Jewelry Component Swap Parties

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

You've heard of clothing swap parties, recipe swaps, even beer swaps--but have you ever thought of a jewelry supply 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? Broken necklaces and bracelets can be repurposed into fantastic new designs. Do a little exchanging with your friends and colleagues. In addition, think of the money everyone will save by "shopping for free."

Look through your supply of beads and jewelry-making components. What haven't you used lately? You will probably find an assortment of rarely used beads, findings and other components. How about your personal jewelry boxes? You likely have forgotten necklaces, broken bracelets, tangled chains and earrings missing their partners. Visit your jewelry-making tool chest, too. Aren't 10 pairs of flat nose pliers more than you really need? Don't toss them or cast them back into solitude ... exchange them with your friends and colleagues at a Jewelry Supply Swap Party!

Get Started on the Fun-- Throw Your Own Swap Party!

Use our easy-to-follow checklist:
1. Invite jewelry makers
  • 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
2. Set up the swap space
  • Set up a table or two with plenty of chairs for all of your guests
  • Cover tables 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 kind of like Christmas!
3. Provide a findings area
  • Jump rings
  • Clasps
  • Ear wires
  • Head pins and eye pins
  • Bails
  • Accu-Flex® Professional-Quality Beading Wire
  • Crimp beads or tubes
  • Crimp covers
  • Crimping pliers
  • Bead caps
  • Silk thread
  • Terminators

4. Collection containers
  • 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
5. Bring the noms
  • 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 scene will end up similar to children diving after candy from a busted piñata, have everyone take turns picking items. Have plenty of plastic bags on hand--guests may wish to simply "shop" for new beads and components they can take with them for future creations.

Make your Jewelry Supply Swap Party an annual event for New Year's, conduct one after each design season is over or schedule one whenever most of your friends and colleagues are cleaning out old inventory and building new items for upcoming jewelry lines.

As they say, one designer's trash is another designer's treasure.

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