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Treasured Chests: Jewelry Box

Despite Pandora's experience to the contrary, lovely little boxes tend to harbor far more treasure than trouble. And there's no reason the containers themselves shouldn't rival their contents in elegance and allure.




An A-list of embellishments -- velvets, ribbons, and blossoms; embossed papers that mimic the textures of shagreen, leather, and lizard skin; glossy spray-on auto touch-up paint contrasted with delicate rice-paper cutouts; and romantic inscription panels inspired by the labels on vintage French pillboxes -- can transform packages that seem pedestrian into true gems. Add a few equally refined elements inside to keep everything from brooches to billets-doux safe, snug, and in place and the final results of your handiwork may feel too pretty to part with. What better way to let someone you love know how very special he or she is?

Well Contained

A Shaker-inspired oval wooden box lined with velvet ribbon holds smaller variations of itself, romantic repositories for family heirlooms or favorite baubles. The exteriors of the small boxes are brightened with salmon-colored milk paint, a coating traditionally used by American rustic-furniture makers.

Custom-Made Accessories

Even the loveliest jewelry box can benefit from custom-made accessories that organize and protect precious baubles.

1. A paper mailing tube cut to fit within the box and covered with velvet makes storing link and charm bracelets easy.

2. Cushions of silk taffeta stuffed with cotton batting are ideal for layering small items; a ribbon sewn to one ensures that delicate rings won't get lost.

3. Ribbon scraps too pretty to throw away can be used to hold brooches and stickpins.

4. Lengths of richly colored velvet are rolled to store and display rings.

5. Found objects such as a porcelain watercolor palette, a vintage chess piece, and an abalone shell can be set into boxes to hold tiny items.

6. Buttons from a sewing kit are perfect for holding tiny pairs of earrings so they won't get lost or separated.


  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Oval Shaker-style wooden craft boxes
  • Salmon-colored milk paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Paste-style glue
  • Archival mat board
  • Craft knife
  • Fabric glue
  • Fabric


  1. Step 1

    Lightly sand exterior of an oval Shaker-style wooden craft box with fine-grit sandpaper; wipe clean. Apply 2 coats of milk paint if desired.

  2. Step 2

    Select ribbon, measure inside perimeter of box, and trim ribbon to this length. (If box is deeper than the ribbon is wide, cut 2 lengths; if shallower, trim ribbon).

  3. Step 3

    Apply paste-style glue, such as Yes Paste, to inside wall of box. Align edge of ribbon to top rim, and press so it adheres smoothly and ends abut cleanly. (If 2 lengths are needed, align first to bottom edge, then glue second ribbon on top, aligned with top edge.) Let dry.

  4. Step 4

    Trace bottom of box on archival mat board. Cut 1/8 inch inside the line. Test to see that mat board oval fits into box; trim as needed. Place board on wrong side of lining fabric, and cut an oval 1/4 inch wider all around. Apply fabric glue to board, and affix it to reverse side of fabric. Smooth fabric. Glue down cloth edging on back side. When dry, fit panel, fabric side up, inside box.

Martha Stewart Living, February 2008



Reviews (24)

  • bnan 18 Mar, 2009

    Like most of us who do crafts, I save everything. I have had a bunch of these little wooden boxes, in my craft closet, for a long time. I didn't know what to do with them. I will give them the life the deserve, with this wonderful project.Thanks to you Martha and all who are to be credited for this "Treadured Chest" project.

  • Mfosterjeweler 4 Feb, 2009

    You're partially right about that. If you do need to cover pearls put a small cup of distilled water inside- it will let them store for a long time! Mfosterjeweler

  • CraftieCathie 1 Oct, 2008

    Lovely project! However, I see pearls in one of the boxes which I presume is intended to get a cover. I've been told by jewelers: NEVER keep pearls in closed boxes.

  • dogsrcool 24 Aug, 2008

    this project seems easy (If any of us have the time) really we who nows when youll ever get to anything if your tied doin this

  • marianthij 17 Aug, 2008

    Yes indeed, we are having the same problem. We are unable to go beyond page one. Would surely like to download the box lablels. Please advise how to move onto the other pages. Thankyou.

  • kenz2389 6 Aug, 2008

    Is anyone else having trouble getting to the page with the vintage label keepsake boxes still?

  • pkildow 13 Apr, 2008

    I had no problems accessing the labels and they are very nice. amybeth821 and glendaw are both right. To get to the labels you need to use Internet Explorer and Adobe (pdf file program) Many craft projects have directions, diagrams or patterns in pdf files so having Adobe is valuable to crafters in general.

  • javadiva 26 Mar, 2008

    Hi there, I am a jewelry appraser and I see lava stone bracelets like this one turn up all the time on e-bay. They were a very popular style in the Victorian and deco periods.

  • rushmore227 15 Feb, 2008

    Does anyone know where to find the cameo bracelet shown on the mailing tube? I'm madly, madly in love with it and it's not mentioned in the Guide in the print issue. Help!

  • GlendaW 9 Feb, 2008

    Internet Explorer downloaded the images; Firefox would not work. Try a different browser.

  • NickyLin 5 Feb, 2008

    Here's what I did to download... If you click on the clickable text for the templates another browser window should open with the label template on it. I went up to "file" in my browser menu and selected "save as" then when my save as window opened I just saved it to my desktop. I then moved it to the appropriate folder. I hope this helps. It would suck if I could download and no one else is able to.
    Good Luck!
    Nicky Lin

  • bljames 3 Feb, 2008

    I didn't have any trouble just clicked on the blue , large, medium and small vintage labels with no trouble. I saved them to my documents to use later. And the Japanese flower motifs downloaded too. Good luck!

  • seamist10 2 Feb, 2008

    I found this page hard to find and not as clear as I wanted it to be. Great idea if other are successful.

  • santamaker 31 Jan, 2008

    I, too am unable to down load the vintage labels. Would love someone to send in a tutorial on how to do it. Thanks

  • squirrel 25 Jan, 2008

    Seems to be the same problem, date is now Jan.,25, '08,

  • amybeth821 20 Jan, 2008

    I just downloaded them...on Page 2 of this craft, each size label is need Adobe to download them.

  • follymermaid 19 Jan, 2008

    I'm also not having any luck finding them. Too bad, cause they're lovely.

  • ccronin 19 Jan, 2008

    When will be able to download the vintage labels?

  • ljrebeles 18 Jan, 2008

    i am unable to print the vintage labels for keepsake boxes, please let me know how i can download them. thank you.

  • ccronin 18 Jan, 2008

    When I advance to the "next page", I get the home page instead of the vinatage labels! And, how do we download these?!

  • susancarlson 17 Jan, 2008

    Labels are not downloading. Unable to print.

  • teacozy 17 Jan, 2008

    Please tell me how I can download the labels. Thanks!

  • ccronin 17 Jan, 2008

    I cannot advance to the "next page" -- how do I get the vintage-label keepsake boxes? Christy Cronin

  • sjhackney 16 Jan, 2008

    How do we download these vintage box labels? Thanks ! Sally Hackney