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DIY Wedding Necklace: A Step-By-Step Guide

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 10/02/2011 3:45 pm EDT Updated: 01/23/2013 12:35 am EST

When Los Angeles-based fashion rep Jenny Ewing learned that her friend Julia was getting married, Jenny knew she wanted to give her something special to celebrate. “I had seen the dress she was going to wear that day and it was very beautiful, but a very simple silk silhouette,” Jenny says. “I knew that she would want something unique with a little bit of flair to go along with it, so I decided to make her a necklace.”

Jenny spent two months scouring vintage shops and flea markets, collecting rhinestone and pearl baubles that she could use to build a statement piece. She purchased bracelets, hair clips, earrings and even a tiny cobalt blue Mother Mary pendant (the “something blue,” in “old, new, borrowed and blue,” Jenny says). Then, she bought chain, links and jewelry tools to build the necklace. In total, she spent about $200 on her materials. She spent one to two hours every night for two weeks building the necklace.

HuffPost Weddings spoke to Jenny about crafting Julia’s necklace -- which, believe it or not, is the first piece of jewelry Jenny has ever made. Follow the step-by-step instructions in the slideshow below to build your own perfect wedding necklace.

To see more photos from Julia and Eric's beautiful wedding, check out this post at Style Me Pretty.

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  • Step One: Collect your baubles

    Jenny bought vintage pieces from the <a href="" target="_hplink">Rose Bowl Flea Market</a> in Pasadena, Calif., <a href="" target="_hplink">Hidden Treasures</a> in Topanga, Calif. and <a href="" target="_hplink">Squaresville</a>, a vintage shop in Los Angeles. "I had a vision going into it," says Jenny. "But I knew that I was just going to go to the flea market and see things that reminded me of her." To that end, she picked out a rhinestone brooch and a jeweled hair clip--two main pieces she knew would stand out next to Julia's simple silk dress. Other vintage pieces she bought for the necklace include two rhinestone bracelets, one pearl bracelet, a single rhinestone flower earring, a pair of rhinestone half-moon earrings, two strands of tiny silver beads, a dangling rhinestone arrowhead pendant and the cobalt blue Mother Mary pendant.

  • Step Two: Purchase jewelry-making tools

    Jenny bought these tools from <a href="" target="_hplink">Bead Source</a> to build her necklace: - 2 pairs of jewelry pliers - 1 wire cutter - Fine, soft jewelry wire - 5mm heavy weight jump rings; 1 package silver, 1 package gold - 6mm heavy weight jump rings; 1 package silver, 1 package gold - 1 silver toggle closure - 14K gold-plated heavy cable chain, begin with 2 ft. and cut down to desired length - 1 form on which to build the necklace (Styrofoam head, cork board, mannequin or similar) - Stick pins

  • Step Three: Drape, measure and cut your chain

    Jenny draped the 14k gold-plated chain around a mannequin and pinned it in place (you can also use a cork board). "If you lay something down on the ground or on the table, it doesn't have the same effect. You need to have gravity really pulling on your pieces to see how they drape, how they dangle," says Jenny. She then decided how long she wanted the necklace to be and where she wanted it to hit on the neck, using her own neck to measure; she then cut the chain using wire cutters.

  • Step Four: Attach the toggle closure

    Using jewelry pliers, Jenny pried open one end of the gold-plated chain and looped it through the link on the circle side of the toggle closure; she then used jewelry pliers to close the gold-plated chain link. Jenny repeated this with the other end of the gold-plated chain and attached the stick side of the toggle closure, being sure to close the cable chain link. Then, she closed the necklace using the toggle closure and draped it around the mannequin again.

  • Step Five: Plan your necklace

    Using stick pins, Jenny pinned her vintage finds around the chain on the mannequin; this was the blueprint for her final necklace. Jenny used: Two 4-strand rhinestone bracelets (top, left and right), one pearl bracelet (bottom), 2 strands of very small silver beads (layered, attached near toggle closure at back), one single-strand rhinestone bracelet (bottom), one rhinestone clip-on flower earring (top, right), one rhinestone brooch (bottom, right), one pair of rhinestone clip-on half-moon earrings (top, left), one triangular rhinestone hair clip (bottom, left), one rhinestone arrow head on a chain (dangling at back), one Mother Mary pendant (dangling at back). Then, she rearranged the pieces to her liking and re-pinned.

  • Step Six: Attach your heaviest piece

    Next, she removed her heaviest piece from the mannequin, and using jewelry pliers, she opened a heavy weight jump ring (being sure to select the appropriate size) and looped it through the vintage piece. Jenny's first piece was the rhinestone brooch--she used the jewelry pliers to remove the brooch backing first. Then, she attached the jump ring and the vintage piece to the chain, still draped around her form. Next, she closed the jump ring using the pliers. Then, she continued to open heavy weight jump rings with her pliers; she used several to ensure the piece was secure and attach the piece to the chain. At this point, Jenny removed the necklace off of the form to feel the weight.

  • Step Seven: Attach the next-heaviest piece

    After feeling the weight of the necklace, Jenny returned it to the mannequin. Then, she attached her next-heaviest piece following the same steps as above, ensuring the necklace was asymmetrical but still balanced. Jenny's second piece was the rhinestone hair clip. To attach the clip, she removed the back of the clip using jewelry pliers, opened jump rings with pliers and hooked them through the hair clip (as with brooch); she then attached the hair clip to the gold-plated chain and closed the jump rings. Next she removed the necklace from the mannequin and tried it on to ensure the necklace was balanced and not leaning to one side or the other. She then opened jump rings and adjusted pieces accordingly.

  • Step Eight: Layer additional bracelets, necklaces and strands

    Jenny used her rhinestone bracelets to add layers to the necklace. To attach a bracelet, she used jewelry pliers to open a link at one end of one bracelet, then looped it through the gold-plated chain near the toggle closure and closed the link using pliers. She repeated the same action at the bottom of the bracelet and attached it to the chain behind the rhinestone brooch. Then, she repeated the action on the left side of the necklace with the second bracelet and attached it at the top near the toggle closure, and at the bottom of the bracelet behind the hair clip. Next, she attached the two strands of small silver beads to the top of the chain near the toggle closure by using jewelry pliers to open the rings at the top of the strands and attach as in previous step. She allowed strands to layer and drape all around the necklace. Jenny's final layer was a pearl bracelet. To attach it, she opened the link at one end of the bracelet and attached it to the chain behind the brooch using pliers as with the rhinestone bracelet. She then repeated that on the other side of the bracelet, attaching it to the gold-plated chain behind the hair clip.

  • Step Nine: Add the finishing touches

    Jenny attached four finishing touches to the necklace: One pair and one single clip-on earring, a dangling rhinestone arrowhead and a cobalt blue Mother Mary pendant. To attach the clip-on earrings, she opened the back of one earring and clipped it around the chain. Using pliers, she opened heavy weight jump rings and looped each jump ring through the earring, then looped the jump ring through the gold-plated chain and used pliers to close; she repeated with more jump rings until earring was securely attached and then repeated with other clip-on earrings. To attach the rhinestone arrowhead, she used pliers to open a jump ring, looped the jump ring through the arrowhead, looped the jump ring onto the toggle closure, and used pliers to close the jump ring.

  • Step Ten: Use jewelry wire to secure all of your pieces

    To ensure nothing would fall off of Julia's necklace on the Big Day, she used fine, soft jewelry wire to secure all of her pieces to the gold-plated chain. Using her fingers (you could also use a sewing needle), she weaved the jewelry wire through each of the vintage baubles and layered chains then weaved the wire through the gold-plated chain. Jenny ensured the jewelry wire was pulled taut and barely visible, then tested the look of the necklace by hanging it on her mannequin and adjusting the jewelry wire to ensure it was hidden behind her baubles and layers. Finally, she twisted the jewelry wire and secured the vintage pieces to the gold-plated chain.

  • The End!

    Jenny then gave the necklace to the bride for her fabulous wedding day.