Monday, May 2, 2011

How to Make Convertible Brooch Pendant Necklaces

By on Monday, May 02, 2011 16 Comments

Brooches are back! No wonder as they are such versatile pieces.They can be used as pins for clothes and scarves or to decorate bags. But if you're not a brooch person, consider making them into pendants instead!

As Art Beads' latest blogging partner challenge was all about designing with something vintage or old, mixing in with new elements, I jumped at the chance to create convertible brooch pendant necklaces using vintage brooches from our family collection.

These beautiful brooches once belonged to my sister-in-law who died of pancreatic cancer a few years ago. She not only loved jewelry but she also had a good eye for great designs. She bought them secondhand from British charity shops over several years.

I've no idea how truly old these are but I am guessing the star brooch is vintage because it is a marcasite piece - note the yellowish faceted "stones". Marcasite jewelry is not really made from the mineral marcasite but iron pyrite or fool's gold.  It was popular back in Victorian times and during the Art Nouveau period.

The man in the moon brooch has rhinestones and an opal set in pewter (I think). My sister-in-law also appreciated hand made jewelry such as the marquetry wood brooch at the back. The artisan created this amazing piece by joining two main pieces of wood - only the front piece is domed.

I originally wanted to design only with the star brooch and ordered some Swarovski crystals to add sparkle and color.  As it was a vintage piece, I also selected some antique brass items including a lovely diamond shaped filigree number.

When I got the supplies, my original idea went out the window and the project expanded to include 3 brooches! The smaller orange colored crystals were not used after all and will be saved for a future post.

Here are 3 easy ways to make convertible brooch pendants :

1. Slip It On
The brooch could be slipped over the antique brass filigree marrying two designs and creating a new look. However, as the brooch tilted forward, I first added in a small and discrete jeweler's bronze wire coil to stop this from happening.

The combined focal was ornate so I added only the antique brass chain. The brass bead caps went on a clear crystal bead which was then added as a dangle at the back of the necklace.

Vintage Starburst Necklace
2. Hang it
If the brooch design allows it to be hung as a pendant, then make a wire coil hanger for it. I first coiled some wire on a mandrel then slipped it on the pin section of the brooch. One wire end was then made into a simple loop and then trimmed.  Add a jump ring and connect to the necklace. The brooch can easily be unpinned and removed from the hanger.

The beautiful clear crystals and sterling silver balls from Art Beads were teamed with midnight blue and metallic grey crystal beads from my own bead collection. The sterling silver wire wrapped beaded sections were augmented by various zinc beads and matched to a zinc bail. The sterling silver extension chain was a leftover from a previous Art Beads project.

The Man in the Moon Necklace

3. Pin it
My older daughter liked the wooden brooch a great deal and chose the beads to compliment it including the large topaz Swarovski crystals from Art Beads. I wire crocheted 3 strands and braided them together. The brooch could then be pinned through the wires. She preferred the brooch to be vertical rather than horizontal. Another option could have been a multi-stranded chained necklace. This particular brooch was suitable only for the middle of the necklace but I am sure some other brooches could be pinned asymmetrically.

Autumn Colors Necklace
It is usually my policy to donate challenge pieces for sale with the proceeds going to cancer research. However, an exception has to be made in this case as the brooches are highly sentimental.  The necklaces will remain with my family. They are a wonderful way for my daughters to remember their aunt.


Before You Go :
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. Pearl, I really loved this post. (Well, I love all your posts...) As you may remember I redesign jewelry as a passionate hobby and I picked up some great tips from you today! Your redesigns are absolutely wonderful!!

    I don't normally post links to my blog, but here is a redesign I called Hathor's Crown:

  2. This is a wonderful post Pearl...I love what you've done with these pieces...I've been talking about re-doing "old" jewelry with my daughter for some time now...seems to be time!

    Thanks for sharing...

  3. I love these ideas Pearl, as always you have come up with something unique!!
    I have been making "flowers" and attaching them to bracelet frames or hanging them from a chain, now I have some ideas about making them into a broach.
    Thanks again.

  4. Cate, thanks for posting that link so others can see what a great layered design you came up with!

    I'm glad the post has inspired you!

  5. Love these! I know there are special findings available that will make the conversion but I like how you've adapted your pieces.

  6. Where there is a will, there is a way! The DIY route saves having to buy those special findings!

  7. Pearl your s-i-l had great taste in jewelry, her brooches are as relevant today as they were when they were created.

    I love how each piece turned out and am mesmerized by how lovely the piece you made for your daughter is - the choice of stones and the colors are just spot on - beautiful !

    Years ago I tried being a sales associate for Sarah Coventry, one of the things I liked about their line of jewelry was the versatility of their pieces. Pendants came off to be worn as brooches, necklaces had sections that could be removed to make them shorter and the shorter section sometimes could be worn as a bracelet, etc. So I really enjoy the multi purpose aspects of your redesigned pieces. I also think your wire wrapped brooch converters are fantastic as the ones you buy only come in set sizes so if it is not a good fit the pin slides around on it and the brooch ends up lopsided or tilting forward.

  8. Good designs always stand the test of time as they say. We are so lucky to have such beautiful mementos to remember my SIL by. My daughter is indeed very pleased with that colorful necklace.

    The convertible approach is the only way to have both options. I would hate to see a brooch back removed if it is isn't necessary to do so.

    Yes, I do love the versatility of some of the vintage lines. The Belle Époque jewelry was also known for the same reason as you pointed out for Sarah Coventry costume jewelry.

  9. Not only are these pieces beautiful, the story is beautiful! Keeping memories alive is very important. I especially love the crocheted wire piece (the colors are great).

  10. What cool ideas! I especially like the one with the Moon on it. Very clever way to convert a pin!

  11. Some great ideas here! I have a couple brooches that belonged to my mom, you have me thinking .. !

    And I love your brooch/pendants - especially that first one - gorgeous!

  12. What wonderful pieces. I thought that I was totally in love with the first one and then I saw the second one. Your ideas really updated the broaches and made some wonderful memory pieces.

  13. Pretty! I might have to take apart a few of my bracelets to try one of these!

  14. So creative and really beautiful.
    Your sister in law would be so happy that your daughters are now enjoying her treasured pieces.

    By all means you can feature my work as long as a link is included.
    Thank you SO very much.

    Be blessed.

  15. Thank you, Pearl, for another amazing idea!


  16. I'm glad I decided to come and have a look at this post Pearl.

    What you've done with these pins is phenomenal!

    I especially love the huge wooden pin! It's gorgeous!

    Our family business was a coat store and when our Mother died we shut it down. I have a box of left-overs that I couldn't part with pins that we sold. They are very precious to me - all rhinestones and glitter.

    I have looked at them many times never knowing what I would do with them but thanks to you now I know I can wear them with different outfits.

    I virtual hug to you my friend!