For 47 years, Earth Day has inspired individuals to renew their commitment to environmental protection. People around the world get together to celebrate nature, get educated on environmental issues and learn how to live greener lives. A good time for contemplation and for making some small but significant changes.
Reinventing the old
One way to be “green,” that can include being eco-conscious is upcycling or repurposing your old jewelry.
“Upcycling” is taking something old and creating something new out of it.
Give cherished family heirlooms new life
Upcycle jewelry for Earth Day by cleaning out your jewelry box and finding ways to revitalize your treasures. If you’re able to bring new life to an old piece of jewelry, you’ll feel good about doing something good for the Earth.
We all know what the basis of Recycling is: a practice that takes an item and targets it for reuse, returning it back to the cycle of daily contribution to society rather than discarding it to trash. Think plastic bottles turned into carpet, toys or fleece.
Upcycling is described as reusing a material without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use. The possibilities are endless with redesigning jewelry. Engagement rings can be turned into pendant necklaces, as can brooches and watches. Necklaces can be formed into earrings, rings, bracelets etc.
Jewelry is meant to be worn, so reinventing an older, heirloom into a piece of new jewelry that reflects your taste makes it more likely that you’ll wear it, and is a great way to keep the memories of loved ones alive.
Even cost-conscious and environmentally friendly brides are even choosing upcycled wedding dresses, which use old dresses to create new ones or accessories. It’s a great way to treasure family heirlooms while incorporate your own personal style.
Here are a few tips and ideas to help breathe new life into an older piece of jewelry:
1. Wear it in a new way. Take an old chunky necklace and wrap it around your wrist instead and it becomes a bracelet. How about using a brooch as a hair ornament or pendant. Pierced or clip earrings, either single or a pair, can be attached to a jacket as a decorative accent.
2. Reimagine an old piece. If pieces that are too small, fragile, or damaged to be worn such as a dainty diamond watch that is too small for the wrist or a vintage diamond brooch, think about attaching to a wide gold cuff.
3. Turn a larger piece of jewelry into several smaller ones. The gems in a statement necklace can become earrings. Diamonds in a large cocktail ring or brooch could be used to make a pendant with matching earrings, etc.
4. Change the metal. A colorless diamond set in platinum or white gold band will make the diamond appear whiter and give the piece a contemporary feel.
5. Repurpose the gemstones in a new piece. Mount them in a new piece of your own desigm and create a piece of jewelry that will become an heirloom for future generations that still has ties to the past. You can also divide the gemstones among siblings and other loved ones, so everyone can share the memories, and create their own heirlooms.
If you decide to remove the gems from a piece, consider sending them to an independent laboratory like GIA for examination, before having them reset. A diamond grading report, or gemological report for colored stones, will document what the stone is, whether it is natural or synthetic and if there are any detectable treatments. This information is key for the appraiser to determine the stones’ value for appraisal and insurance purposes; In addition, knowing how the gems were treated will help the jeweler determine the best way to handle the stones during setting, repair and cleaning.
6. Make it fresh and wearable again. Sometimes all a piece of heirloom jewelry needs is a “tune up”. Bring in your vintage or antique treasure to make sure no gemstones are loose and to give it a proper cleaning. The piece may have a patina (oxidized film) that you may or may not want removed.
Even if you don’t own any heirloom jewelry, you can always acquire a piece that was preowned. Just follow these GIA tips for purchasing estate jewelry. These treasures can be restored or reimagined to create your own piece of history and become a memento to pass on to loved ones.