Jewelry Hacks: Alternate Uses for Jewelry

Jewelry hacks! These tips will help you make use of jewelry items in new and inventive ways.

Wrap a shawl around your waist, and that shawl becomes a sarong. Put a sweater over a dress, and that dress becomes a skirt. Scrunch a tube top around your neck, and that tube top becomes a cowl. Most of us are pretty open to letting our clothing multi-task. But what about jewelry?

Jewelry can do more than just adorn, and some very simple tricks can totally transform how certain pieces get worn. Here are a few ways that I and my fellow bloggers have retooled our jewels.


Any bracelet with a clip closure that fastens securely – like a lobster claw clasp or spring ring – can be used to lengthen a necklace. Clip the bracelet clasp to the jump ring of the necklace, and then use the jump ring of the bracelet to attach the necklace clasp. Voila! Your necklace is several inches longer. This can also work if both necklace and bracelet both have toggle clasps, but the links won’t be as secure. E has done this several times with her orange necklace. The piece is actually a bib-style, but she prefers to wear it longer.


If you’ve got a clasp-less necklace of a problematic length, try using a clasped necklace to elongate and double it up. Fold the clasp-less necklace in half, thread the clasped necklace through the folds, close the clasp, and presto! A longer, double-strand necklace is temporarily created.


Sometimes you want your outer layers to be boxy or cozy, but sometimes they look better fitted. Dress clips may have gone the way of the dodo, but using a brooch to cinch a blazer or cardi from the back works wonders. So long as you don’t use a gigantic brooch that will pierce your spine whenever you lean back into your chair, this is a great way to do some on-the-fly tailoring AND add interest to otherwise staid pieces. Learned this trick from Kasmira, who is pictured above demonstrating it.


In case you don’t have jump rings, needle-nose pliers, and the other trappings of jewelry making just sitting around, here’s a way to shorten up a chain necklace in two shakes. Pass the pointy end of a safety pin through a chain link, as shown. Use the safety pin in place of the ending jump ring – meaning attach the necklace clasp to the safety pin instead.


Bargain fashion writer Sally McGraw brought friends to model some of the concepts she's writing about, How to use jewelry in alternative ways.ÊIllustration [ TOM WALLACE ¥ _ Assignments #20022465A_ April 23, 2011_ SLUG: prettty0505_ EXTRA INFORMATION: CQ'ed
In response to an old post on what to do with brooches, beautiful Bridget sent in this idea. Seriously, how clever is this? She’s used a brooch to shorten extra long spaghetti straps on her dress. We can’t see the front, but this technique pulls the bodice up a bit, making the dress less revealing and more fitted. Plus it creates a really cool crisscross strap effect in the back! (Image by Tom Wallace)


Chain belts can easily double as big, chunky necklaces if you simply throw them over your neck instead of looping them around your waist. But how about using a long necklace as a belt? You’ll need a necklace that has no clasp, and preferably one that’s pretty durable. (The one I’m wearing here is made of chunky plastic faux pearls.) Double the strand, and feed a ribbon through the loops. Tie in the back, and saunter through your day feeling sassily adorned.

Originally posted 2010-03-17 06:01:00.

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53 Responses to “Jewelry Hacks: Alternate Uses for Jewelry”

  1. EvaNadine

    love this post!
    im gonna go home and re-evaluate all of my jewelry now.

  2. Vanessa

    Love the necklace-as-belt look most of all! I love the outfit! I think I've tried to do the same look– and with pearls to boot!– with one of my own necklaces but it didn't quite work, since I'd only thought it was long enough that I could sort've tie the actual strand. The ribbon idea is great– why didn't I think of that?!

  3. T

    Great post!

    This kind of goes with the "bracelet to length a necklace" idea. I read somewhere to link together several bracelets to make a unique necklace. Haven't tried it yet, but I hope to soon!

  4. Elle

    No tricks of my own, but saw several of yours I want to try. Especially the safety pin to shorten a necklace, and the brooches in unusual places.

  5. blackdog finds

    These ideas are genius!

    One I thought of: Wear 2 diaphanous, flowy skirts, one over the other, use one or a cluster of pretty brooches to gather the top skirt to one side for a pretty layered look.

    I may need to take pictures to illustrate, I think I'm having trouble articulating 😉

  6. gina

    Great ideas! I love the brooch on the spaghetti straps. Reminds me of dancers who use safety pins on their leotard straps, but this is prettier!

    I recently use a brooch to fasten a blouse that didn't button as high as I wanted it too.

    I've also done necklace as belt.

    I also have a few necklaces that I regularly double or triple up to use as bracelets.

    I've also used hook earrings as charms on necklaces and chokers. I learned that trick from my mother.

  7. A-C

    Sally, can you read my mind? I've been wondering how to go about cinching in my black velvet-y blazer and had just about given up. I'm going to go home today and try using a brooch in the back. thanks!

    Shameless plug: Enter my giveaway!

  8. Erin

    There's a salesgirl at the loft that I work that is forever wearing necklaces as belts and hip chains, or just draped over her shoulder and across her chest like a sash, or wrapped up in a high bun…. it always looked pretty awesome
    my manager started asking if she was ever going to wear them like regular necklaces!

  9. Fell 4 Fashion

    Such great ways to use jewelry! I never thought to use a safety pin to shorten necklaces! I'm totally going to do this 🙂

  10. closet365

    This is great. I never even though about alternative uses for jewelry. Right on!

  11. Vildy

    I do a lot of these things but I never thought of shortening a necklace with a safety pin! You can betcha I'm going to do this. Thanks!

  12. Diana

    This are such awesome tips! I use a chain extender almost daily to change up the lengths of my necklaces.

  13. Jasie VanGesen

    Such great ideas! I especially like the lengthening of the necklace at the beginning of the post! I've bought a couple of bib style necklaces from F21 and was annoyed when I got them home and they felt too high on me. I'm going to try this!!

  14. Laikabear

    Wow, I love the bracelet trick for too-short sleeves. I have long monkey arms and my sleeves are ALWAYS too short. 🙂

  15. Didi

    This is not a plug, but if anyone knows a "jeweler" that sells Premier Designs Jewelry, they have an awesome item called a "clip-it" a large one sells for $10, and is about an inch long, but the minis (aboubt 1/4 inch) are free and come in shiny and brushed goldtone, silvertone, and coppertone. Very handy.

  16. Nina (Femme Rationale)

    thank u for all these tips! i always use necklaces as bracelets and brooches to make multiple necklaces uniform.

  17. The Budget Babe

    such great ideas! im going to try lengthening a necklace with a bracelet.

  18. Maegan

    You know I love this post! …even in my outfit post today I am wearing a necklace as a belt. Love it!

  19. Lain

    I have a few more to add:

    1. I use broches as a pendant. I had a pin to pendant converter, but most times I just pin it on, works great with a strand of beads or pearls.

    2. Broches can be used to hold almost anything in place. (Pin up a low surplice neckline, keep layers from sliding all over the place, keep a cloth belt or a scarf in place). They also look nice as a hair accessory.

    3. Bracelets with a lobster claw clasp and small, but open links can be adjusted to lots of different lengths. I have figaro link bracelet I have never actually worn on my wrist.

  20. Savvy Gal

    such great idea. I have been wearing my necklace as a loose belt. : )

  21. kristophine

    I like having all of these gathered in one place. It's kind of inspiring–one of my most beautiful necklaces is just a bit too long, and I've been meaning to bust out my needlenose pliers and fix that for a long time, but I bet I'd get more wear out of it with a safety-pin fix.

  22. La Historiadora de Moda

    Oooh! A necklace as a belt! I love that idea.

    I will sadly have to use a safety pin to fix the chain that I broke on my Wendy Brandes Tiny Genie necklace today. I got it caught on a tag while in a fitting room, and in my haste to stop feeling like I was choking tugged too hard and the chain rather than the plastic thingy on the tag snapped right in two. *sigh*

  23. Rad_in_Broolyn

    Such a great post. I just need to get over my fear of jewelry now. And get creative!

  24. budget chic

    Very creative thank you for the tips, definitely need to get creative with the few pieces that I have!!

  25. xs

    what clever and fun ideas to try! thanks for sharing all of these helpful hints.

  26. What Would a Nerd Wear

    so creative–i especially love the alterations of necklaces.

  27. Fashion Chalet

    Great post (and blog!)

    Will definitely keep reading 🙂


  28. E

    Oh you're so inspiring me to play with a brooch! now I just need to find a pretty one like yours!

  29. secondhandshopaholic

    These are excellent ideas – especially the ones about shortening and lengthening necklaces. Thanks!!

  30. SR@MyStyle

    Hi Sal-what a fabulous post, very inspirational and I love the tips for the brooches!!

  31. noel

    what fun, clever ideas! now i'm re-evaluating everything in my closet and jewelry box!

  32. thenewprofessional

    Great tips! I'm so rethinking all the jewelry I see now…like…that necklace would be great as a belt, that brooch would look great w/ my tank.

  33. Vix

    Not much to add to your comprehensive list, but I do use vintage clip-on earrings the way others mentioned they used broaches — as a pendant, to hold a scarf in place, or to fancy-up a neckline.

  34. Rosie Unknown

    Wonderful post!

    I had a faux pearl necklace that wasn't quite the right length, so I took it off the original string, and rethreaded it with a clasp, so I can wear it as a belt or as a doubled necklace.

  35. jill

    this is terrific! used one of the ideas today 🙂 thank you.

  36. Linguist Barbie

    I think this has been mentioned already, but I like to pin brooches to ponytail holders like so to create hair ornaments.

    And I was inspired by your pearls-as-belt today to take a long strand of pearls, double it, fasten it in the back with a safety pin, and use it as a headband. (I've been a little stressed out about trying to actually *do* something with my hair lately, which is why so much of the shiny stuff ends up there…)

    On a completely different note, I also use orphaned earrings as stitch markers when I knit – an alternate use indeed! ;c)

  37. Shayna

    Interesting suggestions – but I have to admit, the double wrist bracelets just called more attention to her ill fitting sweater… accenting something that doesn't fit well does not make it appear to fit better, it just makes the poor fit more apparent.

  38. Anonymous

    Old clip on earrings are great to clip on to your shoes as well!

  39. The Style Daydreamer

    Love your ideas in this post! Makes me want to rethink my jewelry drawer…

  40. Mikaela

    I loved this post! i've never even thought of using a necklace as a belt! although I'm not sure that i have any which are long enough..this is the perfect excuse to go buy more jewelry!

    Have you heard of Gemvara? They have all customizable jewelry and is my new favorite site because i really love being able to customize everything which goes along great with your theme on jewelry blog roll.

  41. Ruth Ann Renato

    In the early 1970s my mom took dozens of earrings, necklaces and brooches, mixed them in with cracked glass (from wine bottles), some small lights and made a two-dimensional Christmas tree!!! It was quite large and took two people to hang it on the wall. My mom passed in 1996 and my dad kept it in storage for years. After he passed in 2006 my stepmom had an property auction and it got away. But one could look at it and appreciate my mom’s creativity. One more use for old jewelry!!!