I love upcycling. As an earth scientist, naturally I appreciate the “green” angle of recycling material and preserving scarce resources. But honestly, I get more excited about seeing the pleasure people get from transforming underworn jewelry into new pieces that will be worn regularly and amply enjoyed.
Typically, people upcycle jewelry that is meaningful to them, and more often than not these jewelry items have a particular story attached to them. The new piece of jewelry bridges the past and the future: it honors the memory of the story, and serves as an object that can take on new and enhanced meaning in the years to come. I find these stories incredibly moving, and I love how they imbue upcycled jewelry with rich meaning.
Here’s a great example of what I mean. Recently, I completed a custom design for a client who attended one of my trunk shows. She fell in love with my Madagascar sapphire open cluster ring. Toward the end of the show, she approached me about commissioning a custom design similar to the ring but incorporating a stone from a piece of jewelry she already owned.
That piece of jewelry was her engagement ring, the stone was a beautiful diamond…and she is a widow. She wore her engagement ring for a while after her spouse passed away, but at some point she set it aside in a drawer and couldn’t bring herself to start wearing it again. It felt funny, she said, to wear a very traditional-looking engagement ring any longer. A new ring incorporating the diamond in a fashion-forward piece, as she saw it, would honor her marriage and the memory of her spouse while also being a fresh design that was a fitting adornment for the new adventures ahead in her life.
I had to pause here when writing this blog post because I teared up. I was really touched by this project. I love this client’s optimism, strength, and determination to—I'm going to borrow my mother's favorite phrase here—“walk on the sunny side of the street.” She could have left the ring in the drawer indefinitely, but instead she chose to celebrate the past while leaping into the future. The ring, I think, is an amazing symbol of her commitment to moving ahead and to continuing to make life beautiful despite the inevitable sorrows and disappointments.
The original engagement ring setting and the E|E custom design incorporating the center diamond are shown below. As a bonus, we were even able to make a pendant necklace out of the accent diamonds in the original ring.
Have something you'd like to upcycle? Please get in touch!