by Lisa Coen, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Have you looked through your supply of beads and jewelry-making components lately? You might be surprised to find an assortment of rarely used beads, findings and other components. How about your old jewelry boxes? Forgotten necklaces, broken bracelets, tangled chains and earrings missing their partners might be amongst your items. Don't toss them or cast them back into solitude ... exchange them with your friends and colleagues at a Jewelry Component Swap Party!

Recycling, or upcycling, is here to stay, so what better way to make new jewelry than with existing components that were chosen and cherished by friends? In addition, think of the money everyone will save by "shopping for free."

Most jewelry designers have leftover beads, components and findings from older jewelry lines that they may not be using anymore. Some of your designer friends may have jewelry that was created in older styles or past trends, or jewelry that they simply don't wear any longer. Many designers have unique pieces of jewelry or hard-to-find vintage components that they've forgotten about. Broken necklaces and bracelets can be repurposed into fantastic new designs. Do a little exchanging with your friends and colleagues. As they say, one designer's trash is another designer's treasure.

Throw Your Own Party:
Invite friends, co-workers or members of your beading and design groups to a Jewelry Component Swap Party. Ask each guest to bring their unused components and/or damaged jewelry and their own set of jewelry-making pliers and cutters.

Set up a table or two with plenty of chairs for all of your guests. Cover it with a table cloth for protection and to help keep beads from rolling around. As guests arrive, they can unload their lost treasures in the middle of the table. It's just like Christmas!

Provide a supply of the following findings in various sizes and finishes around the table (or ask each person to bring a small supply of one or two of these items):
  • Jumprings
  • Clasps
  • Earwires
  • Headpins and eyepins
  • Bails
  • Accu-Flex® Professional-Quailty Beading Wire
  • Crimp beads and covers
  • Bead caps
  • Silk Thread
  • Terminators
Set out muffin tins, small bowls and cups for random beads and findings. Set out bead boards and mats. Have a mirror and a few necklace displays nearby and keep a laptop close to search the Gallery of Designs for inspiration.

Serve appetizers and drinks--or ask each guest to bring a food dish or beverage to share. Play some music in the background and let guests mingle and peruse the pile of jewelry goodies on the table.

Everyone will have a blast digging into the pile to find great design components to create new jewelry. If you think the new treasures will cause a scene similar to children diving after candy from a busted piñata, have everyone take turns picking items. Have plenty of plastic baggies on hand--guests may wish to simply "shop" for new beads and components they can take with them with them for future creations.

Make a Jewelry Component Swap Party a regular event after each design season is over, or when most of your friends and colleagues are cleaning out old inventory and adding new items for upcoming jewelry lines.

In case you're in need of any supplies, here are quick links for easy reference: Additional Resources:

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