In this tutorial you'll learn how to make what I call 'treasure necklaces', as they incorporate all sorts of new and old found treasures. This is the perfect project for upcycling pieces from broken necklaces, odd beads and other vintage finds. I have been making these necklaces for years and I love mixing semi-precious stones, newer crystal beads and vintage pieces for a truly one-off necklace.
- Vintage brooch, crystals and assorted beads.
- Round nose pliers.
- Flat nose pliers.
- Wire cutters.
- Jump rings.
- 8mm bead wire.
- 8mm ribbon.
1. Prepare Your Design
Before you start, have a play around with your materials to work out what combination and design looks best. The idea is to keep the design mis-matched and organic as possible, with a good mix of colour and texture. However, keep in mind that the final lengths of the beaded chain need to be the same length and roughly the same weight. This is important so your necklace hangs evenly.
2. Prepare Your Brooch
There are many different types of vintage brooches, so look out for one which has holes so you can thread it onto a chain, or you could use a chain to loop through a flat brooch, like I've done here.
The back of this brooch was damaged so I removed all the fastenings with wire cutters. If you want to keep the back fixtures, wrap a little bit of beading wire around the opening to keep it fixed. Set to one side.
3. Prepare Your Small Beads
Ideally you will be using a mix of small and large beads. Use eye-pins to prepare your small beads. Mark on the nose of your round nose pliers the size of the loop on the eye-pin, then thread your bead. Cut off any excess length of stem of the eye-pin, then tightly place the stem between the nose of the pliers at the point you marked and twist the stem around the pliers in a clockwise direction to make your loop. Repeat this with each of your small beads.
4. Prepare Your Large Beads
You will need to make wrapped loops for your large beads, which will make the necklace more secure.
Cut a length of beading wire to about 10cm, however the length really depends on the size of your bead. Take your round nose pliers and wrap the wire around, making a 90 degree loop.
Take the flat nose pliers and hold the loop tightly at the point where the wires cross. Now take the smaller end of the wire in another pair of pliers, and wrap the wire around the stem in a clockwise direction three times. Cut off any excess wire.
Thread on your beads and repeat the above steps to close. Do this with all your large beads.
5. Assemble Your Beaded Necklace
Start with the ends that will be attached to the ribbon with your large beads, which should have wrapped loops. Work your way down the strands mixing small and large beads. Each length should be about 20cm long.
6. Add Your Brooch.
Take a length of chain at least six times longer than the length you are wrapping. Fold in half and place the brooch on top. Thread the ends back through the loop and pull tight. Trim the excess chain around 0.5mm from the edge of the brooch.
7. Attach Brooch to the Necklace
Using jump rings, fix the chain to the beads. With two pairs of pliers, pick up a jump ring. Slowly, while holding the jump ring between the two sets of pliers, move your left hand away from you and your right hand towards you slightly. This will slowly and carefully open the jump ring, allowing you to attach it to one of the ends of your chain.
Once the jump ring is attached to the end of the chain, close it up with the pliers by moving your left hand towards you and your right hand away from you.
8. Attach Ribbon
Cut a piece of ribbon 50cm long. Approx. 7cm from the end of the ribbon, make a loop and thread through one end of your beaded chain. Thread the lengths of ribbon back on itself and pull securely. Repeat on the other side. Cut off any excess ribbon.
Wear Your Necklace
Once you get going on these necklaces, they become really addictive to make. If you are new to jewellery making and are just starting up your bead collection, look for beads that are of a similar tone and colour palette but have different lustres - think pearl, crystal and glass. By mixing textures and lustres you will create a nice depth of richness to your pieces.
Do you like making your own jewellery? What would you use for your own treasure necklace? Maybe you could a Gatsby-inspired piece? Let us know in the comments below.