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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. Siobhan Greene says:

    I love the end results! Your Christmas tree is fab!
    I just told a friend I am hunting for THE piece of velvet to begin mine….for next year! I have gathered broken jewelry and the single earrings from my Granny and other special ladies in my family. I will share when complete! Yes, crafting is cheaper than therapy!

  2. Karen from Philly says:

    Oh My Gosh, Pam…Your creativity is ASTOUNDING. I could study the pictures of your ornament wreaths and now this jewelry tree till I’m blue in the face and still have NO IDEA how you do this. I admire your abilities with shapes and color and am truly humbled by your spatial relationship skills! Beeeeuuuutiful results on your heirloom jewelry tree!

  3. This is just magnificent, Pam! Very artfully done. But remember, all, to WEAR — or let your wife/girlfriend wear — the intact (or even mostly-intact) vintage pieces you were lucky enough to find or inherit. I wear my grandmother’s and great-aunt’s costume jewelry with pride and am rewarded w/many compliments and started-conversations. (One season several years back, there was a short-lived fad of pinning big brooches on fabric handbags; I’m set if that comes back in style.) Anyway, thanks for sharing your wizardry — love this!

  4. Bonnie says:

    This is one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen. Now I remember why I’ve been looking for broken and costume jewelry in flea markets for the past two years!

  5. Julie Cole says:

    Pam,
    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?

  6. 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….

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