Convert brooch to necklace, great for saving vintage jewelry

Recently a friend brought me a small collection of vintage brooches that she had gathered over the years. Most had been passed down through the family and held sentimental value. But she found that she wasn’t getting much opportunity to wear a brooch and therefore wanted to have them converted to necklaces. I was glad to help convert brooch to necklace and save her vintage jewelry.

Upon inspection I saw that a couple of the brooches had a pendant bail integrated into the back of the piece, just above the pin. If you have a vintage pin, take a look at the back. Much jewelry was created to be convertible and will have another set of findings on the back. One of my own vintage brooches, in fact, can be used as a scarf slide.

This left three brooches which needed chains attached. Since these brooches are sentimental, I didn’t want to make any irreversible modifications that damaged them. The design of each brooch was very different, so I decided on a different approach for each.

Convert Brooch to Necklace 1

Vintage brooch that has been converted to a necklace with jump rings and chain.
The jump rings disappear nicely between the large stones of this brooch when I was able to convert brooch to necklace.

The large stones of this brooch give it a modern look so I chose a fairly large gauge ring chain for it. At first I tried using a brooch converter for this pin. Brooch converters are a small tube and bail designed to slide over the pin on the back of a brooch. But when worn the brooch would hang crooked and often flip upside down. Yuck. So plan B was to use jump rings nestled between the stones and attach the loops of the chain to those. I chose findings to match the tone of the metal brooch setting so the jump rings disappear visually when the necklace is worn.

Vintage brooch converted to a necklace, showing full view.
I picked a larger, more modern chain style for this brooch.

Brooch 2

Vintage brooch converted to a necklace with jump rings.
This brooch seemed to need a finer gauge chain.

The second brooch featured smaller stones and therefore needed a small gauge chain. I didn’t want to go with too fine of a chain, though, and this piece is quite heavy and needed some strength. I used jump rings which featured a twisted design to attach the chain to this pin. I had to play around a bit to decide the best orientation for this one. The placement of the pin on the back of this brooch suggested it is meant to be worn at a 45 degree angle. I thought a vertical arrangement looked best as a necklace pendant.

Decorative jump rings can be seen installed on this brooch, to convert it to a necklace.
Detail view showing how the decorative jump rings were added to the vintage brooch.

Brooch 3

Using a pinch bail to convert a vintage brooch to a pendant.
This brooch was converted to a pendant by using a pinch bail.

Now this one was different. The stones of this pin are not held in by prongs. They’re glued in. And the faux prongs stick up quite a lot which doesn’t leave much room for jump rings. I had to choose a different approach. I used a pinch bail that fit over the space between two stones on the side of the brooch. It actually works with the design because the smooth bail echoes the smooth lines of the three leaves.

Vintage costume jewelry brooch converted to pendant using a pinch bail.
The wearer can adjust the length of this chain from 18-20″ inches.

Closure

For flexibility in wearing options, I chose to create an adjustable length closure for these chains. To do this I added a 2″ section of larger gauge chain at the end so that the lobster claw clasp can attach at any point, giving a total length of 18″ to 20″. And just for a bit of pretty, I added a crystal drop bead at the end of the extension chain.

Extension chain on necklace, allowing it to be worn at different lengths.
To increase flexibility in wearing, I attached an adjustment chain to the clasp of these necklaces. Note the crystal drop bead.

There are many ways that I could have done this brooch conversion. But because I didn’t want to modify the brooches themselves by attaching anything permanently, I think the solutions that I picked work very well. I’m happy, my friend is happy, and I certainly learned a lot doing it.

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17 thoughts on “Convert brooch to necklace, great for saving vintage jewelry”

  1. my cousin works for a company that makes shoes, and their niche is they are simple and comfortable shoes with various attachments added that are made of metal, rhinestones, just an array of pretty stones. I began making jewelry less than a year ago, and she brought me boxes full of these attachments that the company no longer uses or something was damaged. I have been able to deconstruct some, but there are many others that I would like to convert to pendants, but I can’t figure out how. There are a lot that have no holes and have been soldered onto metal. They have a small piece on the center back they used to attach into a hole on the shoe. It’s like a short peg or very thick earring post is the best way I can describe it. I have tried using wire to wrap around the post and form a loop, but it doesn’t look good on the back, and I don’t like the idea of that post sticking out of the back and not only causing it not to lay right but possibly being uncomfortable. I am desperately needing help with a solution! I would hate to waste all these lovely pieces that I know I could turn into beautiful jewelry, if only I could figure out how to attach it. I don’t know how to solder, and though I would love to learn, buying the tools to do so right now is not an option. I started making jewelry as a way to use my creativity and to keep busy once I could no longer work because of spine injuries. That is why these pieces are such a blessing! Jewelry making can be an expensive hobby, so until my jewelry starts really selling, keeping the cost down is important. Repurposing is a thrifty way to make jewelry, but mostly I just really enjoy bringing new life to things. The other benefit is it ensures uniqueness of the jewelry. I have found your site helpful before, so I thought perhaps you could help me with this!
    Btw, sorry this is so long, lol.
    I would be very grateful for any ideas!
    Thank you,
    Hilary

    1. I’m sorry Hilary, I don’t know anything about this particular kind of finding and I’m not sure what the best solution would be. If you have a bead store in a town near you, you could try asking the people there if they know anyone who might have some suggestions. Or I’d check with Creative Bead Chat on Facebook. They have a lot of really creative people there who are very helpful.

  2. Thank you for this Ginger 🙂
    I have been collecting broches for the better part of 40 years now I started when I was 9 and now I am 51 so yep I have lots of broches and as you say the pin bale does not always work :-/ which I have since found out but you have given me a lot to think about now with a fresh look at them all now I will have to look thorough my jewellery making bits to see what I can come up with 🙂
    Sigh a new project 🙂 at least it will keep me busy 🙂
    Chow for now Angela

      1. Lol that’s so very true Ginger 🙂
        there are never enough hours in the day for me 🙂
        I was lucky when growing up Mum and Dad always introduced me to many new hobbies while growing up so that I could experiment all I wanted 🙂 some of the old ideas and ways now have new outlets with new mediums to be found 🙂
        I use to do enamelling back in the 70’s and it was smelly to do but lots of fun, but with the polymer clay I can now do the same thing without the 24-48 hour wait on it to dry 🙂
        I just have so many ideas but never enough time 🙂 but that is okay at least I never get board that is for sure and once my workshop is finished well I can then work on anything and just move on to the next while waiting for the inbetweens that you have with some hobbies, like baking and curing times and such like 🙂 leaves me free to work on something else for a while but I do have to remember to put my ideas down on paper so I don’t forget them 🙂

          1. Lol board I don’t have time to be, but I have a friend who is for ever compliaing about but won’t take up a hobbie, how can you live without a hobby or two, three man who am I kidding I have so many hobbies now I don’t have time for house work 🙂

  3. Thanks. I love transforming pieces that have just been lying around in a drawer into a piece that will be worn and appreciated. Your work looks great. Jeanne B

  4. Pingback: How to Convert Vintage Brooches into Necklaces | Brandywine Jewelry Supply Blog

    1. How do you make sure the pin doesn’t open? Particularly if you’ve used the method of sliding a vertical bail converter onto pin? Thanks!

  5. Great eye and creative problem solving make for lovely “new” pieces that will thrill their owner and have a whole different life in their new “reincarnated” design.

    1. Good. I’m glad they pass the visual test. I’d certainly wear them. And they looked so nice on that it inspires me to pick up some of these at estate sales for my own use. I like the first one best, myself. It’s bolder…like me, LOL.

  6. I love how you put your artistic self into this project. Hope the client is happy with the quality of thought and execution that you put into each brooch, each customized to maximize the impact of the finished piece.

    1. Well that’s the plan anyway. I actually enjoyed the challenge. It allowed me to think about things differently. Out of the box is always a good place to visit now and then.

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