Spring Cleaning For Your Jewelry – My 10 Favorite Tips From Readers and Our Winner!

So many of you had so many great tips and ideas for repurposing and spring cleaning your jewelry! It was a tough call, but we finally selected this tip from reader Shelly Gillman as the winner:

"My mother-in-law gave me a long, vintage, crystal necklace, probably from the 1920's, that belonged to her mother-in-law.  She'd never worn it herself, because it was a much larger piece than she'd ever be comfortable wearing.  I decided to take it apart and make something out of it my mother-in-law would enjoy.  I washed the beads first, by the way, by soaking them in denture cleaner.  While I was at it, I made a piece for my sister-in-law and a piece for myself.  I used the larger vintage beads as focal points in the three necklaces, adding smaller, new Swarovski and sterling wirework to each.  While the materials were similar in all three necklaces, the finished necklaces were very different from each other, made with the recipients' tastes in mind.  

One year, my friend was in charge of our bead group's annual retreat challenge.  She bought a thrift store necklace that was mostly made of the same large beads in a single strand.  She cut it apart and gave one to each beader who had registered for the retreat, with the challenge of making something new out of the bead.  It was fun to see a nothing-special necklace transform into many gorgeous (but different!) pieces!

Our bead group is now talking about a new type of challenge where we'll exchange abandoned UFO's."

Congratulations, Shelly!

We went through the rest of the comments and chose ten of our favorites to share with you here:

  • DragonflyDreamweaver wrote: "When I am working with vintage beads, the first thing I do is take the old item apart and set all the beads out in piles. This removes the old look and allows the creativity to begin in a new fashion. Sometimes I take apart several similar colour pieces so that I can intermingle the beads and see what will work together. This usually gets things going but if I need further inspiration I browse the hundreds of pictures on the internet. A little of this one, a little of that one and before I know it, I have ideas for a whole new wardrobe of spring jewels."
  • Nedale67 wrote: "I use leftover bead woven components as focal or accent touches on my bead embroidery.  If I have a pretty beaded flower that never made it into a bracelet or a necklace, it's great fun to stitch it down to my foundation and bead embroider around it!  AND, you don't have to cut things up to use them!"
  • chezsey wrote: "We all have those UFOs (unfinished projects) and sometimes they are projects that just don't work out but are made out of amazing beads and really beautiful color palettes.  I  disassemble those projects and bag up the beads in small clear baggies.  Then I throw those projects in a fishbowl and when I find a lovely button, pendant or other element at a garage sale I dig through the fishbowl to find an already assembled colorway that works well with the element. This saves time trying to put all those tiny beads back into the right tube or string and it saves money because I already have most everything I need to design a project. It also helps with cleaning up the mess because a large pet store fishbowl has a flat side that fits snug against the wall and keeps the projects contained neatly while enabling me to see all the pretty beads."
  • artprncss wrote: "I like to have a Krylon 18K Gold Leaf Pen handy and use it for color repair on found vintage pieces so I can make them into something new. I also use Elmers Acrylic painters pens in Silver, Gold, and other colors for repair or just to color my filigree or vintage pieces to make a new project and I always coat the paint with Vintaj Glaze for Metal Sealer and Patina Extender. I sand and ruff up some pieces and paint them with nail polish and then seal them also."
  • dswee3 wrote: "One of my favorite finds is often overlooked and yet so easy to convert into something handy. I am talking about old fashioned clip on earrings. They make an awesome clasp, connector, a great way to lengthen a piece, and for an "add a pendant" they are super slick, super easy!  Sometimes they can be used just as they are, attached to your finished piece with bead stitching or jump rings, sometimes taken apart and reassembled more directly into a design. Vintage rhinestone pieces are some of my favorites and the added bonus is you dont have to find these in pairs for them to be uber helpful!"
  • TashaYar wrote: "Wash those beads!. Don't be tempted to use old beads that have been lying around for years after being worn for years. The accumulated dirt and oils can actually harm your new beads, especially those with exotic finished. Mix up a little liquid hand soap and barely warm water and swish them around a bit. Rinse with cool water and spread out on a towel to air dry. You will see the true color and sheen as well as protecting the finish of the new project. If the beads peel or the color washes off, you are better to know now than after you spend hours creating a new piece."
  • Kellita wrote: "Since the subject is spring cleaning–I buy a lot of old beads and necklaces at  garage sales, and when I get them home they get a bath. I unstring and soak glass and plastic beads in warm water with a little dish detergent. Let them soak for a bit then agitate with your fingers. Rinse in a strainer and dry on paper towels. Use a white bowl so you can see how much crud you are getting rid of.   The first time I did this I was really surprised at just how dirty beads can get. After their bath the beads are sparkly and ready for their new incarnation. Of course Do Not do this to anything you think may be harmed by the soaking or detergent."
  • GinnySycruo wrote: "There are almost always collections of beads or "orphan" beads left over after putting together necklace, bracelet or earring projects. I combine all of  the leftovers in a small, clear plastic container and add more of the same/similar colors as I clean up new projects. Eventually there are enough beads in the containers to create new projects. No waste, and quick and easy to clean up after each project! An added bonus is there is always a cache in which I can find beads that I can use to create an extra pair of earrings, do a repair, or create other jewelry if it is needed in the future."
  • Rhonda Chase Design wrote: "I love using vintage jewelry elements, but I'm also very aware that sometimes the older, unregulated materials contain less-than-healthful substances. As such, I design my jewelry with this in mind. I keep the vintage beads and metal parts from coming in direct contact with the skin by using new settings for old beads and crystal, letting vintage chain dangle from earrings (away from skin), etc. When skin contact can't be avoided, I use sealers and epoxies to contain any leaching. This will also prevent skin discoloration."
  • momtj2013 wrote: "My favorite way to repurpose or upcycle any odd bit  is embedding them in resin either as a focal point or background. My favorite resin pieces are mini collages with variety of layers. This is an excellent use of broken charms, lonely beads and even old electronics. Short bits of "waste" wire can be incorporated. A few small bends or a twist and suddenly the small over used, usually in my case abused, bit of wire becomes a central part of a resin collage. Bead woven test pieces, failed wraps anything can be effectively used in resin collages."

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment and participated in our Spring Cleaning For Your Jewelry Contest! Check out the original blog and read all of the great ideas and tips from readers!

Bead Happy,


Post a Comment