How to Make a Vintage Jewelry Christmas Tree

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Making a costume jewelry Christmas tree is a really fun craft project that adds a touch of retro sparkle to your holiday decor. It's a great way to display a collection of vintage jewelry and even allows you to make use of broken or mismatched items. If you don't have enough costume jewelry to cover a whole Christmas tree cone, find additional bling in thrift stores and gather rhinestones and beads to fill any gaps. Once you have gathered enough old jewelry, this DIY Christmas craft tutorial is straightforward and easy to complete.

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Things You'll Need

  • Styrofoam cone

  • White glue

  • Paintbrush or sponge

  • Acrylic paint

  • Varied vintage costume jewelry

  • Dressmaker pins

  • Low-temperature hot glue gun

  • Assorted beads including seed beads

1. Prime the foam cone with white glue

With a paintbrush or sponge, apply a layer of white glue all over the surfaces of a foam cone. Wait for the glue to fully dry–at least two hours–before proceeding with the vintage jewelry Christmas tree project.

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This step isn't essential, but it creates a sturdier surface on which to attach the jewelry and beads.

2. Paint the foam cone

Select a color of acrylic paint for the foam cone base of your jeweled Christmas tree. The whole cone should be covered and concealed by jewelry and beads by the end of the project. However, glimpses of the base might show through, so choose a color that complements the vintage jewelry you are using. This could be green, a neutral color, metallic hue or a jewel tone.

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Paint two or more coats for an opaque finish and let the final coat of paint dry before continuing.

3. Select the biggest and fanciest jewels

Pick out the larger items of vintage costume jewelry that you want to showcase on your Christmas tree art project. Hold them up against the foam cone, for now without pinning or gluing, to determine the best positions for each item. Larger pieces of jewelry might need to be arranged nearer the base of the cone, with smaller ones toward the top.

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4. Choose a tree topper

Choose an appropriate item of jewelry to be the tree topper. Set it aside for now. If you don't have a piece of jewelry that will work, find a Christmas ornament or bow to use instead.

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5. Attach the first set of jewels

Once you have decided roughly how to arrange the largest and most special pieces of jewelry, start pinning them into place on the foam cone. You can use existing pins on brooches and earrings, and attach other items with dressmaking pins. Place pins through the links in chains or other small holes that are part of the jewelry's design, and then insert the pin into the foam cone.

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If the heads of the pins are too small to hold the jewelry in place, insert the pin first through a seed bead (choose a transparent bead or a complementary color) and then through the jewel.

6. Use hot glue with caution

Use a hot glue gun to secure jewelry to the tree only if you know you won't want to remove the item from the tree in the future and are not worried about damaging the item. Further, only attach items with glue once you're certain about their position on the tree. Pins allow for repositioning as you work, whereas glue does not.

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7. Add smaller jewels

Select another round of jewelry items to add to the tree—this time, use smaller costume jewels to fit in and around the larger pieces already in place. Attach them to the cone in the same manner with pins and, if necessary, hot glue.

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Get creative with this step—for example, by coiling necklaces and bracelets in and around the other jewelry

8. Fill in the gaps

Fill in any remaining spaces between jewels with a choice of beads or rhinestones. Broken-off gems or bits of bling are also good for filling in small gaps. Attach individual beads using pins, adding a seed bead at the end of the pin if needed. For rhinestones and other gems, use a small amount of hot glue.

9. Add the tree topper

Attach the piece of jewelry or other decoration you set aside as the tree topper to the top of the cone. If the topper looks nicer from a certain angle, choose your preferred part of the tree as the front-facing section and attach the topper to match this angle. Use pins or hot glue to secure the topper.

10. Display the tree as Christmas decor

Your finished costume jewelry Christmas tree will make a beautiful and unique piece of home decor for the holiday season. Place it on a mantle alongside other Christmas ornaments, use it as a centerpiece for a table or to add some sparkle to a bookshelf. Consider setting the jeweled tree on top of a pillar candleholder.

If your vintage jewelry collection is large enough, you could make multiple jeweled trees in different sizes for a special display.

Tip

Depending on your preferred holiday home decor style and the types of vintage costume jewelry in your collection, you might spend some time choosing items for the tree according to a theme or color scheme. For example, all the jewelry could be silver or gold, or all feature similar stones such as faux rubies or pearls. For this kind of design, choose filler beads that match the theme as well.

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