Do You Wear Your Beginner Jewelry?

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena
Video Episode 12

by Rena Klingenberg.

Peek into my ancient history to see some of the earliest necklaces I made – and find out why I actually still wear them.

Transcript of This Video:

Do you ever wear your beginner jewelry?

Those very first pieces you created when you started making jewelry?

Well, over the years I’ve sold or taken apart or given away most of my beginner pieces, but I do still have a few necklaces that I made when I very first started out.

And I want to share some of those with your today, because I still wear these.

And this is one of them right here – this is the very first bead necklace I ever made:

Peridot necklace by Rena Klingenberg

Of course it’s in my favorite shades of green!

But unfortunately when I made it, I didn’t know that some gemstone chip beads have sharp edges:

gemstone chip beads can be sharp

But I haven’t changed out any of the sharp beads, because I want to leave my first bead necklace the way I created it.

This one is actually my favorite of all of my beginner necklaces that I’ve kept:

faceted serpentine pendant on garnet necklace - by Rena Klingenberg

This faceted serpentine pendant came with a metal loop in the top.

But every time I wear this necklace I can’t help thinking it could be improved with just a little bit of wire artistry on the pendant!

But, again, I want to keep it in its original state.

This one is the first two-strand necklace I made as a beginning jewelry artist:

turquoise heishi necklace by Rena Klingenberg

It’s made with fake turquoise heishi beads plus amethyst chips.

Now, this is not how I would design the ends of a two-strand necklace now – but it seemed like a good idea at the time:

And actually it turns out that I don’t usually wear this one as a necklace.

Instead, I usually wrap it around my wrist a couple of times as a bracelet:

turquoise wrap bracelet by Rena Klingenberg

So why do I still wear my beginner jewelry sometimes, and why do I want to keep it unchanged?

I want to honor my first efforts – the beginnings of my passion for making jewelry.

And it’s fun to look back and remember how exciting it was to make these first necklaces, and then actually wear them.

And they’re also a record of the people and experiences that have come into my life through jewelry.

Well, how about you?

Do you wear any of your beginner jewelry?

And what do some of your earliest pieces mean to you?

I’d love to hear, if you’d like to leave a comment below.

I want to thank you for coming in today to hear some of my ancient history!

I’ll see you soon.

FREE - Get 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks

Get Rena's 7 Super Jewelry Making Hacks, plus the Jewelry Making Journal Newsletter - all for FREE.

We Respect Your Email Privacy

  • Kim Klass says:

    I wear some of my early pieces of jewelry because of their sentimental value and the memories they bring up. Some of the really terrible pieces I may not wear and they are not good enough to sell but they serve as reminders that I have actually improved in my craftsmanship!

  • Maria says:

    Mijn eerste Sieraad bead embroidery is een armband…die zal ik ook nooit verkopen…het geluk gevoel wat ik toen had,het begin van een liefdevolle passie was begonnen. Ik zou niet weten hoe ik een foto kon plaatsen hier van,het is ook moeilijk te beschrijven ..Maar de armband vind ik nog steeds de mooiste wat ik tot nu toe gemaakt heb…dank je wel Rena voor de herinnering weer op te halen…hug maria

    My first jewelery bead embroidery is a bracelet … which I will never sell … the happiness I had then, the beginning of a loving passion had begun. I would not know how I could put a picture here, it’s hard to describe .. But I still think the bracelet the most beautiful thing I’ve made ​​so far … thank you Rena for the reminder to get hug … maria

  • Kathy says:

    I wear very few of my beginner jewelry pieces, but I keep the very first pair of earrings I made in my supply cabinet. It is a reminder of the excitement that I had when I first realized that I could really make jewelry! Some of the beginner pieces that I made look fine if I layer them with newer pieces.

  • Rae says:

    I rarely wear my early pieces because my work has evolved so much since I began. On my journey of design discovery I arrived at my niche which also paralleled my person journey of self discovery. My work, and the newer pieces which I do wear, is now jewelry for the spirit within. However, I do keep significant pieces that I could not part with when they were new. When I’m unsure of my next step, it is nice to look at the pieces as a reminder of how far I have come in a direction I would never have expected. It always inspires me to open myself to new inspiration.

  • Kathie L says:

    Thank you for evoking fond memories. I too, have kept several of my beginner pieces and wear some of them – others I just can’t seem to take apart. The very first piece I made was a mother of pearl double strand necklace with a focal MOP flower. I used a sterling triple clasp that my mother in law picked up for me (I told her I wanted to start making jewelry). As it turned out, my first piece went to my beautiful Mother-in-law. I used string and it REALLY needs to be restrung; however, she won’t let me! She loves it and wears it “2 to 3” times per week. She said that it is her favorite piece of jewelry because I thought of her first! (P.S.: Yes, I do have the most wonderful Mother-in-law in the Universe!)

  • I was just going through a box of jewelry I made years ago that I didn’t think much of, and a lot of them weren’t bad at all. But I had trouble with length, like the necklaces were too long or short. They need to be reworked. But I was working with mostly seed beads then, not gemstones, and I’m reminded that simple seed bead necklaces are nice, too.

  • Leslie says:

    My actual first necklaces were made with hard wire from a spool as I didn’t know anything about making jewelry, with glass beads from a plastic container kit. I keep those two hanging in my art room to show how far I’ve come. I then bought a bunch of magazines and books and learned better techniques and supplies. My next necklace (my first for me to wear) fell apart in the chiropractor’s office because I didn’t know how to check my crimps properly (first crimp in small crimp hole, then I squash it flat with pliers, tug the wires to make sure it’s tight, then finish the second crimp rounding part, check again). I later sold the receptionist two necklaces. That first blue necklace is my favorite and I still get compliments on it. I made several after that for myself and wear them constantly because I love the color combinations and the simple designs. I have progressed to much more complicated designs, for which I get continual compliments and requests for jewelry made to order. However, those first five or six are my favorites. I will only change them to replace some of the spacer beads that were gold-plated and it has worn off.

    Anyone know how to replate or paint or recolor faded metal beads? I have tried to paint my favorites and the gold color still wears off.

  • Tamara says:

    I still have, and love, one of my first creations. I had a whole bunch of miscellaneous glass beads, and I went through and picked out all the ones I liked – a colourful rainbow mix, with a few lampwork or unusually-shaped beads thrown in. I strung them with some gold-tone spacer beads, and added a good-sized brown glass repurposed pendant that was encased in golden metal. I always got compliments on that necklace because of the beautiful clear colours. A while ago I reluctantly took the pendant off to add to a piece I was preparing to sell, because it was so perfect for that necklace. I still have the strand of beads. I need to restring them, because there’s a bit too much play in the wire, and the crimp area leaves a little to be desired. πŸ™‚ So I’ll do that and find a pendant to add that’s perfect for now. Then I can enjoy wearing my necklace again.

    It was fun bringing this necklace back to my attention again. Thanks, Rena!

    Leslie, have you tried finding a gold-coloured nail polish to apply to your worn metal beads? You could seal it after applying the nail polish.

  • zoraida says:

    I’ve kept very few beginner pieces since I tend to take them apart and reuse some of the components. Looking back at most of them, they seem so amateurish to me, but that’s a good thing, I think. I like to think that means I’m evolving as an artist.

    I do have some simple earrings from my past and there are a few necklaces I’ve kept. The necklaces are very simple as well, just beautiful beads linked with sterling wire in a choker length style. I only wore chokers at one time.

    I no longer buy sterling silver because of the cost so I won’t dismantle the necklaces. The beads are so pretty on their own – large green Jade, Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, that I don’t feel they need any further adornment. Besides, I’ve grown very attached to them.


  • Barbara says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have only been at it for 2 or so years, but it’s wonderful to see how my skills have evolved and tastes have changed as well. While honing the art, it has gone from simplicity to more quirky, chunky pieces that I wear as well (for advertising purposes plus I like them) and my passion for making jewelry just keeps on growing with each new piece I create. I do have one original piece that I still wear from time to time, and like you I have seen some of the mistakes I have made with it, but love it nonetheless. I can’t wait till I am able to purchase your book. πŸ™‚

  • This is fun! My early pieces are easy to identify because I used cable and crimps back then. I still wear a couple of those, too! These days I prefer traditional stringing and a classic style, but I’m with all of you on seeing how far we’ve come. Here’s to how good we will be! I raise my cup of earl grey to all of you. – Barbie H

  • yogy says:

    I usually do not wear jewelry when I’m rushing out..but one of my jewelry is my fav- its a simple pearl jewelry I made to replicate my mom’s jewelry when I was growing up:) …I come from the Himalayas & my mom’s jewelries were all ethnic & hill region inspired…I always wanted her jewels..her precious jewels…


  • I actually keep very few pieces. I usually pull a pendant out of my inventory to “model” for a while, then put it back and wear something else, but it’s almost always a new piece. I want people to see the current direction of my work.

  • Wanda says:

    It’s funny that this should come up, because I was thinking just the other day about what to do with some of my early pieces. There are some I’m sure I’ll take apart and re-work,but there is one blue necklace I just can’t part with. It represents the first time I realized I could really do this! Sometimes,when I’m stuck for ideas or start to doubt myself,I look at this special necklace to remind myself,that yes I can design jewelry.

  • Diana Pucci says:

    To Leslie: you may want to visit this online store and check out their products. Ths place has Plug n Plate kits that are easy to use. I used it to Gold Plate some Brass Prototypes. Don’t know how long it lasts or how much plate is deposited. I did, on the last few pieces use the dip method with the plug n plate kit and used a piece of gold chain, I had left over from shortening a necklace, asper the instructions. I purchased the workshop version. Good luck. -Diana

  • Diana Pucci says:

    I have put my first and my favorite pieces in Shadow Boxes. Some I wear until the findings break and they have be refurbished and made into a new piece. I have been working in Poly clay, making faces then painting them with face paint designs inspired by Mimes, Rockstars, Scfi characters and influences from the various cultures of our world. Most of these have Been Broaches with a few pendants. I also do brooch size skulls as Tie tacks or Coat pins for Guys, though a few ladies have Purchased them as well. LOL I just found this site, I hope I can find the time to visit often. Very useful info. Thank you

  • Kathy says:

    It’s nice to read these comments. I don’t have any of my firsts but my sister does and she still wears them even though they aren’t as “finished” as my currents pieces are. It’s always nice to see her wear a piece I haven’t seen in a while. Last year I saw a young lady wearing one of my heart pendants that I made when I first started 6 years ago. It was kind of a good feeling.

  • Barbara says:

    I enjoyed your thoughts and thought you did some nice beginner work that does look good so why would you not wear it? I appreciate your sentimental attachments and the record of people and events you have by keeping your early creations, but if you weren’t especially still connected to those early creations, I assure you, there would be customers who would enjoy owning and gifting your pieces. Anyway, I AM A BEGINNER JEWELRY MAKER. I love jewelry, artistic creation, and stones (and other natural things). I took my first two jewelry making classes this year and am planning on taking more and want to start making gifts this holiday season. After learning and practicing a whole lot more, I hope to someday sell some of my creations too. I think I will sign up for your newsletter and start getting connected with ideas and information from other jewelry artisans. Thank you for your sharing of your experience and thoughts and for creating this website.

  • Leigh says:

    I do still wear a few of my early pieces and still get compliments on them. It’s funny to me as they were basically beads strung on wire w/ clasps, nothing fancy. But I think my love of the colors haven’t changed that much. I get a kick out of my friends wearing my necklaces, bracelets and earrings from the early days… They were all glass, which I hardly use any more, but they held up well (and fortunately my crimps were all tight enough!). It’s a fun question to think about and to think of the new (more complicated) styles I now make. But my enjoyment of making jewelry is the same as in the early days. I still delight over color, size, shape, stone and feel satisfied when I finish a piece!

  • Kathy says:

    Hello again
    This is for Barbara. I love your enthusiasm. I am not in any way affiliated with Rena but I bought her “jewelry booth book”
    and it is a great “tool” for someone new and just starting out. I bought it 2 years ago and went back into it last night and re-freshed my mind on my upcoming Christmas craft fairs. It’s good some good checklists…something I find very useful.

  • Barbara says:

    Thank you Kathy, for the tip about Rena’s “Jewelry Booth Book.” I will definitely check it out. I am enjoying reading everyone’s comments. I am still working on making neater crimps with tighter ends. Apparently I’m in the beginner stage that Leigh has happily left far behind a long time ago but still recalls her early learning challenge.

  • Dita says:

    Rena, Thank you so much for sharing your first pieces. I think they are lovely, especially the green one and what a neat idea of wearing the turquoise one as a bracelet.

    I still wear some of my earlier pieces and some of them turned out pretty good but mostly I tear them apart to make new ones.

  • GINGER says:

    The early piece of jewelry I love to wear is of sterling silver beads I bought in 1988 while visiting Old Town in Albuquerque. They were very expensive in street markets but I was sent to a nearby bead store where a person kindly showed how to calculate the metrics of a simple graduated bead necklace–which set me back the grand sum of $29.00. It goes with everything and draws complements wherever I travel. (Though I couldn’t afford it at today’s prices, it’s a happy result of a first venture!)

  • Michele Doane says:

    I have a big box of some of my early pieces that I plan to take apart and reuse the beads. Some are pretty bad. I do have a couple of bracelets I wear a lot, though. I really like them.

  • Autumn says:

    I ended up selling a lot of my beginner items. I kept a few, one of which I gave to someone special for the symbolism. The second is in my jewelry box. Due to the nature of the water (nicked/un-filed and very tarnish-able) and the broken inner-stone, i don’t wear it. I’ve considered doing a re-wrap in stainless steel with the exact design…but I don’t have the heart to do it. Some first pieces I did tear apart due to a major tarnish issue to my inventory last year. Others I still have, haven’t sold.

    Like many of you, my first items do make me cringe at the amateur nature–but they’re also inspiring and humbling. I’m instantly back two years, nearly crying with excitement because I actually MADE a pendant by looking at a photo! The person I gave it do has it in a place of honor. It’s very tarnished (pitted, actually), and she’s not wearing it. I have a fuzzy picture of when it was new though! πŸ˜€ Haha…memories.

  • PhyllisC says:

    Oh my!!! I love the memories wearing my first pieces of jewelry invokes!! I have branched into different directions than when I first started ( due to several reasons), and I find I am forever finding NEW things I want to try ( THIS from a person who really really DID NOT think I had a creative bone in my BODY!!! ROFL.
    But I have several pieces I wouldn’t part with for the world ( well, maybe for the world, lol), and I have sold MORE than one piece of jewelry right of my neck, arm or ears. I ALWAYS carry the little wipes, and if someone wants what I am wearing ( I always carry my cards, and a couple of little jewelry bags with me), I take it off, wipe it down with the wipe, place in the little bag and —— it’s THEIRS!!!
    I LOVE making jewelry!!

  • Andrea M says:

    My designs are sometimes fancier, than my personal style, and I have to sometimes “make” myself wear my designs in an effort to promote my business. As far as my “first” designs are concerned, many were purchased by my mother and I saw them this past weekend! I kind of cringed at the simple design elements and techniques, but, was also a little impressed at their durability.

    I liked the balance and color combinations of “most” of my work. In other words, my jewelry in the beginning was pretty decent, and I felt good about the quality.

  • LeslieB says:

    What a charming video, Rena!
    I still wear some of my early earrings, as I still love the composition and colours of the components. My earlier work involved mainly base metals and glass, while more recent work features mainly sterling silver, vermeil or gold fill and gemstones and pearls. But there will always be a place in my heart for what I think of as more bohemian elements, for a casual but sophisticated vibe.

  • Deborah Blake says:

    Most of my first pieces were made with beads that I took from my grandmother’s old jewelry box and mixed with a few new beads I was able to purchase. So I’ve kept most of them. I have learned a few new techniques and styles of jewelry making and spend way too much time on websites that sell treasures just waiting to be made. Someday I hope to design jewelry even if it is just for gifts or local events.

  • Dana C Smith says:

    I think it’s hard to let go of those first efforts, because we remember the excitment and enthusiasm we felt in the creation! Before we learned “the rules” for construction, color combining, etc… We were free and loving the experience!
    I still wear the necklace of turquoise and African beads-I still am CRAZY for African beads-that I made 5 years before I actually embarked on professional jewelry designing. I purchased the components in St. Augustine, FLA while hunkered down in the only town in the state that hadn’t been hit by a hurricane in 250 years-what I was told! My silversmith friend and I spent 10 wonderful days there surfing and poking around, while yet another hurricane was ravaging the south end of Florida. Remember 2005-Katrina and about 30 named storms all told?! I escaped the storm, but was caught by the stones!

  • Deborah says:

    First, I love the pice made with turquoise heishi beads plus amethyst chips! ItΒ΄s perfect! I used to create jewelery when I was younger and in the beginning I was every time wearing the new piece I created. After some time when I realized people like my work I started to give my work as birthday gifts to my friends and some family members. Anyway after 3 or 4 years, I somehow changed the style and stopped wearing this kind of staff, I got somehow tired or bored by that, and currently I only wear gold. :/ But I am still able appreciate when someone creates something beautiful and I really like your work!

  • Kim Acoya says:

    Hi Rena,
    I’ve been taking classes and learning on my own for a few years now. I have kept each of my very first designs. They mean a lot to me because I look at them and see how I’ve improved and know that I’ll continue to improve as time passes. Actually I was going through my inventory the other day because I want to take some of my designs home to Hopi when I go over the weekend. I came across some of my firsts that I forgot I had…I put them aside because those are “Keepers”. I do wear my own designs as it’s a way of showing people what I do…more people are learning that I’m into designing jewelry and it’s great recognition. Makes me feel good that this “my design” is being recognized by others and they always say “Oh, I want one!”

  • Julie Spark says:

    I have a few pieces of my beginner work as they were first created though I seldom wear them. When I heard the comments you made about your own beginner pieces I liked your attitude about it. I shall dig deep and bring beauty to the light and revel in my sparkles.

  • Sharon Meade says:

    Hi Rena,
    I was surprised to see your very first piece…mine was a green aventurine nugget necklace also! My daughter was making feather earrings at the time and I got bit by the bug and had her go with me to the craft store. I’ve often thought of reworking it, but now I think I’ll leave it as it is as a reminder. I still consider myself a beginner, an amateur, but do enjoy making earrings and bracelets. I’ve given some as gifts and sold a few, but mostly I wear what I make. To be able to sell my creations would be a dream come true. I’m new to your newsletter, but already looking forward to the next one. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and .

    Sharon Meade
    Apex, NC

  • Catherine says:

    Rena, I’ll be honest, the only thing I wear are my first couple of wrap memory wire bracelets. The first werent necklaces I made weren’t exactly what I would let anyone wear, but I didn’t realize that then, but I still keep them because they were the first necklaces I ever made so I’m still proud that I made them. Your first necklaces are beautiful! I am a green freak…aside from my Birthstone being emerald, green is my favorite color. Thank you for showing your first work.

  • Anna C says:

    Hello Rena,
    I just came across this post – and yes I still wear some of my older pieces. In fact, when I do, people often comment on how pretty they are. I have this Large round Carnelian Budha Pendant necklace that I made with faceted carnelian rondels, sterling silver bead,s and faceted round garnet beads. I have never been able to find another similar budha Pendant, so I wear it since it’s “Vintage” and also as a reminder as many people state here of how far I’ve come. On the other hand, sometimes I feel that I’ve come full circle – since I am making some similar pieces now.

  • Anna, I love that in a way you’ve come full circle in your designing. And that the Buddha necklace has been with you from the beginning! πŸ™‚

  • kathy corkery says:

    Anna I usually give me first tries at a piece to my sister and she loves them. She is also great advertisement for me as she will brag it up! I am still at the beginning of this journey so i consider all my pieces as beginner pieces. I love to look back at them to see how i am progressing with my work. I do have a few pieces that i really fell in love with and have kept for myself. In fact the first hand wrapped necklace i made with foil glass i wear all the time and i get a lot of comments on it. of course i offer to make one for them too! .

  • Liz, that’s a good question. If you don’t mind, I’ll turn this question into a post in the next newsletter. I think it will make an interesting discussion! πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for bringing this up.

  • >