If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to clean out your junk drawers, you’re likely to come across out-of-date, broken and mismatched jewelry. You can let it collect dust at the bottom of a jewelry box, or you can try repurposing it into something you’ll actually use. Recycling jewelry is becoming increasingly popular because it’s good for the environment, budget-friendly and fun. Here are some tips to make your forgotten treasures sparkle again in the new year.
Preserve Sentimental Pieces
Have you inherited fine jewelry with sentimental value that is too ugly or broken to wear? Consider transforming it into something new, an heirloom that can be worn with pride. Many jewelers will melt down old gold and silver and create something new with it to your specifications. This is an especially sweet thing to do when planning a wedding; create a unique new wedding band from antique or sentimental hand-me-down pieces.
Craftier types might want to try melting metals themselves with a hand-held torch and a Borax-coated crucible and molding them into something homemade. Be sure to separate the jewelry by metal type before you start and remove any stones from the jewelry. Cut the metal into small pieces before applying heat with the torch, and always wear proper safety gear like goggles and gloves. Carefully pour the molten metal into a mold and, voilà, a new piece of jewelry is born.
Piece Together a Whole New Look
Recycle old jewelry into new, stylish pieces. A lone earring makes a great addition to a charm bracelet. An interesting buckle becomes the focal point of a beaded necklace. Small, girlhood jewelry, like tiny rings or religious symbols, can be incorporated into charm bracelets as well. Odd beads and stones can be wire wrapped and joined together to create a one-of-a-kind statement piece. Completely redesign an antiquated piece of metal jewelry by combining some of its components with macramé, leather or beads for a funky, modern update.
Repurpose Your Jewelry As-Is
When is an earring not an earring? When it’s worn as a brooch, of course. Lots of old jewelry can be repurposed almost as-is. That super-long necklace you never wear could become a fantastic knotted belt or replace the broken chain on an old purse. A pair of oversized earrings could be remade into shoe clips. Chain link bracelets of different thicknesses and metals could be linked together to create one long, interesting necklace or belt. The possibilities are endless.
Think Outside the (Jewelry) Box
Recycling jewelry doesn’t always mean fashioning it into new things to wear. Old jewelry can be incorporated into your home décor. Make charms and stones into crafty lamp and fan pulls or use strands of beads to tie back draperies. Create a sparkling collage with old rhinestones or fill a jar with shiny trinkets for a unique display on the mantelpiece. Use pieces of old jewelry to create special cards or decorative giftwrap. Fill ornaments, paperweights and lamps with interesting old jewelry around the home, or embed beads and metal jewelry components in cement to create mosaic stepping stones for the garden.
No matter how you recycle your old jewelry this winter, breathing new life into old things is an exciting and life-affirming way to start the year.