July 27, 2014

Trash to Treasure: Ten DIY Projects Using Old Jewelry


For years, I’ve walked by baskets filled with tacky, old lady  vintage jewelry at yard sales. Since I vaguely remember hugging my grandmother, and always having to dodge the metal objects that were pinned to her chest, somehow memories of these wonders didn’t conjure up warm and cozy thoughts of beautiful art, until I met Angela.

It’s amazing how things we once passed by without a second glance, now catch our eye, and we are thrilled. Like this entire lot of costume and antique jewelry at a yard sale. I asked her how much she would take for all of it and after much deliberation and thought, she mentioned, “$3.” I squealed (but only in my head, I assure you.) Typically, one or two pieces might sell for that much on -line.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” states the famous quote and in this case it’s so true

What I once considered trash is now a treasure. I’ve found new life for these vintage pieces. I see depths of beauty and color that I never observed before. Now my mind goes to all the wonderful DIY projects that can be created, embellished and spruced up with just a few pieces of vintage jewelry.

I love how Country Living turned vintage jewelry into refrigerator magnets.

By using a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the hardware from the back of each brooch, and then affixing a superstrong magnet with a small bead of glue (love Gorilla Super Glue), fridges will be the most hip spot in the house.


My Frugal Fashionista side went crazy with this fun re-purposed belt.

Do you know how many ugly $1 belts there are at thrift stores? I bet this was one of them before it was turned into a treasure?

She truly has a fun gift of re-creating Trash to Treasure.

Do you remember my quick kitchen cabinet redo where I spray painted all my cabinet knobs?

matching kitchen appliances opt Spray Painting Cabinet Knobs

It was a great, cost effective quick fix, but seeing this next idea makes me think outside the box for other redos I’ll be doing with painted knobs.

How fun are these?

Use the same directions as above and super glue the costume jewelry right onto the knobs for a unique, costume look.

At every yard sale and thrift store I walk into, there are old, sad, white lampshades that need a home. In fact, I am sure I have a few of these in my attic. What a great idea to spruce up a plan lampshade and make a unique statement piece just by pinning on a few old pieces of jewelry.
At my friend Heather’s home, I noticed her amazing Christmas tree completely made out of old jewelry.
The jewelry has been in the family, and I couldn’t help but this was a wonderful heirloom piece they created.

Wouldn’t this be fun to pass down with so many stories tied to different pieces? (Or if there aren’t, start making those family stories now.:))

The rest of these ideas are Angela’s. She is the one who initially inspired me to start looking for vintage jewelry, and continues to amaze me with how she will see junk in a pile on the side of the road, and within hours, it’s something she can sell in her boutique.
It’s a gift, I tell you, and that’s why she is speaking on Trash to Treasure at my Becoming Conference.
These just show how she’s embellished a few things, but I love them all.

By taking two wood stakes she found on a walk one day, she created a beautiful cross to hang in her craft room.

Use vintage jewelry to embellish craft flowers.
Are your creative juices flowing yet?
She loves to cut fabric scraps and make them into art.
And of course, clip any old jewelry pieces onto shoes or purses to make one of a kind Frugal Fashionista statements.
Hopefully this has inspired you just a bit to start looking at things around your home in new ways.
With the kids getting out of school soon, some of these would be some great craft ideas.
I plan on letting them paint an old box and embellish it with vintage jewelry, so that our girls can store all their treasures in their very own hand made, one of a kind DIY piece.

Have you ever decorated or made crafts with old jewelry?


  1. loving this post. I have been buying up old jewelry for more years than I can count…use to have someone that would sell me the ‘junk’ jewelry at the local thrift store for about $1 a bag…..so I need lots of ideas. this is really inspirational to me…gonna dig into the jewelry again…


  2. I love old jewelry! You will have to check out my blog for the beautiful bouquet I made with old jewelry!

  3. i love your belts. i can try that, belts are .99 at the thrift store, less than that at yard sales :) i never thought of it before!

  4. So….am I the oddball?? I actually wear brooches almost daily. Pendants bother my neck and give me a headache. So brooches are a fun way to accessorize. I have a few vintage ones…most are newer purchases or gifts.

    I have six wooden hearts (about 8″ across) from the craft store store that I covered with batting and fabric and put hangers on the back. They hang on my bedroom wall and are covered with my brooches. So in a way they are decorative while they wait to be worn.

    Jen Reply:

    Nope, I love brooches. I just meant ones that I used to think were kind of tacky that my grandma used to wear. I have come to see the light. :)

  5. In a previous life (before the kids outnumbered our common sense) I worked for an auctioneer. I would buy flats of the jewelry for my then 9 year old to play with. She would grab the flat, crawl under the table and play for hours. She’s now 25 and it’s one of her favorite memories. Mine too….only I wish I had kept the jewelry!!!

  6. I found some great clip-on earings that I repurposed into fabulous RINGS for all my friends for Christmas. I used Epoxy instead of Gorilla Glue. My friends loved them!

    Lisa Reply:

    Hi Melissa,

    What a great idea to make Rings out of old clip-on earrings!! Where do you buy the actual “rings”? Can you please describe how you make these in a little more detail?
    Much appreciated, I have several of these earrings I can make!


    Melissa Reply:

    @Lisa, You can order 2 different types of rings from any craft store or site (Oriental Trading Company sells a lot of jewelry making supplies). One is a simple adjustable ring- it is the cheaper of the 2. The other is an elastic/stretchable ring. They both have a ‘platform’ to adhere the earring too. Someimes I had to ‘flatten’ the ‘platform’ to help the earring adhere better.

  7. I love this! My grandma has one of those Christmas trees…I always like to look at all the beautiful old pieces that she can still name where she got them!

  8. Auntiepatch says:

    I have a Christmas wreath that someone made with old jewelry that I love. It hung on my mother’s wall for years and I rescued it when she passed away. My nephew was going to THROW IT OUT!!

    Jen Reply:

    Oh my – throw AWAY?? That would have been SO SO sad. So glad you came to the rescue. Take a pic, I’d love to see it. :)

  9. What fun ideas! Thanks for sharing : )

  10. 9/10/12

    I am very new to this art form; I’m like in pre-school or Head Start if one were to compare where I’m currently at in my skill level compared to what I see around me.What beautiful crafting/art work you have created!! I love your ideas and your work!!! A wonderful skill level goal to strive for. Thanks so much for sharing. 1msalliem :-D

  11. Millie J. Grams says:

    I had a collection (small) of rhinestone pins that were my Mother’s and several friends. I have pinned them all to my white shower curtain. Recently, I pinned them to the towels, hanging in our guests bathroom. I’ve had many comments of how “glitzy” our towels look and how special it makes them feel to walk in and see them. I’ve been doing this for many years…even before it was “chic” to do!!! I LOVE vintage jewelry. I’m on a hunt for some more to make gifts with.

    Jen Reply:

    Love that idea!! Thanks for sharing, Millie. :)

  12. I love the idea of re-purposing broken items or single earrings – but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do your research first! Or ask someone who KNOWS vintage costume jewelry! Just because YOU think it’s “out of date” or “tacky”, doesn’t mean it’s not worth WAY MORE than you’d suspect! I own a vintage shop (clothing & accessories) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen $300 pieces “upcycled” into a $5 trinket :(

    Jen Reply:

    Kristine – GREAT advice!! It reminds of me of the find just recently at the Goodwill where I shop. Church yard sale donated a $10 Goodwill painting, and it ended up being sold for $34K through Sotherby’s auction. Is there a good online source you’d recommend for people needing to do their research?

  13. kathy shelley says:

    i don’t have a picture, but one Christmas I took my grandmother’s vintage aluminum tree and hung or pinned all her old vintage costume jewelry and beads all over it with old glass ornament and a few nostalgic heirlooms. It came out looking like old fashioned candies and gave me the sparkle I couldn’t get from a string of lights. Can’t mix aluminum trees and electric lights! Maybe I’ll do it again. It was so much fun!!!

    Jen Reply:

    That sounds just beautiful. If you do it again, make sure you send me a picture. I’d love to add it to this post. :)

  14. wonderful ideas, so pretty i love love love the cabinet knobs that is a must for an antique dresser, oh the possibilities, thank you for sharing ..HAPPY CREATING!

  15. I guess I’m the oddball… I’m 54, but I’ve been wearing pins of all kinds since I was about 12 or 13… but I do own a few I’d rather not wear and these are great ideas to use them!

  16. Very inspiring ideas! I bought some whole and some broken vintage items last month. Now I have ideas to work with. You are truly creative. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Twila House says:

    I just made my first picture frame with vintage jewelry last night and it turned out wonderful! I go to all the local Goodwill stores and buy up their jewelry vases (they cram all kinds of jewelry into vases and then sell the vases full of jewelry). Loved all of the other ideas and will be trying afew of those too!

    Jen Reply:

    So fun! I’d love to see a picture and add it to this post if you have time. :)

  18. I love making charm bracelets and key chains for family members for christmas made out of older important people’s vintage jewelry and cuff links…this web site has given me some really great new ideas for what I call my “sentimental-crafty” gift giving this year! Thanks heaps! I’m so excited that I am already getting started for Xmas 2013 and it is only MARCH!!!!

  19. I knew there was a reason I never threw out any old jewelry…Your site has just inspired me to no end. Thank you from the bottom of my heart–Now, let’s get designing!

  20. Actually…We have been decorating with Old and Vintage jewelry for 2 weeks now! We used the jewelry to make Wine Cork Ornaments. They make perfect gifts for your “Girlfriend Ornament Exchange” or a very nice lady ordered them from us to give to her adult grandchildren, They all share the love of wine and have collected christmas ornaments since childhood so it was the most appropriate gifts.
    You are welcome to check them out here :

    Jen Reply:

    Those are SO fun!!

  21. BY THE WAY! Now we have more awesome ideas to try with our jewelry!
    I am thinking…..
    Mother’s Day gifts!
    Bridal Shower gifts!
    Hostess gifts!

  22. Chris laMore says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration!! I have a huge old cookie tin full of my moms costume jewelry that I cannot part with, but hate that it just sits on a shelf in my closet. I’m so excited to make a project! I’m not sure which one but b send on my moms faith and belief in God, the cross piece really speaks to me. Blessings to you.

    Jen Reply:

    I am so glad you came across this then. Yes, the cross piece is one of my favorites as well. Enjoy and when you finish, I’d love to see a picture of it. :)

  23. I just love when creative people turn other people’s “junk” into beautiful pieces of art!


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