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.


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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