Reworking unworn jewellery – a real-life case study

One thing I love about selling my necklaces at craft fairs like @westgatehallcanterbury is chatting with visitors. I can explain how my journey from reworking unworn jewellery for myself turned into Bijou Rebooted, encouraging others to look at their own jewellery with fresh eyes.

Reimagining my clothes, jewellery or furniture has always been a way of life for me. The challenge of reusing possessions and extending their lifespan has always been the ignition for my creative side, so it’s very pleasing to see this outlook evolve into a worldwide movement. Over the years I’ve met so many similarly minded individuals and am thrilled to be a part of the international collaboration which is the @rejewelcollective. Each jewellery designer and maker within this collective works exclusively with preloved jewellery, unlocking its potential in wonderfully imaginative ways. Creating something desirable from something abandoned.

But I digress, I wanted to tell you what happened recently.

Last month I met a lovely lady at the Westgate Hall craft fair in Canterbury who was intrigued by the fact that I worked solely with items with a previous life. She told me she’d inherited a lot of costume jewellery from her mother-in-law, most of which was broken or damaged. She didn’t know what to do with it and was on the verge of throwing it out as it was all virtually unwearable. She was thrilled at the prospect of giving it to me instead.

With that she left, and I heard nothing further, so, imagine my surprise when she came up to me at this month’s fair and deposited three rather large boxes crammed with costume jewellery on my table. To someone else this collection of tangled, damaged and broken items might not have seemed like much, but to my eyes Christmas had come early. This was a treasure trove. I could hardly stop myself from hopping up and down and couldn’t wait to get home to have a proper look.

reworking unworn jewellery collection of donated jewellery

Most of the broken necklaces had been placed in envelopes, many with 1970’s postmarks (a mere 50 years!), whilst others were in a very old bunion plaster box no less.


I particularly loved the British Made Nylcord “stronger than silk” thread. It was like being taken back in time.


But, back to the present, the first things needed doing are the practical things. I’ve removed the old clasps, damaged strings and wires, and have given everything a good clean. The beads have been sorted by colour and size and design ideas have already started tumbling over each other. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

But, first things first, as this donation was so generous, I couldn’t accept it without offering something in return, so I suggested making a necklace as a thank you. The lady’s personal preference was a necklace using the faux pearls, so this is the first thing I made – I’ll let you know what becomes of the other items as I go along.

reworking unworn jewellery, example of a real life case study


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