Friday, December 3, 2010

Chain Reaction

Have you ever gone shopping for a necklace to set off your trendy new outfit but not been able to find ANYthing near what you had in mind? What did you do? Buy the next best thing to what you envisioned? Or wait and keep looking?
I've learned, through many misplaced dollar donations, that it's best for me to wait. If I buy something less than what I had in mind, I won't wear it because I'll always be annoyed that it's not quite right, that it's not quite me.
What if you find the style or colour necklace that is exactly what you had in mind? You fall in love with how it looks on you, and what it does for your outfit. But there's something not quite right with the necklace...faulty workmanship, a few beads that clash with the outfit, poor fit... Now what do you do?

I had a fun fashion experience at Kooky in Palmerston North's Downtown Mall. The Kooky ladies helped me find an overlayer for the dress I had with me, and as I dithered over whether there was enough of the right colour near my face (white tulle coat over black and red dress), shop attendant Pat produced a vibrant necklace that emphasized my favourite colour in the dress.
But she hung the thing around my neck so that the clump of beads and links rested in my cleavage. I wanted it nearer my face. We refastened the chain so it fit just so...and I found myself with a 20cm tail of chain dangling on my chest beside the curve of beads.

My sloping shoulders meant that the excess length was never going to remain hanging down my back.
Pat said, "I just chop my jewellery until it's right."
"Chop?!" I queried.
"With pliers," she said.
I had a pair of jewellery pliers at home. I purchased the necklace with high hopes.
That night, before I did anything to the necklace, I tried it with another outfit (the one I'm wearing in the photo above), and again dithered. The full length necklace looked great on the merino poloneck, but the winter climate here means that I usually have a zipped jacket on top of the poloneck. The necklace would be swallowed up in lapel. I decided that mostly I need short chains that will work with a revere collar shirt or a poloneck jumper.

That decision made, I got out my bead board and pliers. It's easier to control the tiny pieces if you have two pairs of pliers, which I don't, so I supplemented my tool kit with tweezers. They weren't really strong enough, but I managed.
I calculated the total length of chain I needed, divided it by two (27 chain links per side), then pried open about four links and closed as many again as I redistributed the length to match my measurements. The whole operation took about fifteen minutes and didn't cost me a cent.

I left 8 links on the extension for a slightly longer dangle at the front if I choose.

My shopping advice is:
Ask yourself ---
  1. Do you want the necklace for just one outfit or multiple outfits?
  2. If you want the necklace to work for multiple outfits, what is the neckline style you wear most often? Will the necklace work with that?
  3. If the price is perfect but the style, setting, or colour isn't, is there something you can do to fix it at home? If you don't think you can do it, is it something that can be inexpensively fixed by a jeweller or beadshop/experienced beadworker?** If not, keep looking.

**You may have to research your options there. I was on holiday in North Canterbury when I forgot to take my pearl necklace off before I removed my poloneck jersey, the result being the necklace wire popped out of the crimp and pearls spilled into my hand as I grabbed for the swinging wire. Bearing up in hope, I asked a Rangiora jeweller if they could fix it. They could, for NZ$40. That was as much as I paid for the necklace. It was my favourite, but it wasn't worth $80. The kind jeweller suggested I try the bead shop across the road. The owner of the bead shop took one look at my sad pile of pearls and wire and said, "Not a problem. I can restring that for $14." She had it done by the next day, and I shall be forever grateful to her.

These blue pearls are what I wore with one of my costumes on tour with Jules Riding. You can click here to see me performing. If you'd like to know more about my experience, subscribe to or

By the way, if you think something wild is going on with the post formatting, it is. Blogger's New Advanced post solutions are not something we are happy about.

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