Turning Your Vintage Chatelaine Into Jewelry

A chatelaine is a decorative belt hook with a set of chains used to carry useful little tools. Though they were very popular and practical in the Victorian era, they are very seldom used in today's society. Maybe you acquired a chatelaine or have one that has been passed down in your family and you feel that you have no use for it. Here you can read about ways to repurpose the chatelaine's different elements into modern jewelry.

Chatelaine Chains

The vintage chatelaine chains will have tarnished over time. You can either polish the chains or embrace the vintage charm and leave them as they are. The chains can be taken off of the hook and turned into bracelets by simply adding a clasp that you can buy at any craft store. Or you can add a length of chain to an existing necklace to make a Y-necklace. Including a little charm or one of the original small chatelaine tools at the bottom will give the necklace a focal point. 

Chatelaine Tools

Historically, chatelaines had keys, small notebooks, lockets, pocket watches, thread scissors, pin canisters, and sometimes smelling salts. Though some of these items are obsolete or would not fair well as modern jewelry, others would work nicely. A locket or a pocket watch could be taken off of the chatelaine and used as a pendant on a long necklace. Other tools on a chatelaine may not have been used for decoration in the past but could serve that purpose well today. Things like vintage keys, thimble holders, and tiny perfume vials would all make beautiful charms.

Chatelaine Jewels

Chatelaines sometimes had jewels embedded in them. These jewels can be removed with the help of a silversmith or jeweler. The craftsmen can help you design and create rings or earrings with the jewels, or they can be turned into charms or beads for necklaces and bracelets.

Chatelaine Hooks

The hooks where chatelaines attached to a belt were as decorative as they were practical. Often they were beautifully designed to present a sense of status. A chatelaine hook can easily be turned into a brooch with the addition of a pin along the back. Or you could add a small metal loop at the top and turn the hook into a bold necklace pendant. Some chatelaines are two-anchor chatelaines and these identical hooks could be made into a pair of earrings.

Though chatelaines are a thing of the past, their elements and sentimentality can be brought into the twentieth century and given a new significance. To get one for yourself, talk to someone who sells sterling silver heirloom chatelaines.