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Let the Old Become New Again

Liz Law

Posted on December 29 2013

One of my favorite things to do is redesign vintage jewelry into contemporary pieces.  I get so inspired holding a beautiful and well-made piece of history that tells so many stories.  We hang on to these pieces for sentimental reasons or because they are too beautiful to give up.  Think of the gorgeous heirloom brooches that you keep tucked away in a box that you just can never seem to find the right outfit with which to wear them. Or that beautiful necklace you've been hanging on to because it's so gorgeous, but just feels too dated and a little ridiculous when you actually try to wear it.  I love the look of vintage, but know all too well that jewelry from decades ago can be somewhat tricky to pull off.  I see no point in letting these gorgeous relics sit in a drawer collecting dust, and I thrive on taking apart the jewelry of yesteryear and reincarnating it into contemporary pieces you would be proud to adorn yourself in today. 

This Christmas, my mother had a couple heirloom pieces she wanted me to repurpose into jewelry she would actually wear. 

One was a brooch that was her mother's.  It's a fairly large and ornate green crystal beauty (think Louis XIV) that begged to be updated into a necklace.  While I was tempted to add matching crystals and multi-layered strands, I resisted the urge to over-design and kept it simple, realizing the brooch has enough going on on its own.  I decided to feature the brooch on some vintage brass chain that shared its coloring and curved lines, and also drape a short layer of chain from the bottom of the brooch-turned-pendant to round it out with a nice curve.  I clasped the chain with a large gold toggle in the back, and was really happy with the result!  Here is a picture of my mom wearing the finished necklace with a red sweater for a nice Christmas look!

My other assignment was repurposing a cameo cabochon that my mom's father had gotten in Italy while stationed there during WWII.  The pressure was really on here! 

She actually had two of these, so the obvious choice would have been to turn them into earrings.  They are too big to be studs and to just put them on a hook and call it a day would have been boring.  Turning them into long dangles might have been interesting, but I didn't see that working for my mom.  So, I decided to turn one of them into a necklace.  This cameo has grey tones in it, so it needed to be paired with silver.  My mom prefers gold, but she has about 100 short chunky gold necklaces that I've made, so I figured the lady could use something long and silver.  I had just the right piece to affix it to in my bottomless bead stash: a vintage glass rectangle piece with designs on it that formed the perfect frame for the cameo. 

I hung the new pendant on varying chains of sterling silver that I cut and wire wrapped together, some oxidized and some bright silver, so the long delicate chain would be as interesting as the focal point at the bottom.  I think it turned out great!  Check out the final product below:


As I write this, I realize the theme of this blog entry coincides perfectly with that of the New Year.  Just like these vintage treasures became new again, I wish you the same spirit of renewal as you enter 2014.  

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