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Modern Victorian-style cameo necklace

Deconstruct a chain necklace — then rebuild it with a contemporary look.
Cameo appearances_full view
Designer's note: Constructing your necklace on a form makes it easier to position the chains and embellishments.

When I decided to update my favorite Victorian-style cameo necklace, I fast-forwarded to today’s less formal look. The cameos now hang as mini-portraits on a gallery of variegated chain. 

Building a necklace using vintage and new component parts gives you a wide variety of design options. You can reuse chain, beads, cameos, or findings. Do not reuse jump rings because they may be brittle. 

SUPPLIES

necklace 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm)

  • 5 15–20 mm vintage cameos
  • 6 6 mm freshwater pearls
  • 5 4 mm Swarovski round pearls
  • brass swirl clasp set (Vintaj Natural Brass, vintaj.com)
  • brass chain (Vintaj Natural Brass, vintaj.com)
    • 30 in. (76 cm) 2 mm link chain
    • 28 in. (71 cm) 3 mm cable chain
    • 12 in. (30 cm) 7–10 mm link etched cable chain
  • 6 5/8 in. (1.6 cm) vintage S-connector links
  • 11 24-gauge brass headpins (Vintaj Natural Brass, vintaj.com)
  • 17 4.5 mm outside diameter brass jump rings (Vintaj Natural Brass, vintaj.com)
  • mannequin or form (optional)
  • T-pins
  • chainnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • wire cutters

INSTRUCTIONS

Cameo appearances_photo a
Photo a
1. Cut seven six-link sections of vintage or new 7–10 mm link etched cable chain. Open the end link of a piece of chain and attach an S-connector. Close the link. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chain (PHOTO A). This will be your foundation chain.
Cameo appearances_photo b
Photo b

 

2. Cut a 24-in. (61 cm) piece of 3 mm cable chain and a 30-in. (76 cm) piece of 2 mm link chain. Open a jump ring, and attach the end link of the foundation chain, the 2 and 3 mm chains, and half of a clasp (PHOTO B). Close the jump ring. Repeat on the other end.

Cameo appearances_photo c
Photo c
Cameo appearances_photo d
Photo d

3. Place the clasped necklace on a form. Using T-pins, pin the 3 mm chain to the foundation chain at three points. Repeat with the 2 mm chain. The 2 and 3 mm chains may be attached at the same points. Vary the length of the chain sections to make swags of different sizes. 

4. Cut a seven-link piece of 3 mm chain. Open a jump ring and attach it to one end of the seven-link piece of chain and the loop on a cameo (PHOTO C). Close the jump ring. Repeat to attach the other end of the chain to the second loop of the cameo. Repeat this step with the remaining four cameos.

5. Open a jump ring, and attach it to a link of each chain pinned to a connection point, and the middle link of the piece of chain attached to a cameo (PHOTO D). Close the jump ring. You may also choose to attach a cameo to the swag section of the chain.

6. String a freshwater pearl on a head pin. Make the first half of a wrapped loop. Repeat with the remaining pearls.

7. Decide where you want to place the pearl dangles on the three chains, and slide each loop onto the chain. Remove the necklace from the form and complete the wraps.

FIND MORE: necklaces , metal , wirework

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