Upcycling Jewellery

Have you considered repurposing older jewellery pieces in new designs? I'm always on the lookout for pieces that can be 'upcycled' by using them in new designs.

You can make your jewellery unique and one of a kind by incorporating 'found' items in your work.

Places to look for 'found' items include:

1 - Your local 'op shop' or thrift store.

Often there has been jewellery donated, that can be taken apart and pieces incorporated into newer designs. I often look for brooches in particular, as these can be stunning focals in pendant designs.  This piece I designed in 2019 uses a 'face brooch', found in my local 'op shop', that I removed the clasp from the back, and incorporated it into this one off statement necklace. 


2 - Your Mum's or Grandma's Jewellery Box

My Grandma was a great lover of jewellery, and I used to love playing dress ups with her pieces. She loved all types of jewellery - and her prized possessions were often pieces that had been hand crafted. I know she had a necklace made from paper clips and contact that was a favourite! A piece that I've held onto of hers was this ancient Oriental looking brooch. I'm not sure of the origin of this, but this one will make a great focal piece on a pendant some day soon! Pic of my Grandma Doris and Grandpa Wes - they both were in hospital together for a wedding anniversary and this pic was in the Herald Sun! 


3 - Discount Jewellery Stores

You know the type of store, where there are stands and stands of costume and fashion jewellery available. I love to raid those stores primarily for two things - tassels and chains. When they have big sales, I buy up big on the tassel earrings - taking them apart, recycling the earring findings, and using the tassels in my beaded tassel earrings. The other bargain you can get there is chain.  Often at the end of a season, necklaces (with chains) are sold at very cheap prices, and I like to reuse the chain on my necklace pieces. 

4 - Your own jewellery stash

If you've got a piece that maybe you love part of it, but not all, take it apart and reuse it in a new piece. As a jewellery maker for over 15 years, when I look at some of my earlier designs, I've used components that I've loved, but not the finished look. I'm quite happy to take the scissors to it and reuses those lovely rivoli beads and crystals in a design that is more pleasing to me now, than it was back when I first started.

5 - Collaboration with other artists

One way of changing up your own style and boosting another artist is to collaborate and 'upcycle' a joint piece. I enjoy working with other artists, especially polymer clay and glass artists, and using their pieces in my designs. Here are some of the lovely artists I've been working with, and some of their pieces in my work.


If you got another way of 'upcycling' your jewellery, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Share a pic of your upcycled jewellery on my On A String facebook page 👓

And of course, if you have a special 'found' piece you'd like to see brought to life in a new jewellery item, contact me. I love making custom pieces, especially when there is a special or sentimental item involved. This is a piece I made some years ago for my sister in law, using a vintage enamelled brooch from her Grandma. 


In the meantime, I'm off to check out the jewellery section of my local Vinnie's op shop! 

Till next time,



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1 comment

  • I loved reading this. I love doing all of these things and sometimes I feel like I’m being really mean buying up old things, especially when selling it turned into a new piece, like I’m being dishonest about something and I should explain what I’ve done.
    I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone in doing this. I’m in the UK and we have brilliant charity shops, I love searching out the old jewellery, it’s quite exciting. 🙂 Thanks for all the brilliant snippets of information and advice you write.


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