What Makes Vintage-Style Jewelry: A Button Project and Classic Design Elements in 10 Vintage-Style Designs

What determines if something has vintage style? Not whether a piece actually is vintage, but looks vintage, has that vintage feel that so many of us love?

While I was looking over our newest eBook, 10 Vintage Style Projects Plus Bonus Filigree Tips, it occurred to me that there are definite techniques and elements in jewelry design that just say "vintage style" to me–filigree, granulation, enamel, engraving, and certain distinctive design styles (such as vines, lattice, or Art Deco lines) are some of them. They have a classic, craftsman feel that reminds me of Old World techniques that are too infrequently seen in our automated, mass-produced, 3-D printing world.

Pearls (of course) but also opals and garnets, for some reason, scream "vintage" to me–must be because of the Victorians and those Downton Abbey ladies–along with rhinestones and buttons. Is anything more old school, vintage, good-old-days-ish than a carved mother-of-pearl button? So find your grandmother's button jar and pick out some beauties to feature in this button bezel project by Helen Driggs (from the September 15, 2009, Flashcard newsletter). Once you've created the bezels in which to rivet-set your button treasures, you can turn them into any jewelry you like–a pendant, earrings, a bracelet, or a brooch.

  1. Fabricate a bezel to fit your button. (You can learn more about making a bezel here.)
2. Mark the locations of the button holes on the backplate of the bezel and centerpunch them.
3. Choose wire or tubing for the rivets that will just pass through the button holes without forcing. You might need to draw down the wire to the correct size.
4. Gauge a corresponding drill bit, once you've chosen the wire.
5. Mark the holes on the back of the bezel using your button as a template and a Sharpie. Drill the divots on the backplate with the chosen drill bit.
6. Rivet the wires through the button. You can try balled wire ends with the torch, or just go ahead and make the rivet heads with a hammer before inserting them through the button, then the drilled hole, and finally out the back. Don't torch your precious button, though.
7. Clean-finish the rivets on the back so they are flush. If your sheet is thick, you can countersink the drilled holes with a ball or setting bur, so the rivet wire expands out to fill it.

8. Burnish the bezel against the perimeter of the button.

Voila! –Helen

The 10 projects in 10 Vintage Style Projects Plus Bonus Filigree Tips feature many of the elements that feel so vintage to me– pearls, opals, rhinestones, even a treasured shard of broken china. Anyone who has a passion for making vintage-style jewelry will love the 10 projects in this eBook, featuring craftsman-style techniques such as granulation, filigree, and more–plus extensive information about Russian filigree. Download 10 Vintage Style Projects Plus Bonus Filigree Tips and you can be making vintage-style jewelry right away.

P.S. You can learn more and read the whole story behind Helen's button bezels.

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