Building your own necklace from vintage jewelry pieces is a great way to develop a signature style. At Little Yellow Couch, we're always interested in the question: "What makes me tick?" We approach this by figuring out what combinations of color, pattern, material and style best reflect our ideas of beauty. When you wear a piece of jewelry that you've designed, you're sharing a very personal representation of your aesthetic, which in turn, gives you that signature style we're talking about. For our "Found" theme, we went hunting for vintage brooches, pins, earrings and chains from which we could repurpose several necklaces that illustrate the approach we take to design.
We started with 5 pieces we thought would compliment each other in terms of color and material. The two different styles of clip-on earrings shared a saturated coral hue. Two of the brooches contained pearls while the third was made of white enamel. All of the pieces had brass or gold bases. We'll use them in different combinations to create different styles of necklaces. We chose three different chains to work with, two long and one short. All of them had visual interest on their own.
BUILDING A PENDANT NECKLACE
A pendant necklace on a long chain looks great with a number of different tops. You can wear them over a turtleneck in the winter, with our without a second, shorter necklace if you like a layered look. Or you can wear one over a plain t-shirt or blouse in the summer. Because of the long chain, they can work with pretty much any neckline. For this pendant, we pinned the brooch through two of the loops in the chain and then clipped the earring through the chain onto the center of the brooch.
BUILDING A SYMMETRICAL NECKLACE
Karen and I tend toward asymmetry when it comes to our personal aesthetic, both in our homes and in what we wear. However, there are times when we crave a little balance and we know plenty of other people find a great deal of beauty in symmetry. For this necklace, we pinned the leaf and pearl brooch in the center of the chain and two of the clip-on earrings on either side. The center piece acts as a neutral in-between the pops of color. Even though the earrings are different, they still give the necklace symmetry because of their shape and color. We used a shorter chain on this necklace which means it would sit beautifully above the neckline of a top. It would be particularly lovely over a squared neckline because of the way the center brooch is laying horizontally.
BUILDING A STATEMENT NECKLACE
We admit we're not ones to shy away from making a statement. No one is going to accuse us of minimalism when it comes to our aesthetic, although we do do a lot of editing whenever we're creating something. You just might not know it without seeing our first drafts! Whenever you have multiple pieces coming together, it looks best with a touch of asymmetry so that it looks organic. So we've put two of the coral color pieces on one side while the other side has one coral and one white. The upper most piece is actually one brooch and one earring layered on top of each other (just like we did for the pendant). The overall pattern is white, coral, pearl, coral, coral, pearl, which has a pleasing visual rhythm. You just have to play around with your collection of pieces until you find a composition that works with your own sense of style. A statement necklace looks fantastic with the classic Little Black Dress or whenever you're feeling your dressiest. Oh, and most statement necklaces work best when done on a short chain. You don't want all of that bling bouncing around above your stomach!
BUILDING AN ASYMMETRICAL NECKLACE
This one might just be my personal favorite because I'm partial to very obvious asymmetry in design. And I love the layered look of doubling up the chain into two lengths. We were able to do this by keeping the chain in place with the leaf and pearl brooch. Notice the brooch itself is asymmetrical when it's used vertically. The pop of color and the circular shape of the coral earring give the leaves a starting place. And the pearls that are spread out along the chain work beautifully to give the whole necklace an energetic flow. I'd pair this number with a sexy silk blouse and hit the town, day or night.
We'd love to see anything you've created, be it a necklace, ring, bracelet or some other accessory! If you have any questions, thoughts, tips or tricks to share regarding using vintage jewelry to make something new, please share in the comments below!
xoxo Zandra & Karen June