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5 easy ways to give your unworn jewellery a new lease of life

Have you have ever looked in your jewellery box and felt overwhelmed by all the pieces you never wear? Maybe it's a necklace that was a gift, a pair of earrings that you bought on a whim or a ring you inherited that has never quite fitted properly? Whatever the piece and whatever the story behind it, there are plenty of creative ways to give your unwanted jewellery a new lease of life. From donating to charity to upcycling with DIY projects, there are plenty of options to help you get the most from your jewellery collection. Read on for my top 5 suggestions...

Above: taking care of your unworn jewellery can give it a new lease of life

1) Clean your jewellery to keep it looking good for longer

One of the main reasons we pass over a piece of jewellery in favour of another is that it looks a bit grimy and tarnished, but this is actually the simplest problem to solve!

Cleaning your jewellery is an important part of taking care of it and keeping it looking great. Not only will it make your jewellery shine, but it will also help to prolong its life. With regular cleaning, you can help to prevent tarnish and corrosion and keep it looking good for longer. It's important to use the right cleaning materials, such as a soft cloth, mild soap and warm water, and a polishing cloth.

Cleaning your jewellery regularly will also help to keep it free of dirt, oils, and other debris that can collect on it over time, causing dullness and damage. Taking the time to clean your jewellery will help to keep it looking great and ensure that it lasts for years to come. If you’d like some advice on how to put the sparkle back into your handmade jewellery then check out my blog post How do I clean my gold & silver jewellery?

2) Repair your broken jewellery

Beautiful and well-made jewellery is an investment. Whether it’s a family heirloom, a gift to mark a big occasion, or something you bought for yourself, with a bit of TLC those special pieces can be passed down for generations and worn for years to come. That’s why it really pays to take care of your jewellery and repair it when necessary.

Little and often is best! Making sure to regularly maintain your favourite pieces can keep them looking fresh and sparkly and prevent longer term damage that can be costly to repair. Often a new chain, clasp or earring back can make the difference between wearing something or not. Many high street jewellers have a repair service for more complicated projects so it’s always worth taking a piece in to see if they can help.

I offer a range of replacement pieces for my own Elin Horgan Jewellery designs through my Wear, Care & Repair service where you can buy new chains, earring backs and charms for any jewellery that you have purchased through me. I also provide a repair service for my own pieces, but please note that I do not undertake repair for items bought from other jewellers.

Above: Invest in some simple hoop earrings that you can use to hang charms from

3) Re-purpose your unworn jewellery

Repurposing unworn jewellery is one of my favorite ways to breathe life into old pieces. This is something that you can really play around with so let your imagination run wild and think about some new and interesting ways that you can wear things.

Do you have a ring that doesn’t fit? Maybe it could work as a pendant instead by threading it onto a long heavy gauge chain? Even just swapping the chain on a necklace for a different length or style will open up a whole range of possibilities. The Curious Gem has a good range of finished chains in varying styles and lengths or you could try a vintage jewellery shop or market stall where you can often pick up heavier chains relatively inexpensively.

If you have some small pendants or bracelet charms lying around then what about creating your own unique earrings by threading them onto some ear wires or a pair of hoops? A few pairs of ear wires in different metals or an ear threader with a loop at the bottom are an invaluable addition to any jewellery box. Open the loop by holding it firmly in a small pair of pliers and twisting it open at the seam.

Some simple hinged hoops (maybe even a few in different sizes?) are also a useful investment as you can easily add a charm or two to them. Don’t worry if they don’t match, odd earrings always look great and you can even mix gold and silver for an ultra-modern look. Have fun experimenting with what work best! Burrhouse stock a fantastic range of hoops in silver, gold plated silver and solid gold and Cookson Gold also have a good selection to choose from so you’re sure to find something to suit.

Above: re-modelling heirloom jewellery is a fantastic way to bring a special vintage piece bang up to date

4) Re-model your old jewellery

We all own those sentimental pieces of jewellery that mean so much to us, but really aren’t to our tastes and so remain unworn for years. Imagine how good it would be to let them live and be loved again. That’s where re-modellling comes in…it's the perfeect way to bring heirloom pieces bang up to date.

It could be as simple as re-setting a favourite gemstone in a new and modern setting or taking multiple pieces and melting them down to create one or more new designs. Many jewellers now offer this service as more and more people are choosing to have old pieces re-made. Do however be aware that re-modelling isn’t a way of getting a bespoke design on the cheap. There’s a lot of work involved in cleaning, cutting, melting down and re-rolling a piece so that it can be made into a new item so expect to pay accordingly.

5) Give away or sell your unwanted jewellery

If there’s something in your jewellery box that you really can’t see yourself wearing again then it might be time to think about giving it away or selling it. Good jewellery always stands the test of time so makes an amazing gift to future generations who might enjoy its vintage appeal. If you don't have anyone to gift it to directly then you could give your jewellery to charity. Charities such as the Alzheimer's Society and Water Aid even accept broken jewellery, but do check before donating to make sure you're giving them something that they can make use of.

If you’d rather sell a piece then it pays to do your homework. Precious metals can be sold for scrap, but you’ll get much more for a sellable piece of jewellery so shop around and ask for recommendations in your local area. A reputable jewellery shop should be able to advise you on what your pieces are worth.

I hope that’s given you some ideas of things you can do with those pieces that have fallen out of favour. After all there’s nothing sadder than a neglected jewellery just waiting to be picked up and worn. I'd love to hear your ideas too, so please do share any in the comments section below.

Elin Horgan designs and creates handmade jewellery in her Bristol studio. Elin’s beautifully simple handmade jewellery is carefully crafted and designed to be worn every day. You can read more about Elin’s work and the ethos behind her understated jewellery brand on her About Elin Horgan Jewellery page.

If you’d like to enquire about a specific product or discuss a custom piece of jewellery, please have a look at the Bespoke Handmade Jewellery page or email


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