Sunday, May 10, 2015

Upcycled Vintage Rhinestone Earrings - From My Grandmother's Collection

Last week I went to say good-bye to my grandmother who passed away just three weeks shy of her 103rd birthday. The service was inspirational and was truly a celebration of her long and meaningful life.

Although it is impossible to completely capture the essence of her life, I feel compelled to at least note some of life highlights of my Grandmother - Creola May Starnes:

  • Born in Arkansas in 1912. 
  • Moved with her family to North Carolina in her early teens.
  • Married at age 15 to my Grandfather and raised five children - my mother being the oldest.
  • Spent countless hours volunteering and being active in her church.
  • Earned a business degree while in her forties - keep in mind this was in the 1950's when many women did not go to college much less consider getting a business degree.
  • Established the first church daycare center in the city of Kannapolis, NC because she saw a need for working mothers to have access to child care.
  • After raising their five children, she and my Grandfather moved to Winston Salem, NC and served several years as house-parents for adolescent parentless boys.
  • Retired and moved to Waxhaw, NC where she became an advocate for seniors and their caregivers.
  • Obtained certification in Gerontology from Livingstone College and served as President of the Union County NC Chapter of AARP.
  • Retired a second time at age 78 and became caregiver for my Grandfather who had developed Alzheimer's - she cared for him until his death in 1989.
  • After surviving her husband's death, she lived another 26 years until the age of 103.  Her legacy continues through her 16 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

I like to try to keep the memory alive of those who I have known and loved. I was fortunate enough to be given some of my Grandmother's old vintage jewelry. And I decided that I would like to repurpose some of these treasures so that I could wear and cherish them while continuing to honor her life for years to come.

This pair of vintage clip-on rhinestone earrings has lots of history and I could not bear thinking of these pretty pieces just sitting somewhere in a drawer. So I decided to convert them into a pair of post earrings that I could wear and enjoy and remember my Grandmother every time I wear them.  Here is what they originally looked like:

The first thing I had to do was to remove the screw-on clips. I did this by snipping them with a pair of wire cutters, then filed off the rough edges with a jewelry file. This is how they look with the backs snipped off and filed:

Next, I found a pair of post earrings to set the rhinestone dangles onto. I liked these pretty antique silver posts that I bought from

Then I used E-6000 glue to attach the dangles onto the posts.  I use E-6000 for any jewelry project requiring glue because it holds forever - and I do mean forever! The only tricky part was finding a way to hold the posts upright and flat in order to give time for the glue to set - it takes 24 hours for E-6000 glue to set.  So it is important to find a way to stabilize it while it sets. 

What I came up with was folding and taping a piece of bubble wrap, then sticking the posts down into the bubble wrap. Then I used a dab of glue (it only takes a dab) to adhere the rhinestone dangles onto the posts. To make sure there was good adherence I placed a piece of tape across the top of the earrings and let it set for 24 hours:

And after 24 hours, here is what they looked like:

I am quite pleased with the outcome and can't wait to wear them!  I just love the idea of wearing something that my Grandmother once wore.

I will not be selling this pair of earrings, but I have lots of other items for sale in my two Etsy shops: