Recycling, Reusing & Remodelling Jewellery

To say I’m passionate about jewellery, caring for it and considering what happens to an item when you know longer wish to wear it, is a slight understatement. I’m Rebekah, the proud owner and creator of Rebekah Ann Jewellery. A purposeful, sustainable and eco conscious jeweller & brand. My jewellery and business has evolved and developed as I’ve started to question practices within the trade and asked myself if I could make jewellery in a more considered way.

Jewellery is so much more than just something we wear. It evokes memories. It can be a gift to represent a significant moment in time and it can even change your mood. If we pause for a moment and think of someone we’ve not seen for a while and break down the image in our mind’s eye, I bet you have a certain item of jewellery that you remember alongside that person.

There’s a joy and even a beauty in recycling, reusing, repairing, remodelling & reducing which I’ve come to discover over the years.  Clothing, furniture, and household products seem to be the go to in this area, but what about jewellery? This tends to be missing from the conversation.

Before Upcycling:

But why am I passionate about recycling jewellery? Precious metals and stones do not regenerate, once we extract them from the earth that’s it. Of the current below ground gold reserves that we currently know of, if we continue at the current rate of mining these reserves will be used up in less than 20 years. As so much gold has already been mined we need to look at recycling as much of these precious metals as possible, including from electronic devices.

Not only this, but for every 1 gram of gold mined it generates approx 36,400 grams of CO2e whereas for every 1 gram of recycled gold 53 grams of CO2e are generated. That’s a huge difference of over 600 times less CO2e for recycled gold. As Gold can be recycled indefinitely, it means something you are wearing now can be passed on and reworked for generations and generations to come. It can literally become a melting pot of stories and memories. So before you banish your jewellery to a life in your jewellery box, or worse, mistakenly bin those odd 9ct earring backs, here’s a few ideas to get you loving your precious items again.

Mid Process:

Recycling Jewellery Tips:

1) First up, repairing. Gold and silver jewellery can be repaired. There’s a few exceptions to silver, depending where in the world it was made (different chemicals involved in the making process which are released when heated) but largely it is safe and easy to get your jewellery repaired. There are specialist repair companies and most independent jewellers offer these services or can recommend someone. There does come a point when some jewellery can no longer be repaired, but sections can be replaced, or the entire item can be remodelled.

2) Upcycle: I’m talking about those odd earrings Or perhaps a broken necklace? These can easily (depending on the design) be upcycled. An earring can become a pendant with minimum effort. A broken necklace could become a bracelet with just a little hidden solder join.

End Result:

3) Remodelling (essentially recycling) your jewellery. This is when we use jewellery you already own that you do not wear and turn it into something you’ll love to wear everyday. This is perfect for that outdated sentimental jewellery, or even the odd bits of jewellery you have that just sit in your jewellery box. Keep hold of all your jewellery elements. Those odd earring backs and broken bits of chain.All this can be reused to make a new item of jewellery or be put towards a new design, saving you some money and reusing this valuable resource.

Making Your Jewellery Last:

To maintain the life of your jewellery I suggest removing items when showering/bathing, gardening, swimming and working out. I would also recommend removing rings when washing up, baking and applying moisturiser. Not only will it protect your rings but it’ll protect you from developing what is known within the jewellery trade as wedding ring rash. People believe they have suddenly become allergic to their ring they’ve worn for years when in actual fact the rash it’s caused by moisture trapped under your rings and your finger not being able to dry or breathe.

To keep your jewellery looking fresh, use a soft babies tooth brush to generally remove dirt and grease. Be careful of jewellery dips as these can have the opposite effect and damage your jewellery if not used correctly. It can also be beneficial to get a jeweller to check over your special pieces, much like you’d get a car serviced.

But what about fast fashion jewellery? There is little that can be done to repair most fast fashion jewellery items but there are a few options to recycle these as well as helping a charity at the same time.

Here are a few I have learnt about:

Brain Tumour Research

Alzheimer’s Society:

Poverty Child

Water Aid

Orangutan Foundation

Medaille Trust

Recycling for good causes (works with over 500 charities)

Now I don’t know the process in which these items are recycled, how they are recycled and what is done with the items. But it looks like an interesting and great way to recycle these tricky items that can so often just be put in the bin or driven to a local dump!

For me, being a sustainable and eco conscious jeweller means using recycled materials within my work and packaging. I exclusively offer closed loop post consumer recycled gold for my jewellery and welcome remodelling work as mentioned above. I use recycled stones and Ocean diamonds to limit the amount of new mining connected to stones in my jewellery and I’ve recently started work on a new jewellery concept which looks to the Japanese wisdom and aesthetic Wabi sabi, finding beauty in the imperfect. Excitingly working with suppliers to use their otherwise dead stock that aren’t financially viable to be recut. I want to question what we call beautiful and help stop this culture of degrading anything that isn’t considered perfect.

Writer’s Bio – Rebekah Ann is an eco conscious Goldsmith and proud owner of Rebekah Ann Jewellery a purposeful, sustainable jewellery brand. Find out more about Rebekah’s story and products by clicking here.