suggestions!

Possible glues and how to use them
by: JoAnne Green

I definetly agree with E6000 and jewelery epoxy. Add Gel style fast setting LokTite glue in the little bottle you sqeeze from the side. Sometime you have a limited surface area for gluing and the gel doesn’t run, sets in seconds and holds. Experiment with surfaces – E6000 is great for all surfaces but especially uneven ones. It is also the easiest to clean up and the most forgiving. Expoxy works well with most surfaces and the clay type can rebuild a surface that needs a finding attached. Superglue needs smooth surfaces to work best, so I sometimes add a tiny bit of epoxy clay and use a needle file to smooth it.
Don’t forget to gently harvest the rhinestones from the pieces that cannot be reused. It is not hard to replace missing rhinestones and pearls. The result is a rehabilitated (the term restored implies to me that more was done than I am capable of doing) vintage piece.
I recently made a net necklace that was vintage inspired. I found it wasn’t complete until I added a single vintage earring.
I envy your “stash” – whenever I luck out and get such a prize I feel like I am on a treasure hunt as I sort through it and pick out the pieces for La Bell Harmonie’s repaired, rehabilitated and repurposed line.

using glue on vintage items
by: valarie

If you rough up the areas you need to glue be careful not to do that to the backs of gems. If they are foiled, you will scratch off the part that makes them sparkle. I do wire wrapping, and I would caution that if there isn’t a metal back on your rhinestones, you should glue on a small piece of ultrasuede before you wrap them so you don’t scratch the backs.

You don’t need metal talent!
by: Patricia C Vener

What a lovely bunch of treasures! I love Transforming unusable (or even usable but unwanted as is) vintage pieces into new works of art. I am a bead weaver so I eschew soldering whenever I can. I incorporate old pieces in new designs which revitalizes this guys.

You can use bead weaving, macrame, wire wrapping, cage-work, pretty much anything your imagination devises. To see some of my work as an example from the bead weaver’s perspective, I invite you to visit my web page at:

http://vener-art.com/transform.html

I also have a video (well, I don’t have it, Ripple100 has it) and if you want to see that, let me know and I’ll find the link.

Good luck, have fun, and let me know if I can advise further.

More thanks…
by: Karen

Thanks for the additional, helpful responses. And Patricia, I would love to see the video if you find the link. You can actually email it directly to me at kfaith331@comcast.net if you like, or certainly post it here so others can view it too.

What my Mother did
by: Anonymous

My Mother, bless her heart, took her old jewelry, earrings that lost their mate, necklaces, bracelets, etc., and made a “Christmas Tree” with them. She took off all backs to make them flat, cut the shape of a tree from 1/4 inch plywood, covered the plywood with green felt, and glued the pieces of jewelry on it – a bracelet for the base, a pretty rhinestone necklace curved at the bottom of the tree, etc. and edged the sides of the tree with a pretty trim. She then put the “tree” on a square (30″x30″) of 1/4 inch plywood covered with black velvet and had my brother drill holes thru all just large enough to fit a strand of 35 small christmas lights thru. Also had my brother make a wood frame for it. It’s beautiful in the daylight, and especially pretty when lit. I now have it and keep it on the wall year ’round as a keepsake from her.

Christmas Tree
by: Karen

That tree idea sounds lovely – especially if it was made from your mother’s jewelry. It’s a nice keepsake to have and to pass on. Thanks for sharing that idea!

Lost Link
by: Patricia C Vener

Grr. I can’t find the link and google isn’t helping. I think I’ll email my contact (even though she is no longer with the company) and see if I can’t get the vid if they have taken it down.

Sigh :)

Repurposing is Green too
by: Maria Jenny

I really love the idea of repurposing old jewelry into new designs. I recently took an old gold plated chain necklace and repurposed it into a beautiful necklace using turquoise wire wrapped beads. I also took apart an old wooden bead necklace and made a new design adding some seed beads. It was definitely a lot of fun.

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Comments

  1. so happy to see this conversation! i have several old and precious rings, recently inherited from my mom, as well as my husbands high school ring and some other miscellaneous rings that are precious to me. I’m thinking of putting them all on a big, wonderful handmade charm bracelet – will check the links above for other ideas and will post my stash of rings here. I am challenging myself to get this done in 2014…..sooner rather than later! thanks for the inspiration, everyone!

  2. Susan Baker of "Susi's Workshop" says:

    I am so glad you have posted this conversation. I like to do wire working with stuff that I make. Old pieces are very inspirational like everyone says. I would probably figure out a way to work with all the pieces, and make other interesting things. You might be able to bend pieces of stud earrings like the backs that stick out, in order to make loops so that you can attach chain or jump rings or even thread wire through them. Also like that one person was saying, you can use a piece of mesh material which doesn’t necessarily have to be metal to put some of the earrings into. Like you could take the mesh material, leave the earring on its hook, that way it can flow and move, and then use other ones that might be stud earrings and place them around, then put like a flat piece in there that you can wire work into the mesh. Even if you used recommended glues it should help you make something interesting. But there are all kinds of ideas of creations you can make with your pretty wonderful collection of stuff. Good Luck and hope you have a wonderful time “building up your creations”.

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