Nanny’s Treasures: My Vintage Heirloom Design

by Sarah R.
(Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada)

Some of my favorite memories of my grandmother are when she would let me explore her jewelry box.

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She had a multi level wooden jewelry box filled with all sorts of treasures. Some costume, some fine and many handmade pieces. I loved to look at each piece and hear the story behind it.

I am very lucky to have her jewelry box and most of the jewelry that it once contained. Every so often I look through her jewelry and admire each piece.

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I have wanted to make something for myself out of it for quite awhile. I always put it off because I was too scared to
alter any of it. I finally took the plunge a couple weeks ago and I’m sorry I didn’t do it earlier.

I started off carefully by choosing a few pieces that were in poor condition and outdated. I knew I would never wear them as they were so it didn’t feel so intimidating to take them apart.

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I cut the old cord strap off the watch, removed the ear wires and clipped the rhinestone clasp from the glass pearl necklace. I had her monogrammed gold locket ready to go. When I took
the clasp off I realized it would make a pretty link to connect the locket to the watch face.

I created wire links from the pearls with antique brass finish wire to give the necklace a vintage feel. I added a few clear Swarovski crystals to add sparkle and a tiny angel wing charm to signify that my grandmother has passed on.

I used the rectangular filigree earrings to add a little interest amongst the pearl strands.

I love the finished necklace and couldn’t be happier with it. I have worn it a lot since I made it and have gotten many compliments about it.

Many people have asked if I could make something using their special treasures. I think creating more vintage heirloom jewelry is definitely in my future.

I hope that she would love the end result as much as I do.

Sarah R
Sarah Reid Designs at etsy

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  • Susan says:

    Love your necklace! You did a great job. I would love to make something like that for myself.

  • Sarah R says:

    Thanks Susan! I’m sure you could. The hardest part was starting it

  • Liz Juneau says:

    Sarah,
    I love the combination of all of the elements of the repurposed jewelry. I too find it rewarding to work with vintage pieces, especially those that have sentimental value to us and others.

  • What wonderful treasures to design with, Sarah! And I love all your well thought-out details – especially including an angel wing. I’m sure your grandmother would be delighted with these new memories you’re creating from her jewelry box.

  • Sarah R says:

    Thank you Rena and Liz!

  • Penny says:

    This is beautiful. So delicate and well put together. Bonus is these are your keepsakes and you can wear them everyday, instead of them being in a drawer.

  • Love everything about this, repurposed, rewired, re-loved!

  • Rachel says:

    It would be fascinating to find that two generations from now, your descendants have added a piece from your jewelry in remembrance.

  • Kerry says:

    Thank you, Sarah, I was wondering what to do with my mother’s watch, which is very similar to this. I’ll have to pull out all my treasures from my mother and grandmother. What a wonderful gift idea for my sister!!

  • Debbie Sheegog says:

    Hi, what a lovely idea and tribute to your Grandmother! Both my grands were at my wedding in 1981, and died in 1990 and 1984? leaving us sad and my mom devastated for awhile. I had no idea how many incredibly dear pieces each had, with a variety of “real” gold, pearls, vintage rhinestone pieces like over a dozen pairs of earrings I was taking to my favorite designer locally to look at for inspiration and to make possibly something to preserve some, keep all safely and to make some into wearable pieces. In particular there is one 14k watch that is stunning. Because of it’s value and strength yet vintage so don’t want to risk wearing it as a watch/bracelet this gives me great inspiration to help design w/ another jeweler to carry out a piece similar to what you did..though more wearable, i.e. simpler to accentuate that one piece. I have a lot to work with! I can a) wait and do it myself when my jewelry workshop is set up again b) get someone to look at everything locally and design/make wearable pieces & a way to view/protect the rest or c) talk to someone like you and help design my grandmother’s tribute as you did for me to be able to wear!

  • Debbie Sheegog says:

    p. s. the necklace I am wearing in this photograph was made using my mother’s strand of pearls divided into two, so my sister received one as a surprise gift and I kept the other…I had my friend/jeweler help figure out how to lengthen the necklaces & design it to honor the original idea though a bit contemporary, and a 14k gold clasp… using 14k gold beads in between and it is stunning though simple!

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