A wise sage once said “everything old is new again,” but in our highly consumeristic society, we’re perpetually seduced by hot-off-the-factory-line goods and infinitely bigger and better yet utterly disposable junk. Conveniently, the seemingly must-have goods that we pine away for and ultimately add to our burgeoning collection(s) somehow always seem to wear out or break in record time, prompting us to happily seek shiny new replacements. This cycle of purchasing and purging typically continues on ad nauseam, much to the dismay of our wildly bloated landfills, reinforcing our inclination to piddle away whatever spare time we might have at the closest shopping mall. On a far smaller scale, jewelry suffers a similar fate, particularly when it’s of the “costume” kind. Even when we get our hands on what seems like an enduring design crafted with precious metals and eye-catching gemstones, the ever-shifting winds of fashion render last year’s glimmering piece yesterday’s news.
Choo Yilin
At one point or another, formerly desirable necklaces, earrings and bracelets end up living out their days amid the dark confines of a jewelry box. When they can’t be pawned off on Craigslist buyers or fashion-compromised family members, they more than likely experience a liquefied, Wicked Witch of the West ending. The good news, however, is that unlike mainstream goods that are effortlessly disposed of when we crave a new model, old baubles made with gold, silver and other valuable materials tend to enjoy a 99.9% recycling success rate, with metals melted down and gems recut and polished when necessary. With an impressive range of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings to her credit, designer Choo Yilin’s Artisan Jewellery makes the most of the metal harvested from unwanted sparklers, using close to 100% reclaimed sterling silver as the base for her organic, nature-inspired designs.
Andy Lifschutz
She then ramps up her sustainability commitment by also utilizing slightly blemished gemstones that would normally be considered waste, reasoning that jewelry, like life, can still be beautiful in spite of its occasional flaws. One look at Yilin’s portfolio of delicately ethereal and highly inventive pieces will get you hooked, and the fact that the materials have already been around the block further enhances the dazzling charm of each and every piece. For a highly rustic but nevertheless eye-catching twist, look no further than Portland- and New York-based Andy Lifschutz’ entirely captivating, one-of-a-kind jewels. From impossibly chunky rings to necklace assemblages that feature artful arrangements of aesthetically pleasing detritus, there’s something slightly left-of-center for every eco-lovin’ stylista. The jeweler’s bling-a-ling actually seems as though it’s chiseled right out of the earth’s crust with an ice pick, which happens to be a good thing in this particular case because it showcases the unrefined brilliance of purely organic, terrestrial mineral deposits in simply spectacular glory. Waste is the name of the game for self-described “upcycling” textile designer Laura Anne Marsden, who transforms the pox of our culture — discarded plastic bags — into hand-stitched household and fashion accessories that resemble delicate pieces of lace.
Laura Anne Marsden
Taking her inspiration from ornamental Elizabethan-style cuffs and neck ruffles, Marsden has patented her own unique plastic bag sewing technique, dubbed “Eternal Lace,” which, like a snowflake, appears to manifest itself in a wholly original and quite diverse body of art, whether part of her wall flourishes, pillows or wispy necklaces.
Amanda White
Amanda White runs in an entirely different direction by casting vintage fabrics, including ribbon, string, satin and handmade lace, in recycled gold and silver. The result of her mold-free, hand-dipping efforts is one-of-a-kind, filigree wrist cuffs and earrings as well as gilded satin-ribbon rosettes and hand-tied bow-shaped pendants, rings and bracelets that all seem to harken back to a simpler and even more cheerful era. Conveying a decidedly edgier vibe are HourGlassProductions’ and Bike Part Jewelry’s oddly alluring yet clearly eco-sheik recycled bicycle chain jewels. Elevating the humble mechanical workings of our society’s greenest form of transportation into raw, street-savvy neck and wrist candy, both demonstrate that fashion accessories shouldn’t have to conform to a preconceived template in order to make a bold and utterly memorable statement. Naturally, you can tinker with your own harvested chain creation, but as tempting as it may be, please resist the urge to pilfer someone else’s ride. Go to a thrift store, garage sale or salvage company instead for your bike-bling-to-be.