What to Do with Your Jewellery Supply “Left-Overs”

by Helen White.

Hemalyke and siam crystal bangle by Helen White.

Making jewellery inevitably produces waste – you end up with left over threads, beading wire, single beads, chipped beads and other materials.

But before subjecting these to your bin, spare a second thought on these items as they might still be useful.


Memory Wire

When working with memory wire, I often end up with half a loop, especially when I create my three-tiered bangles.


Red agate three-tiered bangle by Helen White made from loops of memory wire.


Instead of binning these bits I keep and use them for cute dangly earrings. Just form a small loop on one end, thread your beads on, form another loop and attach to an earring finding of your choice.


Red agate earrings by Helen White, made from left over half-loops of memory wire.


Beading Wire

Mistakes can be easily made when creating necklaces using crimps and beading wire.

When this happens I snip off wire ends with the crimps, kinks or rough bits and often I still have wire long enough for a bracelet. I use shorter wire for earrings or as test pieces.


Sodalite earrings by Helen White use up scraps of beading thread (Beadalon wire).


Silver Wire / Plated Copper Wire

Wire that has been worked with and straightened a lot gets brittle, however if you have bits of wire that are still workable, keep them for creating links, jump rings and wire jig test pieces.


Dark rose pearl necklace by Helen White features connectors made from bits and bobs of silver wire.


Silver Sterling

I never bin silver bits – even though I can’t use them.

Instead I collect my silver scraps in a designated plastic container and when it’s full I will send it off to the British company Cookson Gold.

Cookson’s scrap recovery scheme allows you to send your collected silver scraps to them for recycling.

They charge for the service and their charges depend on the quantity of materials, the assay type and the process they use to recover the scrap. However they also pay for your scrap.

I don’t know about American companies, but would imagine some operate a similar scheme.

Left Over Beads

Often you end up with one or two beads of a kind. Don’t bin these – they can form the basis of an unusual design.

Beads with scratches or kinks in them, which I can’t sell in a finished piece, I often use for creations I either wear myself or for test pieces.

If you a have a chipped bead or pendant you can try and hide it strategically by wrapping wire over it.


Dark rose pearl necklace by Helen White.


Clays: PMC, Art Clay and Polymer Clay

The beauty of working with all these clays is that as long as they are not fired or cured you can re-use them.

Dry PMC and Art Clay can be re-used by adding water to form slick paste which is handy when you want to “glue” clay together in a piece.

Polymer clay can be re-used as long as you ensure that you don’t mix different brands (because they have different curing i.e. baking times) and store them in an air-tight box so they don’t dry out.

However often you end up with mixed colours which you normally wouldn’t use for a piece. These can form the core of beads or the back of a pendant over which you can lay the actual colour.

I hope you found these ideas inspirational.


Author Helen White is a Cardiff (Wales) based German freelance journalist who has started making jewellery in the run up to her wedding in 2007.
This year she took the plunge to sell her designs and launched her website Helenka White Design.

Keep up with Helen via her Helen’s Paws for Thought blog.


Using jewelry supply scraps
by: Rena

Thanks for these great ideas and examples, Helen! Using up leftovers is like getting free jewelry supplies. :o)

Regarding silver scrap, yes, several places here in the U.S. accept scrap precious metals. Some offer your choice of cash or trade-in, while others offer only trade-in. (In my opinion trade-in is the way to go, since most places offer a lower value for your scrap if you choose their cash option.)

Anyway, I especially liked your leftover memory wire earrings, Helen! Fascinating and clever.

Great Info
by: Susie

OMG, smart thinking and advise I will use from now on
Great job! Your very informative

Great tips
by: zoraida

Great tips on recycling leftover jewelry pieces. I used bits and piece of wire as dangles, jump rings and such. A little hammering often disguises any unwanted markings on wire and little assorted beads work well in a multi color design.

by: Helen

Thanks for all your comments.

also meant to say
by: Helen

Great tip from Zoraida.

by: Pepper

My odd beads and charms go into a wooden box for my granddaughter. She gets to design her own jewelry, which I put together with the leftover bits of wire from other projects. The jewelry is free, the time spent with her is priceless!

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  • Polymer clay bits of different brands can definitely be mixed! I do it all the time, and I have never had a problem. The only clay that is problematic is new Fimo, which has a baking temp of 230. However, when I have mixed the Fimo with Kato Polyclay (my preferred clay) or Premo, I always bake at 275, and nothing has ever burned or discolored. Much of my old clay scraps are no longer recognizable as to their brands, but, like I said, no problems!

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