Vintage Jewelry Inspiration: Design Sketches and Ideas

Everything Old is New Again

In the fall issue of Stringing, the editors (Melinda Barta, Danielle Fox, and Elizabeth Murray) all went shopping at flea vintage inspirationmarkets, antique stores, and thrift stores and with some advice from jewelry designer Mysti Gulsrud, they each created a necklace or bracelet that mixed modern components and antique finds.  

The idea of mixing vintage and modern jewelry sounded like fun (and their finished designs are gorgeous!), but I'll admit I was a little bit skeptical about the whole thing.  Was it really that easy? 

To find out, I asked the Stringing editors to join me in a design challenge featuring three of Danielle's "leftover" vintage pieces not used in the magazine.  The rules were very simple–choose one of the three pieces pictured (a butterfly clip-on earring, a flower brooch, or a pocket watch) and sketch one idea. 

My Design Idea

I chose the small pocket watch to use as a necklace pendant.  I used a large copper jump ring to attach the watch to a necklace of filigree brass beads, brown crystals, and steel blue faceted glass rondelles.  At the other end of the watch, I used a brass jump ring to attach several brass, gold, and silver keys from my stash.  Because the watch was a lighter color than the other metals in the necklace, I darkened the watch with liver of sulpher.

Elizabeth Murray, Assistant Editor

Elizabeth also selected the watch, but she created a bracelet instead of a necklace.  She cleverly used the monogrammed back of the watch as her centerpiece.  Then she added 3-loop antique brass flower connectors, antique brass or gold chain, and a matching toggle clasp.

Melinda Barta, Managing Editor

Melinda used the butterfly earring for her design.  She trimmed the clip-on earring finding from the back of the butterfly and attached a gold-filled jump ring to one of the openwork wings, turning it into a charm. Then she hung the butterfly from a hammered brass ring, along with one antique brass tiny round locket charm and one 2-flower charm.  She attached a chain to the top of the ring using a lark's head knot.

Danielle Fox, Editor

Danielle chose the large flower brooch as her design inspiration.  She placed it on the right side of her necklace and added light cream rose Swarovski crystal pearls, a box clasp with a floral motif, and a mix of gold, copper, or rose gold chains. She removed the pin back with cutters, filed the rough edges, and then used beading wire and a jump ring to attach the brooch to the necklace.

For more design ideas and shopping tips, check out the article "Revisting the Classics:  How to Use Vintage Jewelry to Invigorate Modern Designs" in the fall issue of Stringing on sale now.  Jewelry designer Mysti Gulsrud shares how much you should pay for vintage pieces, where to shop, and what kinds of additional tools you might need it your jewelry toolbox.  Plus, you'll find full instructions an original necklace created by Mysti, as well as jewelry designs by editors Melinda, Danielle, and Elizabeth.  The same issue also includes two pages of different types of keys in the "Beads to Buy" section and an article titled "Creating the Perfect Patina" which tells you how to darken metals for an aged look.   

If you have vintage jewelry shopping or designing tips (success or horror stories!), I'd love to hear them.  Please share your ideas and tips on the website.


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