Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cameo & Freshwater Pearl Necklace

In my previous post, I uploaded photos of my purchases from last weekend's trip to the Old Town Tustin flea market.  In one of the photos was a group of cameo items that I found.  Today I finished making a necklace using one of the cameo brooches I purchased at the Tustin flea market.
Take a look at it below -
Here's how I made it-
 (Above)  My starting point was the vintage porcelain cameo brooch from the flea market.  I knew when I purchased it that it would become a focal piece in a necklace design.  I began rummaging through my materials for things that complemented the brooch, including genuine freshwater pearl beads (in the form of a broken necklace I had purchased), large vintage faceted crystal beads, floral bead caps, vintage glass seed beads, and clasp findings. 
(Note:  For a more detailed & complete list of all the materials and tools needed for this project, scroll to the bottom of today's post)
 (Above) I flipped over the brooch, grabbed my metal cutters, and clipped off most of the pinback.  I used a jeweler's file to smooth the rough edges on the metal that remained.
 (Above)  I cut two 22" pieces of 7-strand Beadalon stringing wire.  I began stringing the freshwater pearls, alternating with the vintage glass seed beads.
 (Above)  I stopped when I had about 8" of beads strung on each wire.
 (Above) I then took the two wires on the right hand side and put them both through a floral bead cap.  Then I added the large faceted crystal bead, and another bead cap.
 (Above)  I did the same thing on the left hand side.
 (Above)  Separating the wires again, I continued stringing the freshwater pearls with alternating seed beads, about another 4" on each side.
 (Above) I strung a clamshell bead tip onto both of the wires on the right hand side.  I slid on a crimp bead, and flattened the crimp bead with my pliers.  I trimmed off the excess wire and used my pliers to close the clamshell over the crimp bead.  I did the same thing on the left hand side, but before I flattened the crimp bead, I made sure that all the beads layed exactly how I wanted them and that there was no slack (no visible wire).  
 (Above)  I then added a jump ring and lobster clasp to one side, and about 3-1/4" of extending chain to the other side.
 (Above)  I slid a pearl on to a headpin, and trimmed the headpin shorter, leaving about 1/2" of  wire past the end of the pearl.  I took my round nose pliers and made a loop with the remaining 1/2" of wire.  I slipped the loop through the end of the extender chain and then closed the loop.
 (Above)  Now to attach the cameo to the necklace.  Find the center of the necklace, and position the cameo where you want it to hang. 
(Above)  Using beading thread, I began sewing the necklace to one side of my brooch.  I was lucky that this brooch has small holes in the metal, all around the perimeter, which allow me places to weave the thread through.  I kept weaving and knotting until I felt that it was strong enough to hold the heavy cameo in place.  On my final knots I added glue (G-S Hypo Cement) over the knots to secure them and then trimmed the thread.  Adding a strong glue is essential so that the knots don't unravel.

(Above) The brooch was sewn to the necklace on both sides. 

(Above) ...and voila!! The finished product!  If you are interested in making a similar necklace, below is a detailed list of the materials and tools needed.
Materials needed:
  • Vintage porcelain cameo brooch (I used a 1-3/4" brooch), or other cameo focal
  • 7 to 8mm freshwater pearl beads (about 85 to 90 beads)
  • Vintage clear glass seed beads (about 85 to 90 beads)
  • 20 to 22mm vintage faceted oblong clear crystal beads (2)
  • 11 to 12mm antiqued brass bead caps (4)
  • Antiqued brass clamshell bead tips (2)
  • 12mm antiqued brass lobster clasp (1)
  • 5mm antiqued brass jump rings (2)
  • Antiqued brass cable chain (a piece about 3-1/4" long)
  • Antiqued brass head pin (1)
  • Crimp beads (2)
  • Beadalon 7 strand nylon coated stainless steel beading wire, (2 pieces about 22" long)
  • White nylon beading thread
  • G-S Hypo Cement
Tools needed:
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Jeweler's file
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or tape measure


  1. hello friends

    i self glein maxwell , after reading your blog about freshwater pearl necklace , i am very happy


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