I saw my first framed vintage costume jewelry Christmas tree — pearls, rhinestones, brooches, earrings, bracelets, charms and pins all artfully arranged and glued onto black velvet — about 10 years ago when I visited my Dad’s hometown of Aneta, North Dakota. It was still hanging in the living room of an old friend of the family, who had made it decades earlier. She told me that back in the day, women saved their costume jewelry when it broke. (That explains why you sometimes see jars full of broken costume jewelry at estate sales.) Then, before the holidays, they would all get together and use the bits to make Christmas trees or crosses. I presume they traded its and bits. What a lovely art form.
Of course, absolutely mesmerized, I tried to buy the lovely, gracious woman’s costume jewelry Christmas tree, or the cross, right off the wall. She really seemed to consider my offer, possibly because she had never seen anyone go so crazy over something she’d made. In the end, though, she wouldn’t sell them. Fast forward 10 years, and of course I’ve been collecting lots of broken jewelry and have enough to do my own. Next year: I’m inviting a friend over for tree-making!
I was reminded of all this when several readers uploaded photos of their vintage costume jewelry Christmas trees in our weekend uploader — 375+ photos!!
Above: Naomi’s costume jewelry Christmas tree. She wrote:
“My fiance’s mother made this for him years ago… There are even lights on it!”
This is one of my most treasured pieces. It was made by a dear family friend using old costume jewelry from her aunt’s estate. Look closely and you will find old brooches, earrings, and charms that individually aren’t worth much but set together like this becomes an heirloom.
Here are two that I just saw in a retirement home lobby that a woman that lives there made ! Stunning in person !
Found mine at a flea market for $1. It’s one of my favorite decorations!
I adore these. Anybody who knows me knows aqua is my color so I’m so happy to have found this at a yard sale.
My grandmother used to make these and she’s no longer with us. So now I cherish mine even more.
I made one out of vintage family jewelry my mom gave me!
Above: Added by a mystery reader in a follow-up uploader. She/he said:
I saw the story about these, and I love the one I found a few years ago, so I thought I’d add to the collection – a little out of focus…
Above: Featured to our Facebook page and used here with permission. Mary says:
My mother-in-law made one for us utilizing my husbands grandmothers old costume jewelry. I think it’s wonderful! I wish I had one from my grandmother jewelry as well!
My Mom made this one. I will cherish it forever.
Above, reader Nancy Long said:
Close-up of the jewelry picture. The jewelry picture has tiny Christmas lights I found this at an antique mall about 10 years ago. I see something new every year.
And above, not a jewelry tree, but an embroidered tree that includes sequins. Such lovely needlecraft. Mystery reader said:
Look closely and you will see little white doves and snow flakes on the silver tree.