Tuesday, 11 September 2012


There are such lovely bold trends in contemporary
jewellery - BIG fashion statement pieces!   
(as shown in the image above) but sometimes, it's hard to
know how to get started or be inspired to make this
type of prominent, original design!

UPCYLING (or, "recycling" as it used to be called
before it became so fashionable!) is such a great way
to give wasted or useless materials and components
a completely new, improved life as well as inspire a
trend setting piece.

Turn your junk into new treasures!

As autumn descends, you'll have more time to
sit indoors and creatively design some special
pieces.  But where to begin?  Well you could
start by asking all your friends and family if
they have any old broken bits of jewellery that
they no longer want ... or maybe, go through
your own jewellery box and find things that
you don't wear any more or need repairing...
You could also try looking at charity and thrift
stores ... Go on a junk hunt and I'm sure you'll
come up with a stash of stuff!

I've put together a TUTORIAL to show you how
I approach an upcycling project ... obviously,
each piece would be different, depending on
the components I'm using (or, the mood I'm in!).

Above - is the stash I picked up to make my new
piece ... an old brooch, broken knotted pearl necklace,
broken earrings, and turquoise chain necklace, some
curtain rings, some brass chain from a hardware store
... all pieces that have been sitting around and seen
much  better days!

1.  The way I get started, is to sift out the largest or
most 'statement' like pieces from the pile, as they
will make up the centrepiece of my design.

2.  Next, I place them on my bead mat to get a balance
for colours.  You can either choose to go down the symmetry
route or create an asymmetric design. I have such a hodge-
podge of styles and shapes, that I've decided to try and retain
harmony and balance with colour rather than shapes.

3.  I now need to work out, how and with what, I am
going to connect and attach my components together
and because of this colour scheme, I've decided to
blend the tones and use copper and gold plated

4.  Looking at each of my components, especially
the focal units, I decide which ones need adapting
or revising to bring them back to life.  The brooch
(above) needed the broken back pin removing. I've
also disconnected 3 of the pendant tassels and added
some new ones to blend in with the rest of the
colour scheme I'm using.

5.  With a bit of fine wire wool, I've brushed up
the outer decorative edge and managed to prise
off the white ceramic centre 'stone'. Then I've
used some hole-punch-pliers to create holes on
each side for connection to jump rings.

6.  What to put in place of the white ceramic
stone? I could have used liquid resin, done some
decoupage, glued in a new stone, or coin ... but
in the mood I was in whilst making it, I took a
decision to punch stamp a circle of copper and
connect this with spiral rivets to the centre of the
old brooch frame.

7.  The brass rings looked a bit dull when they
were empty ... so wired in some of the beads to add
extra colour!

8.  Then, I started threading some of the beads with wire,
making links at each end ...

9.  These resin beads looked so different to the round ones,
that I choose to link some of the broken turquoise necklace
to one edge on two of them.

10.  And if you want to make larger units out of smaller
components, this can achieved by binding them together
with wire to form a new, much bolder unit!

TA DA!! Here it is the finished piece! A big bold
statement necklace created out of broken, junk

Each piece you create will obviously be completely
different, however, the main things to consider are
BALANCE and HARMONY in shape and colour.

1.  Start by picking out statement, or focal components
for your design.
2. Consider a basic shape, foundation outline for
your piece, by placing your units together. Is it going
to be symmetrical or asymetrical...
3. Work out a colour scheme from the beads and
pieces you have (let them 'speak to you') and if they're 
all very different, introduce a new themed colour 
to create overall continuity to the piece.
4. Look at each component and consider if it needs
extra embellishment, refurbishing or cleaning, etc...
5. Place and plan your design by placing your components 
on your bead mat in a rough design and spend some time
repositioning them until the units and colours appear 
unified and colour harmonized.
6. Connect all units together, with jump rings of the
same colour to retain overal unity and harmony. 
7. Wear the finished piece and look at it on in the
mirror.  This will expose any balance issues and
you will be able to see if it hangs properly and

DRINKING CANS, RIBBONS ... you name it!
It can all come to life in a new form ...
Don't be afraid to experiment!



  1. Excellent!

    I have recently started offering a recycled jewellery service at some of my shows where people can bring a range of broken bits of jewellery and I can then make something new for them. This gives me some fresh ideas on how to approach the recycled jewellery offer I have. Thank you for this article Linda.

  2. You're welcome, Shalini! All the best with the new service you're offering!

  3. Thank you for this Linda and lots of lovely inspiration for my bags of bead stash and oddments and broken bits that aren't broken enough not to treasure!

  4. Thanks, Sally ... it is a very satisfying feeling, making something new and useful, out of old, worthless junk!

  5. Very interesting Linda. I love to recycle and incorporate any recycled item into my jewellery. They make the jewellery so unique. Thanks for sharing this inspiring article.