Over the last few years I’ve managed to make myself the repository for friends’ and family’s broken and unwanted jewellery. I deconstruct the pieces and salvage useful beads, charms and bits of chain. This is very satisfying, as I like reusing things and giving them a new lease of life, plus you never quite know what you’re going to find. When you visit quite a lot of bead shops, as I do, you end up seeing the same stuff over and over, so it’s always nice to get something a bit different.
In return I do simple repairs and alterations. My sister-in-law recently bought me a fairly hefty pile of necklaces that my baby nephew had pulled off from around her neck. High street fashion jewellery is not always terribly durable but it’s usually very easily fixed with a pair of pliers, a few jump rings, tiger tail and crimp beads. It took me less than 15 mins to get all her necklaces back in working order.
I do also occasionally pick up some nice second hand stuff in flea markets and charity shops. I don’t do this as much as I probably should. My best haul was a very inexpensive mixed bag from a flea market in Woolwich, London, which included many lovely vintage crystal beads and small pieces of coral. I would never buy new coral because of the damage it causes to the marine environment, so it’s nice to get to re-use old pieces. The beads were in a pretty grimy state with bits of old string stuck to them, so I soaked them in water with washing-up liquid and rinsed them off well. The coral pieces became dull during this process, so I gave them a little coat of varnish to brighten them up.
My most recent find was this choker necklace from a charity shop for £1.25. It’s rather a nice piece, but not my style so I’ll break it up for the parts. There are a good quantity of seed beads in black and silver, but the thing that caught my eye were the substantial steel end pieces. I’ve never seen any quite like them before.