Restyling beaded necklaces

necklaces before after with words

BEFORE: All three are too long and one is the wrong color. AFTER: All three have been shortened. The black and chrome necklace is now mustard yellow. Red and yellow necklaces have had earrings made and the blue one, as you can see, matches perfectly the earrings Grandma brought me from Arizona.

I love costume jewelry, especially graduated bead necklaces. I inherited a bunch from my great aunt but with all the strange new colors working their way into my wardrobe I have “needed” some new ones. Big, ugly plastic jewelry in garish colors is called “statement jewelry” these days – but the prices, if you ask me, are not in keeping with the garishness and plasticity of the pieces. (Then again, I am pretty cheap.) So I kept my eyes peeled at the thrift stores and scored: three beaded necklaces in one day and each one less than $3.00 each!

(What follows is not intended as a tutorial. I totally have no idea what I’m talking about. There are plenty of online resources for learning easy jewelry making and repair. I am so not one of them.)

I busted out my little set of jewelry tools from the craft store and went to work. I used an existing necklace from my collection (coincidentally, another thrift store score that I had shortened and made matching earrings for) to determine how many beads on either end of the necklaces needed to go.

Some of the beads needed a little sanding, like this one that has a factory flaw:

The black and chrome necklace was going to be spray-painted, so I restrung it very loosely on button and carpet threat and tied it to an old coat hanger.

Which I then hung in the forge and painted. (Side note: You know how the back of the spray paint can says to hold the can at least X inches from the surface to be painted? If you fail to do that – like me – you will get globby, rough texturing. Not cool.)

The blue necklace was a little easier. I just disassembled it, removed the little silver spacer beads, and restrung it at the length that I wanted. I already had matching earrings, so this one was done!

The dinner napkin keeps the beads from rolling off the table.

The red necklace needed to be shortened and have earrings made. Complicating this was the fact that it is made of multiple strands and strung on unwieldy plastic “thread”. I managed to get it down to size but I shortened all the strands equally so the necklace doesn’t lay quite right. After half an hour of arguing with the stiff plastic stringing material, however, I was more than happy to live with a little imperfection. Removed beads were saved for earrings.

I’m pretty low-tech so all my restringing was done on button and carpet thread (cheap, on-hand, needs no beading needle). I use the little bead-tip terminators that you thread your stringing material through and knot a bijillion times as ugly as you like and then squeeze shut. They really make this whole process less painful – as does the pliers set. For earrings I simply shove a headpin through a bead saved from the shortening process and attach it to an earring finding.

— Amanda


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