Lately, I’ve been going through my personal belongings, organizing them, and giving away what I really don’t need, because how much “stuff” does a person really need? Sentimental things aren’t a consideration. They stay. I need them.
One of those sentimental things is a necklace that belonged to my great-grandma. I have a black-and-white picture of her wearing this necklace sometime in the 1940s, sitting in the backyard, cleaning string beans, her head wrapped up in a printed scarf, and the necklace just barely discernable between her dress’s open collar.
The necklace is a string of tin cut faceted 1910s or 1920s-era Czech crystal beads, in graduated sizes, with the original brass spring ring. My understanding was that it went through a couple of re-stringings in years past before I inherited it in high school. The medium back then was black cotton sewing thread, and when I restrung it in high school, I followed suit, using a doubled-up length of white cotton thread, needle, and patience, and a lot of knots.
Over the years, the thread turned green where it met the brass rings, yet the thread itself was in good and seemingly strong condition. However, it was time to restring it with more a reliable material.
Taking it apart was fairly easy work, but the knots were a little difficult to remove from the rings. Once done, I cleaned the brass with dry cotton swabs.
Next, since the beads were hazy, I gently cleaned them and rubbed them with a cotton terry cloth to bring back the brilliant sparkle. Going through each bead, there were two mismatched glass beads with an unusual – maybe antique cut? – shape. Nonetheless, I kept them and used them at each end so they would only be seen from the back if I wear my hair up.
Taking 49-strand AccuFlex, brass crimp beads and crimp bead covers, and wire guards, I restrung the crystals and glass spacer beads, and added three extra vintage era new old stock (NOS) tin cut beads (purchased from Beadtopia Vintage in Flushing, New York) to make the necklace a touch longer. The old and new old stock beads are barely discernable. They look natural.
Now my great-grandma’s necklace is more solid, and I don’t have the queasy feeling that, Heaven forbid, it comes apart while I’m wearing it.
In the past, I wore it for my high school graduation picture, my wedding picture, and countless other special occasions. I’d like to think that Great-Grandma would get a kick out of how her necklace survives and how I’m making sure it lasts for decades to come.
©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.