Costume jewelry can be so many things; expensive designer as well as very affordable “no-name” pieces. Most often when we hear the term “costume jewelry”, we think of classic designer pieces from the 1920s to 1970s – Chanel, Miriam Haskell, Trifari, etc.
But it can also be new pieces – Merriam Webster defines costume jewellery as “jewelry designed for wear with current fashions and usually made of inexpensive materials“. And what could be more inexpensive than recycled items?
We are all trying to be good about recycling, re-using and upcycling these days, and some designers have taken this to new levels. All this creativity so inspiring! You’ll see that pretty much anything can be turned into wearable art, and once you’re done reading this article, take a look around your house – you will probably find plenty of potential jewelry supplies that you may not have noticed before.
I’m straying a bit here – these are not all charms or charm bracelets, but I just could not resist sharing them. Here are some of my favorite recent discoveries:
Chicago artist Betsy Treacy creates necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets from colorful vintage postage stamps from all over the world. Each piece is handmade and unique; no two are identical, and they make for great conversation pieces and gifts (how about a pendant made from a Norwegian stamp for your friend from Oslo?)
The husband and wife artist team behind The Cottage Path Boutique make beautiful bracelets from old silverplate spoons. The spoons are cut and shaped into two halves, and then connected with chain and rings. Some have charms, some don’t. They also make gorgeous pendants, earrings and key rings – all from old spoons.
Photos: The Cottage Path Boutique
Michigan-based Joy of Joy’s Jewels turns old typewriter keys (as well as old cash register and pay phone keys) into bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, watch bands and cufflinks. Sometimes the bracelets spell out something, sometimes not. My favorites are (of course) the bracelets with one single key charm – so cute!
Photos: Joy’s Jewels
Coins have been used as charms for quite a long time. In the 1800s they were often used as romantic gifts or souvenirs and were known as “love tokens”. People would sand one side down and then carve a name or a message into it. Artisan Jessie Driscoll is taking this old tradition to new fabulous heights. Using vintage US coins, she sands one side, create designs by hammering and forging, and shapes the coin into a dome. Some are used “as is”, and on the altered pieces, you will see the original coin on the back. She creates charm bracelets (both loaded and with just one charm), bracelets without charms, necklaces, earrings, pendants, and key rings. I think they’re beautiful, and I’m not alone – her jewelry has been picked up by celebrities like Fergie, Liz Phair, Donna Karan and Avril Lavigne.
Photos: Jessie Driscoll
These stunning pieces by award-winning Turkish architect Gülnur Özdaglar are made from recycled PET bottles. Gülnur started making jewelry (and home decor items) from PET bottles in 2008, and her aim was to create beautiful objects from discarded products, thereby encouraging others to do the same. If I could create things like these from my old bottles, I’d be thrilled!
Photos: Gülnur Özdaglar