When working with vintage beads there are some things you might want to consider. First, make sure they are actually vintage. True vintage beads often have larger holes through which to thread the string and may show wear in the hole from the original cord, said Bruce Frank of online retail site Bruce Frank Antique and Vintage Beads. The surface of vintage beads may also be dull or muted from the oils on the wearer's skin.
Buyers should carefully examine the surfaces of the beads for damage or wear before purchasing and restringing. Vintage beads can be restrung to lengthen an existing design, modify that design, or for use in an entirely new design.
Wash the beads to bring them back to their original beauty. Many things can alter the appearance and glow of your beads. The oil in your skin, sweat, make up and the worst of all, time. These pollutants cause the surfaces of your glass or crystal beads to look dull and dirty. Use a baby’s toothbrush and a very mild cleaner to clean the surfaces of your beads once you have removed them from their original strand. Glass and crystal should stand up well while cleaning; however, simulated pearls need to be tested to ensure their finish will hold up.
Pick a beading string that will enhance your beads and give strength at the same time. When restringing vintage pearls, consider using a silk cord. Pearls have traditionally been strung on silk with knots between each bead. Knots are placed so the pearls do not rub together and if the line breaks you will not lose more than a few beads. If you do not want to knot, consider placing a seed bead as a spacer between each pearl to add to the overall look of the finished piece.
If you are stringing crystals or glass beads, consider using a monofilament cord to increase strength and stability. Monofilament is a flexible wire that has been coated with nylon. This cord will work well if you have beads with sharp edges, heavy beads or just to make the finished project stronger.
Chose a stronger clasp. The decorative clasps of the past just will not keep up with daily use. Add a more secure clasp to make sure that all your hard work in restringing the beads will not go to waste because you've used a faulty clasp. Also, some of the older clasps are hard to work with or have little hooks that fit into a smaller slit. There is a wide number of options available, some of which were created to look vintage while still giving the security you desire.