Upcycling Jewelry 101
Broken chains, single earrings, pieces you don’t wear anymore, symbols of a past life…. these are all things we have sitting in a jewelry box or zip lock bag in the corner of a drawer somewhere in the house. Some of the items may be sentimental and have beautiful gemstones in them that you would love to wear. But wow the jewelry it’s currently set in is so NOT your style.
Never fear, these pieces can spark joy again! Here’s a step by step guide on how to make that happen.
Decide which items/gems have the most importance to you and what piece of jewelry you would wear most. For most people that might be a ring. Just looking at your hand can make you think of the original piece and that special person that also wore that gem. Maybe a necklace is more your style and you want to wear the stone and recycled metal close to your heart. Or you have a lot of old gold jewelry and you want wear a big thick bangle that recycles the whole pile of it.
Gather all the items together. I always want to start the project with the recycled jewelry and gems in my possession. I need to measure gemstones and weigh the amount of scrap metal to see if there’s enough for the project. More metal is needed to start the project than ends up in the finished piece due to the process of casting, filing and polishing. I go through all the items and remove white gold settings from yellow gold items, remove small diamonds and gems, take off spring rings from chains and make sure there’s no gold filled or gold plated items in the mix. PLEASE NOTE: In some cases reusing the metal from old jewelry isn’t a good idea. White gold becomes very brittle if it’s re-melted and makes a poor end product. Also, items that have many solder joints also contaminate the gold. In some cases I suggest refining the old gold and using new metal.
Next step is the design. Custom design starts with some basic questions or maybe an image of a piece of jewelry you saw and fell in love with. If it’s one of my designs you love then all the better! If not, Pinterest is always a great place to start gathering a board of possibilities. That also helps me ‘get into your head’ and really helps guide the design process.
Once a sketch and the budget is given the thumbs up I require a 50% deposit to start piece. In most cases the whole process happens in my studio. With some more intricate designs and settings I use computer aided design (CAD) to render the ring and then print it in wax. That wax is then used to cast the piece into metal- this is where your old gold comes into play.
Getting your new jewelry to you. If we can’t meet in person, I like to send a photo or video of the final piece. Once final payment is made, I use Canada post or Fedex to ship the jewelry to you. Any unused gems and extra metal is sent back your way. In most cases the left over metal is small enough that I use the scrap gold value and deduct that from the total cost. About once a year I have scrap that I send to a large Canadian refinery for recycling. They work their magic and take all of the impurities and other metals out of the gold scrap so it is ready for use again.
I’ve had a busy January up-cycling jewelry so I thought this blog would be helpful. Here’s some of the items that I’ve enjoyed creating this month.
Please contact me if you have any questions or projects in mind! I would love to help you enjoy your old or sentimental jewelry once again.