DIY Upcycling

Skeleton Key Necklace

Skeleton Key Necklace

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

Antique key necklaceThis necklace project is great for anyone who likes the vintage or upcycled look in jewelry.

Tools and materials
* indicates items that are available at Schnarr’s
Skeleton key*
Vinegar* (optional)
Salt (optional)
Can of clear sealing spray* (could be acrylic or polyurethane)
Round nose pliers
Chain nose pliers (small long nose*, needle nose* or flat nose* pliers would also work)
Side cutters (When they’re sold as jewelry tools, these are called side cutters but the diagonal cut pliers* found at Schnarr’s are very similar. You can also buy long nose pliers that include a cutter. These aren’t as good for close in cutting as the side or diagonal cut pliers, but for this project they will probably be adequate. If you only want to buy one tool for this project and don’t care if your loops are perfectly round, you can get by with just the long nose pliers if they include a cutter. For perfectly round loops you will need round nose pliers in addition.)
Split ring pliers
An assortment of crystal, pearl and glass beads
Copper or gold colored seed beads
Headpins (6), eyepins (8), split rings (4) and large jump rings (4) in metal color or colors of your choice
1mm beading cord
Crimping cord ends
If you like, you can substitute metal craft chain* for the beading cord and then you would not need the cord ends.


1. First select a skeleton key to be the focal point of your necklace. If you’re lucky you might find an antique key that looks just right. Vintage metal parts are in such demand that craft retailers sell a variety of replicas. You can also buy a brand new skeleton key from Schnarr’s. Decide if you want to simulate an antique patina. To artificially age your key soak it in a cup or so of vinegar with a teaspoon of salt added overnight. Let dry and rinse well with water. Let key dry thoroughly and spray with a clear coating.

vintage and new keys with varying degrees of patina
On the left are three new skeleton keys from Schnarr’s. The rightmost key is new, the other two were left in the antiquing solution for varying amounts of time. The right picture is of a variety of keys, mostly genuinely older ones that I soaked in the vinegar and salt mixture. Mixing new and old keys together can help make a better patina on the new keys. If you don’t have any old keys to mix with the new, try soaking them with bits of rusty metal scraps.

2. Put your key down on your work surface and select small beads that complement your key. Arrange beads around it to see if you like how they look and how you would like them to hang. You can also add charms if you have any.

Arrange beads around the key
Arrange beads around the key

3. Make dangles for each side of the key by stringing beads onto eyepins and headpins. Make some of your dangles longer by connecting headpin sections to eyepin sections. Use gold or copper colored seed beads as accents and spacers for the pearl, crystal and glass beads.

Thread beads onto headpins and eyepins and attach to key with jump rings.
Thread beads onto headpins and eyepins and attach to key with jump rings

4. Attach dangles to the lower openings of the key on either side.

5. Select a large jump ring and attach it to the top loop of your key. Run a piece of chain through the jump ring to suspend the key as a pendant on the chain. Variation: if using beading cord, thread two additional pearl beads onto eyepins and use them as a transition from the jump rings at the top of the key to the beading cord.

6. Attach clasp to the chain ends with jump rings. If using beading cord, attach split rings to the pearl segments and attach a doubled piece of 1 mm cord to the split ring with a lark’s head knot.

7. If using beading cord, attach the clasp by crimping the cord ends with cord end findings, using a dot of glue to help hold them in place. Attach a split ring to each end then a clasp to one end. You’re done!

If you need a source for the jewelry supplies, try my online store or a local craft supply retailer.

See my Pinterest site and past lesson plans for more jewelry design ideas and other craft projects.

We also have a lot of great projects on the Schnarr’s Pinterest site!

By Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann

Carolyn was raised in a DIY household. From an early age she was encouraged to try everything from baking to soldering. These days she enjoys paper crafts, mixed media crafts, sewing, ceramics, mosaics, gardening, making things out of wood, home decor projects and upcycling found items into useable and decorative objects.

In the past Carolyn has worked in the retail, web design, and marketing fields. She now works part time at Schnarr's as a cashier, helps with the store's marketing efforts, writes her own blog and craft tutorials, and teaches craft classes. Carolyn’s father introduced her to hardware stores, his tools, and the “stuff stash” that every DIYer collects. It’s no surprise that time spent at Schnarr’s makes her giddy in the presence of things you can use to create! She still loves working on projects with her Dad and it's a treat to make a joint trip to the hardware store!

Carolyn is excited for the opportunity to help Schnarr's customers enrich their lives with creative and fun projects. She wants as many people as possible to experience the joy that DIY projects have brought to her life.

Other places to share Carolyn’s passion for creating:

Carolyn Hasenfratz Design Blog -

Carolyn's Stamp Store -

Carolyn's Pinterest Boards -

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