What to Do with Inherited Costume Jewelry


Fran, my late mother-in-law,  loved jewelry. Her collection spanned from exquisite “real” pieces to a treasure trove of costume jewelry. She belonged to an era where leaving the house meant impeccable grooming—hair, makeup, clothing, shoes, and, of course, jewelry.

When Fran passed away, I inherited all her costume jewelry. For years, it has sat boxed up, waiting for inspiration on what to do with it.

As I look at each sparkling bracelet, watch, ring, and necklace, vivid memories of Fran wearing them flood my mind. These pieces weren’t just accessories; they were part of who she was.

Now, Fran’s style wasn’t exactly mine. While I kept a few select pieces to wear, the majority remained in a box, silently waiting for me.

Recently, I took to Pinterest for ideas and saw shadow boxes, embellished bulletin boards and frames, revamped mirrors, key chains, and a few other things that just didn’t speak to me. I did find one piece that I loved and attempted to recreate, but my attempt was … let’s just say I’ve already disassembled it.  I don’t understand how it was created. Glue and wire didn’t work well. I’m thinking maybe soldering?   I haven’t given up on this…. it’s just on the back burner for now.


Anyway, after that epic failure, I decided to try something a bit less ambitious.

I found a silver-plated teapot for $7 at a thrift store, painted it, and glued just one piece of her jewelry on as an embellishment.

Fran was a military wife and as the wife of a Colonel, she was expected to have luncheons and tea parties for the wives of those under her husband’s authority.. A teapot, with one piece of her sparkling jewelry…  is a perfect representation of that part of her life.


I’m not sure I want 100 teapots in my house though. Okay, I don’t. So I’m looking for other ideas now.

If you have any ideas, or if you know how that Pinterest piece was created, please leave a Comment and let me know. Or post in my Facebook Group, if you prefer. I look forward to your suggestions!


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Comments (8)

  1. Nancy Barnes

    When I was growing up my great grandmother had a “picture” she hung every Christmas. It was a black velvet background and had a Christmas tree shape on it. The shape was filled with pieces of costume jewelry, decorative buttons, lapel pins, etc. I loved that tree. And I often wonder what happened to it. I wish it was mine. Your picture definitely looks like there is a background fabric. I take the fabric and put it on stretcher bars so the fabric is good and taut. Then start with your main branch pieces and tack it down with a few stitches and some good old E6000 glue. Best wishes on your project!! Please share when it’s done! Oh, and I love that teapot!!

    April 5, 2024 at 11:46 am
    • That must have been a common thing “back then.” We used to have the same thing, designed with pearls. It wasn’t my style and didn’t have any sentimental meaning to me, so we don’t have it anymore. The picture I posted was a picture of a picture, and yes, it does look like there is fabric underneath the rim. I didn’t think it looked like it had anything behind it in the original imagem which is part of the reason I liked it so much. I’ll have to find it and look again. Nevertheless, your idea is really a good one and one I think I will try … when I get the nerve again. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

      April 5, 2024 at 11:57 am
  2. Susan Whicker

    The Christmas tree is such a good idea. I have so much costume jewelry from my mom and I would love to do something special with it. I’m going to have to think on this. I love the teapot but I don’t need anything else sitting in my house. But bringing out a special Christmas tree wall hanging is a wonderful idea. Thanks

    April 5, 2024 at 1:44 pm
    • We’re in the same boat, Susan. 🙂 Look on Pinterest “What to do with costume jewelry” – if you haven’t already. There are a lot of ideas there, and I’ve seen some Christmas tree images there too. This is a link to my “Things to do with Costume Jewelry” Pinterest Board. That might get you started with some ideas. I would love to see what you decide upon.

      April 5, 2024 at 1:52 pm
  3. oscla

    I took an antique gold large frame, lined it with a thin velvet fabric. Cut all my pieces apart, and made a gorgeous Christmas tree. Glued with E6000 and an angel on the top. I keep it up all year. You can find them (to have the idea) on Pinterest. It really turned out beautiful!

    April 5, 2024 at 3:37 pm
    • Thanks for sharing, Oscla. I’m glad you leave it out all year. Will you share a photo of what you did? Either here or in my Facebook Group?

      April 5, 2024 at 3:58 pm
  4. Vicki Haines

    Years ago my mother passed away and I ended up inheriting my grandmother’s, my aunts, as well as my mom’s costume jewelry! One day I emptyed it all out on the dining table and was going through it all as my daughter watched. Now I had a large jewelry box at the time and had no need for all that jewelry so kept out a few pieces but donated all the rest. Shame on me! Now I wish I had kept more of it…or all of it! When I started making strip quilted vests I could have used a lot of them as embellishments, either pieces or the whole jewelry piece!

    April 6, 2024 at 5:52 am
    • I feel your pain, Vicki. There are things I have gotten rid of (other than the jewelry) that now I wish I had kept. Your idea for the vests sounds intriguing. I’ve seen costume jewelry sold at some flea markets around where I live. It’s not the same as having inherited it, but without the sentimental value, you could still make use of it.

      April 6, 2024 at 6:39 am
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