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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Repurposed Earring Becomes a Ring

I purchased a lot of old jewelry on Ebay recently. Some was trash and a few pieces were interesting enough to warrant a second life as components in new made work. If you read the magazines about jewelry making you will see many pieces utilizing vintage material. Some of my Internet friends are telling one another they should feel guilty for using old jewelry components in new work. They say that it should be left to the collectors to enjoy. Sometimes I will agree if the piece is ultra valuable and shows current high sales at auctions, Ebay or Etsy. Most often what we see is not selling for much and is really not rare. Production volume is hard to determine exactly but you can research how long a certain piece was made and how popular it is and was. This is true for signed or unsigned pieces. Lets be honest every piece was made by someone and just because a trademark was applied it is not an indication of rarity or value. To me collectors are just fancy hoarders who don't often share what they have hidden away from the world. This goes equally for fine art collectors and for bottle cap collectors. And jewelry collectors are often the same. With the advent of Pinterest we are getting some peeks into the closets and drawers of some of the collectors and that is wonderful.
 Back to this piece, it is an unsigned vintage 1940-1960s looking cast plated rhinestone earring. Well made, with a pressed on screw back which I removed. Since it is about the same general diameter as the adjustable shank bezel ring I decided to place the earring setting into that. It is not round however. So taking a flex-shaft tool with a diamond wheel, I cut a notch in the side to accommodate the protruding curve .

This leaves room for the wires to flow out through the bezel .

This shows a bit more of the curve.

I smoothed the cut with a half round file then applied a large glob of E 6000 glue to hold the set.

The finished ring has a nice low profile and shows off the work of the original designer in a new way. Re using jewelry components is a good way to create new work and honor the original.  This could be duplicated with wire and settings soldered together, but if I were going to do that..I would create my own new design , not replicate something old. Repeating the past doesn't always add to the artistic dialog. Whether you reuse, repurpose, or cannibalize vintage jewelry is up to you. But if you buy it, it is yours, and never feel guilt about making something new from vintage..who knows..those "collectors" may like you reinterpretation better and value it more than the original. Enjoy creating with vintage components.


  1. Harry, I love your comments about using, re-using, re-purposing old jewelry - vintage or not, and whether we should feel guilty about doing so. If the new design enhances the beauty or revitalizes the original design with a modern twist, then why not? Otherwise, it may languish in the back of a drawer, closet or in a box somewhere until such time as the owner passes... then where to?

    Anyway, this is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the process on this ring. :)

  2. I like your ring and I'm going through old jewelry as I speak.

  3. I like your ring a lot, but I am wondering why you chose to set it inside a bezel style ring form instead of on a pad style so you could see the sides of the component. It looks lovely the way it is - but was just wondering if it would not have been secure enough that way?? I've never done this - but I have lots of vintage jewelry components and E6000!

  4. It turns out really beautiful. And I guess it is one great way to repurpose an old jewelry. Thanks for sharing this idea. I love to try this to some of my old jewelries too.