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Incorporating Sentimental Vintage Jewellery Into Your Bridal Accessories: A Guide

Updated: Mar 23

Alternative modern bride wearing a bridal comb made from a vintage brooch


Lots of people want to honour their loved ones on their wedding day by incorporating a special keepsake into their look. Sometimes it can be as easy as wearing a string of pearls that belonged to grandma or having a family ring as your wedding band; but sometimes you may not want to wear what you have as it is. What happens then?


One of the special things about The Lucky Sixpence's custom made service is that I can transform pre loved vintage jewellery into something new; creating something modern from something old, something that reflects your style while keeping the sentiment. Here are 4 case studies to show what can be done with your sentimental vintage jewellery:



 

1. Reworking a sentimental pearl necklace into a headpiece or jewellery

A strand of pearls ready to be reworked into a one of a kind sentimental headpiece

We are often gifted pearl necklace's from loved ones but you may not necessarily want to wear it as it is or it may not compliment your overall look. Beads are super versatile for reworking as they can be transformed into pretty much any style of jewellery or headpiece.

The only problem is that sometimes vintage pearls can show signs of distress and so they may not always be workable. (see my blog about looking after pearls for details of what can happen to them.)


In this case study I worked with a vintage pearl necklace that belonged to my clients late mum. It was an 80s style choker but she wanted an organic style headpiece that could be worn anywhere in the hair while keeping the central element of the necklace which was a large imitation pearl surrounded with rhinestones. Although the necklace was made with glass pearls rather than freshwater, many were damaged with the pearl coating pealing away. The best of the pearls were selected for reworking.

brides sentimental pearls being reworked into a one of a kind bridal headpiece

My bride was wearing a bright white gown and silver jewellery but the pearls has quite a goldy tone to them. We decided that I would incorporate ivory and white pearls to graduate between the tones. To carry the sparkle from the central piece, additional rhinestones and crystals were incorporated into the sprays. Little loops were included into the beadwork so that it could be pinned anywhere in the hair. As a surprise I made a 3 strand bracelet using the original necklace clasp and remaining pearls.

a brides one of a kind bridal headpiece and bracelet made from sentimental pearls from her mother




It was a beautiful way to honour her mum and have items to wear on the day that reflected her style and drew the whole outfit together.


 



2. Using non bead necklaces for up-cycling projects

Vintage necklace (non beaded) are fantastic for reworking as in general as you can have repeat motifs and intricate details which can be worked across a piece or several pieces.


This client came to me with her nan's opal necklace which she had loved since a child. They were real opals set in 9ct yellow gold. As precious stones and metal I was really mindful that I wanted to create something for her which did not harm the stones and so I kept them in their settings; allowing them to be removed from the design should someone want to use them in another project one day.


The bride had seen a set of three combs I had previously made with leaf motifs and wanted to echo something along the same lines. I incorporated metal leaves, opal toned glass rhinestones and opal and pale green crystal to create one larger and two small combs that could be worn throughout her updo. It really was such an honour to work with something so treasured.



Here are some other examples of how vintage necklaces have been reworked into bespoke headbands, combs and crowns / tiaras.



 

3. Reworking a sentimental brooch into a headpiece.

Brooches are a fantastic way to add a focal point to your headpiece. They are brilliant for layering with beadwork and other metal motifs which can then be transformed into combs, wraps, head chains, crowns / tiaras and headbands. It doesn't matter if stone are missing or it's the wrong metal tone as you will see in this 1st case study.


...For this design I was given a brooch which belonged to my clients late nan. It was gold and had stones missing.

My bride wanted a headpiece that could be worn in the back of her hair, incorporating blue (for the something blue) and spray beadwork with sparkle like in some of my other designs.


details of reworking grandmas sentimental brooch into a bridal headpiece

The first thing I did was to remove the brooch fittings; carefully sawing and filing the piece to ensure it was smooth to the touch. Then after cleaning, I replace some of this missing stones. For this I selected aqua stones to tie into her colour scheme and to have the 'something blue' element. Additional clear rhinestones with a rainbow finish echoed the original stones.


The next step was to create the beadwork. My client was wearing silver jewellery so we opted for a mixed metal look using silver wire on her gold brooch. Each layer of beadwork was added before 'stitching' the piece onto a metal comb.


My bride was thrilled with the completed piece.



Other examples of how brooches have been used in bespoke designs incorporating beadwork metal leaves and flowers, handmade chain and resin leaves:



 

4. Other vintage jewellery including buckles, clips and earrings

art deco style headpiece made with vintage brooch and earring set

Vintage earrings (pierced or clip on) are great for reworking into new earrings but also layering with other focal pieces on headpieces. A brooch and earring set is wonderful for reworking together as the same motifs are carried throughout - as you can see in this side headpiece which had an art deco vibe. Belt buckles, dress clips, shoe clips generally come in pairs also meaning they can be used in the same way.


one of a kind bridal earrings handmade with reworked vintage belt buckle

These bespoke earrings have been created for a bride who is having a beautiful beach wedding on the shores of Sri Lanka. The vintage belt buckle had the fixings removed, was filed, cleaned and then had the stone settings tightened to ensure the focal stones were safe. Beadwork in the bride's favourite tones were added creating chandelier style drops. Modern glass stud fittings were the final flourish.




 

If you are interested in one of a kind reworked vintage jewellery but do not have your own pieces then you can shop my collection which is ready to ship right away.

Or if you are interested in a bespoke commission feel free to take a look at the following frequently asked questions or pop me a message to start your bespoke journey.


 

Frequently asked questions about reworking vintage jewellery

1. How much does it cost to remodel my own jewellery?

I'm afraid this is a question a bit like 'How much for a red car?'. It will completely depend on the design, what needs to be done with your own vintage pieces, the amount of additional materials and how long it will take to make. However consultations are free so I am always happy to chat to you about your vintage jewellery and discuss possible design ideas. I can then give you a no obligation quote based on what you want making.


2. How long does it take to make?

Again it will depend on what your design is. Some jewellery items I can make within an hour - large crowns etc can be several days. With my bridal work I make in order of wedding date but you will always get your piece at least 1 month before your wedding. Should you have a hair trial booked I try my best to accommodate this so you can have your accessory for your trial. If I am unable to make your piece for your trial we can discuss loaning items which will be similar to your design.

If you do not need your piece for a specific date then I will discuss a timeframe with you based on my availability and the time of year.


3. When should I book in for a custom make?

If for a wedding then as soon as you have chosen your outfit ideally. That way we can discuss any details that are on your outfit that can be drawn into your design. However my custom design appointments are limited and so you are able to reserve a making slot with a £50 holding fee and then we can have a design consultation once you've chosen your outfit.


4. Is there any jewellery items that can not be reworked?

Most items can be. Personally I like to wire everything together rather than use glues which means I would look for holes or gaps which I can 'sew' through. It may be if there are no obvious points I would look for places where I could drill small holes to allow wire to pass. I am always happy to take a look at your sentimental pieces to discuss with you what can be done. Rarely have I been unable to use something.


5. When would I need to let you have my sentimental jewellery?

Ideally I need to see your jewellery item in order to come up with a design. Often photos, or seeing it during an online or in person consultation allows me to have a good look at it meaning I would only ask for it to be sent to me once I'm ready to work on it. On occasion I would ask for the item to be sent to me in order to quote. I am happy to send it back to you prior to working on it but I would ask you cover the cost of postage.


6. Do you work with gold and precious stones?

Although having lots of experience working with silver, I am not a qualified goldsmith so I will not melt metals down and reset stones. However if there is a way of using your stones in their original settings I will happily do this. I have reworked diamond brooches and opals set in gold previously. Just pop me an enquiry and we can discuss this.


7. What happens with the left over bits?

When remodelling and sentimental jewellery I always return the pieces not used back to my clients. When working with precious metals such as gold or silver I will even give clients all the little offcuts such as brooch pins or empty settings so that they can be melted down for future projects. With costume jewellery offcuts are recycled along with my other metal scrap. Beads are kept together and returned.


8. Do you repair vintage jewellery?

I primarily rework broken jewellery into new designs but on occasion I have replaced stones and tightened settings in existing vintage tiaras etc. I'm afraid I haven't the capacity to take on small repair jobs such as replacing catches, mending earring hooks etc. Do feel free to message me to see if I can help you though.


9. How will I know if I'm going to like my reworked vintage accessory?

When working on your design I will send you regular updates with photos. That way you can see how it is coming together and we can make changes to the design as we go along. Should you dramatically change your design it may be that I need to re-quote.


"If you are looking for a bespoke piece for a special event, look no further. Janie is so unbelievably talented and I am so happy with my beautiful hair piece. She kept me updated with the design process - matching colours and design with my wedding dress and flowers. I got so many compliments about my hair piece all day - even the package it’s presented in is beautiful. Thank you Janie - there are no words x" Ellie


10. What happens if I do not like my design or change my mind?

Hopefully by having the regular photo updates you will be happy with your final design. However, should you really not be happy then we would discuss a new design. Unfortunately items such as brooches which have had fixings removed can not be put back to their original form.

If I have started work on your piece and you change your mind and want to cancel your order I will return your sentimental item in its current state (e.g with brooch fittings removed etc). When working with beads these can be rethreaded but you would be invoiced for the time and materials in doing so.

I will always let you know once I am about to work on your item so you can let me know if you have changed your mind prior to me removing fittings etc.


If you want to find out more about my bespoke process and want to arrange a consultation you can find out more on my 'go bespoke' page.


How to use your own sentimental jewellery in modern bridal accessories

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