Bucket list: I make a vintage costume jewelry Christmas tree — get my tips!

costume jewelry christmas treeI’ve been collecting broken vintage costume jewelry for several years — with the goal to make a lifetime-achievement crafty: A costume jewelry Christmas tree. This weekend I gathered all my supplies, took over the dining room, and got down to gluing. This project was not easy — like making ornament wreaths, it’s another effort in juggling colors and shapes in three dimensions — made all the more stressful by the fact that it takes a lot more jewelry than you think. That said, I’m pretty darned happy with the result! 

Scene of the crime. Things to collect over time to make this project possible:

  • Broken costume jewelry.
  • Vintage picture frames.
  • Vintage velvet.

make jewelry christmas treeArtsy fartsy.

jewelry christmas tree

Voila! My weebit has a new mommy-heirloom!

My Tips:

  • Jewelry pliers or a set of very wide tweezers are important to have on hand. Note: Links to Amazon net me a wee commission if ya end up buying something.
  • Golly, you never knew how handy it would be to have so many old broken pearl necklaces in your stash. I find these at most every estate sale. Use the pearls — all sizes, all designs, all colors and sheens — to fill in the in-between spots.
  • I thought about it first and decided I preferred to not have a “straight” edge to the right- and left-hand sides of the tree. I think it’s more interesting that way. To start, I created my “outline”. Then, I filled in from there.
  • Think about your colorway: I wanted the tree to be primarily gold. But then, I realized that I did not have enough jewelry — big pieces — to fill in the tree. So I began to add light green, which I thought worked well because gold has some green in it.
  • As you go, keep scanning the tree clockwise, starting at the bottom left, to ensure you are creating focal points, combining colors, “breaking your edge”, and then “building up” in a way that keeps your eyes moving — in way that gives the piece visual dynamism.
  • Take it slow. I came back to my wreath probably 10 times over three days to keep working on it. I’ll bet that I worked at least 10 hours on it. My goal-mode when I do projects like this is to Enjoy The Process. So I take my time. It’s cheaper than therapy.
  • Next: I am going to paint up the frame a bit more, and probably add some bling to it, too. And, I will reorganize all the jewelry left into colors and decorative pieces so that I can assess what I need to look for in the coming year as I prowl estate sales. 
  • Throw out all my rules — and make your own!

More link love:

  1. Bev Elko says:

    Thank you for sharing your directions and the glue you used. I always admired this jewelry art and how creative and artistic the crafters are. I just gave a try on one piece. Nothing like yours . It is drying now since it took me a while to attempt the gluing. I did a panda using silver,black and mother of pearl with touches of green .

  2. Julie Cole says:

    Your vintage jewelry Christmas tree is stunning! While I appreciate the instructions, I know mine would never turn out as beautiful as yours. Any chance you this tree or a similar one is for sale?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Julie, thank you! Mine is not for sale, it’s already ensconced as a family heirloom.

      I suggest you head to etsy.com — there are several/numerous designers making these, many are quite gorgeous. Tip: Look for great composition — and be willing to pay because quite often, you get what you pay for….

      1. Viviane says:

        Go to the thrift store and buy a frame, and jewelry. Back it with velvet. Start placing the jewelry down and take a pictures. It’s easier then u think. Make sure you cut the backs off the pieces so they lay flat. Start at the base and Create it’s easy. I’ve made also a wreath out of Xmas wreaths.

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