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Upcycled jewelry set

Create modern jewelry with thrift store finds
Thrift store jewelry

The challenge
Upcycle thrift store jewelry into fresh, fashionable designs

The catch
Use only the materials purchased (plus a few findings)

The result
2 necklaces, 2 bracelets, and 3 pairs of earrings

The cost
$16.22

I combined beads from several pieces to make earrings and a simple wired necklace with an ombré feel for a casual weekend look.

The original pieces were a layered necklace (too flashy for work!) and a simple cat’s-eye bracelet. By tripling the necklace’s chain and clustering the beads to make a bracelet and earrings, I have sparkly pieces that are still work-friendly.

Thrift smart

Remember these tips when searching for jewelry to repurpose:

  • Look for pieces with interesting chain, clasps, or bead spacers. I hit the jackpot with a long mixed chain necklace. I simply removed all the beads and wove the chains together to make the base of a new design.
  • It pays to purchase a strand with multicolored beads so you have numerous options for pops of color where you need them.

SUPPLIES


Necklace 17–19 in. (43–48 cm)

  • 6–8 18–20 mm assorted oval beads
  • 10–14 7–8 mm assorted round beads
  • 4–6 6–7 mm assorted beads
  • 6 mm charm
  • 20–24 3 mm assorted spacers
  • 6 in. (15 cm) scrap wire
  • 16–17 in. (41–43 cm) curb chain, 15 mm links
  • 17–18 in. (43–46 cm) figure-8 chain, 7 mm links
  • 17–21 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) head pins
  • 20–28 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) eye pins
  • 2 5 mm jump rings
  • lobster claw clasp
  • 2-in. (5 cm) chain for extender, 7 mm links
  • chainnose and roundnose pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters
  • camera or smartphone

Bracelet 7–8 in. (18–20 cm)

  • 2 18–20 mm oval beads
  • 5–7 10–12 mm assorted round beads
  • 11–14 7–8 mm assorted round beads
  • 8–13 6–7 mm assorted beads
  • 10 in. (25 cm) 22-gauge wire
  • 4 1⁄2 in. (11.4 cm) chain, 15 mm links
  • 25–31 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) head pins
  • 7 mm jump ring
  • lobster claw clasp
  • 1 in. (2.5 cm) chain for extender, 7 mm links
  • chainnose and roundnose pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters

Earrings

  • 2 7–8 mm round beads
  • 2 6–7 mm rondelles
  • 2 15 mm chain links
  • 2 1 1⁄2-in. (3.8 cm) head pins
  • pair of earring wires
  • chainnose and roundnose pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters
Check your local thrift store or bead store for supplies.


INSTRUCTIONS

Upcycled jewelry set Step 1
Step 1
Cut a 16–17-in. (41–43 cm) piece of 15 mm link chain with an odd number of links. Cut a 17–18-in. (43–46 cm) piece of 7 mm link chain. Cut two 3-in. (7.6 cm) pieces of scrap wire. Attach one wire through an end link of both chains. Weave the 7 mm chain through each 15 mm chain link. Attach the second scrap wire through the remaining end links.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 2
Step 2
Lay out your beads on a work surface in the desired design, arranging one to three beads per bead unit. (You’ll connect the bead units with head pins and eye pins.) Snap a photo for reference.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 3
Step 3
To make a bead unit: On a head pin, string one to three beads as laid out in your design. Make a plain loop. Make the total number of bead units required by your design.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 4
Step 4
To make a bead connector: On an eye pin, string one to three beads as laid out in your design. Make a plain loop. Make the total number of bead connectors required by your design.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 5
Step 5
To make a dangle: Open the loop of a bead unit and attach a connector. Close the loop. For a three-bead dangle, attach a second connector. Make the total number of dangles required by your design.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 6
Step 6
On the center link of 15 mm chain, attach the center dangle.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 7
Step 7
Attach the remaining dangles on each side of the center dangle, referring to your photo if necessary.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 8
Step 8
On one side, open a jump ring and attach an end link of each chain and a lobster claw clasp. Close the jump ring. Remove the piece of scrap wire.
Upcycled jewelry set Step 9
Step 9
On the other side, use a jump ring to attach an end link of each chain and a 2-in. (5 cm) chain extender. Remove the scrap wire. Attach a charm to the end link.
Upcycled earrings
Earrings
BRACELET
Upcycled jewelry bracelet

 

1. Cut a 5-in. (13 cm) piece of wire. On one end, make a wrapped loop. String an 18–20 mm oval bead. Make a wrapped loop. Make a second connector.

2. Cut three three-link pieces of 15 mm link chain. Open an end link as you would a jump ring and attach the loop of a connector. Close the link. Attach another chain to the remaining loop. Repeat with the remaining connector and chain.

3. Follow step 3 of the necklace to make 25 to 30 bead units. Attach one to four bead units to each link of chain.

4. Open a jump ring and attach a lobster claw clasp and an end link of chain. Close the jump ring. On the other end, attach the end link of a 1-in. (2.5 cm) chain extender.

5. On a head pin, string a bead. Make the first half of a wrapped loop. Attach the end link of chain and complete the wraps.

 

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