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Upcycling – waste not want not

Upcycling has been something of a fashion in some circles for a while, but what is it?  On the face of it upcycling is simply making one new item out of one or more old items, and when it comes to jewellery this opens some really exciting prospects.

Upcycled jewellery ranges from that made by salvaging older unwanted or broken items of jewellery, such as these examples from one of my current favourites The Upcycle Jewellery Company:

Upcycle Bee

tinkerbell upcycle

But it often goes further – some of the most interesting pieces of upcycling we have seen are when jewellery is created from items that didn’t start out as jewellery:

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school...I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school…I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

…and if you’ve ever wondered what to do with those old keys you have loitering you definitely need to look at the Upcycle Jewellery Co website for inspiration!

These fabulous earrings by Urban Raven, who has some really creative uses for what some might think of as junk, are made from old Israeli telephone tokens:

upcycle urban raven

We also love her use of stamps, what a great way to make a unique and personalised piece of jewellery!

 stamp ring urban raven 

As a bit of a button fiend myself I was delighted to find Button Jewellery with their delicate yet eyecatching approach to jewellery

Bright rainbow button necklace

Including a fab way to #bringbackthebrooch:

Terracotta, Orange and Mustard Button Brooch

From the maker of the above also comes Unexpected Boutique with some serious statement necklaces!

beachcomber-necklace-2a   safety-pin-necklace-bust-new

 

 

Whilst these pieces look great they also are almost always pretty unique; even if you’re buying something from a maker who regularly makes the same or similar items they are ALWAYS going to be just a little bit different from the next piece, as is the joy of upcycling.  It’s also such a great way to remember that your junk can become something beautiful too, so maybe think on before you chuck it away!

 

We always love to hear from makers of unusual and upcycled pieces, do get in touch if you would like to feature on the blog!

 

 

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Jewellery Maker goody bag

You may remember back in June that we managed to win a competition on Jewellery Maker for a strand of jewellery (lucky us!) as if this wasn’t exciting enough take a look at what actually arrived on our doorstep:

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Yes a wonderful goodie bag, when the package was opened, not only did it contain the fabulous strand of amethyst mentioned in our blog post:

 

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but a whole host of goodies!  Having promised to make something with this I immediately had an inspiration for a fabulous necklace so got a sketch down (inspired by Tiffany…not that I am over ambitious or anything…) ready to show my co-blogger and chief jewellery maker to see how realistic I was being.  More on this another time however, I would hate to spoil the surprise!

In our goodie bag was a host of goodies, tipping it out was a great experience even for a making novice like me.

 

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The amount of material was staggering – we had lots and lots of threading materials ranging from nylon threads, wire and cord.  I wanted to give you the links to everything, but when I went to check out the Jewellery Maker website for threading materials there were just far too many!  I started getting carried away (…do I really need Sari yarn…?  I want it but have no idea what to do with it…if you use it do get in touch and show us what you make)

 

 

 

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There wasn’t just enough additional items to make one or two items, there was enough to make LOADS!  What we haven’t included in the pictures are all the findings also included which are a bit daunting I must admit so as well as listening to pearls of wisdom from my co-blogger I intend to check out the Jewellery Maker YouTube channel for some tips.

We were particularly impressed with the beautiful blue dyed pearls and the aluminium chain (I have literally no idea how this would work but Deborah assures me with the right tools it can be used) and another fab two strands we are hunting down the name of.

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From Egypt to Hollywood, the evolution of costume jewellery

The term ‘costume jewellery’ was initially used in the early 20th century to describe imitation jewels and gems that fashion designers would create to complement their clothes, hence costume jewellery.

They were made from inexpensive materials such as glass, base metals and plastic. Although thought of a modern invention due to their mass production, this type of inexpensive jewellery can be traced back through to ancient times, from the Egyptians, through the middle ages, and medieval times.

In the early 18th century there was a greater prosperity within the middle classes who wanted to dress to impress, diamonds were, however, extremely expensive and relatively scarce.  The solution was a new glass imitation – paste. This hard brilliant glass could be cut and polished to produce ‘gems’ with a convincing sparkle. The most stylish pieces were bold and extravagant, some jewels were spring mounted and swayed when you moved. Examples of which can be found in the jewel room at the V&A quivering as you walk past!

1950s paste & faux pearl necklace

1950s paste & faux pearl necklace

 

Around 1720 ‘Pinchbeck’ (named after Christopher Pinchbeck) came into being an alloy of copper and zinc that successfully mimicked gold, and retained its colour without tarnish, it could also be worked and decorated in the same way as gold. The formula was widely imitated by other manufacturers and it remained popular until it gradually became replaced by rolled gold and other gilt metals.

These early discoveries led onto other technological advances and over the centuries a number of jewellery styles emerged which embraced the costume jewellery ethos. Unlike much of the costume jewellery available today these pieces were exquisitely made by highly skilled craftsmen.  They were often quality pieces which despite their intrinsic value stood the test of time and are still valuable and fashionable today!

When the United States entered World War II, base metals such as brass were rationed which led many of these costume jewellery manufacturers to start using sterling silver in their ranges.  An example of this is below in this 1940s brooch and earring set by American brand VanDell.

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In the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood glamour came to town and a number of costume jewellery brands began making mass market statement pieces, early examples often imitating precious Art Deco jewels, this heralded the era of the ‘cocktail style’ and we still use the term ‘cocktail ring’ to describe a big, bold, bling ring; usually inexpensively made.

 

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A number of jewellery manufacturers from this era are now highly collectable names in the vintage jewellery market, and we will look at a few of these designers in a future post…

 

 

 

 

The charitable approach to jewellery

We’re both fans of charity shop jewellery bargains, and there are plenty of them to be had around here (more on this in a different post!) but the idea of charity based jewellery itself is interesting.

The most obvious one of course is the famous poppy, we pin them to our coats annually and whether you go for the good old pin and paper (how do you get those to work?!), the more modern pin badges or the stunning brooches or other jewellery offered on the poppy shop online (this being a personal favourite) that isn’t all there is to it.

Charity wristbands have been around for a while now, and admittedly they’re not quite the fashionable accessory they once were (you don’t see many people stacking them up any more) they are still a common sight out and about, and still very easy to get hold of.  The big question is, are they jewellery?

On the face of it yes, they are an item worn about the wrist as an accessory, in the same way that you might wear any other bracelet or bangles.  But people presumably don’t purchase these wristbands for the purpose of wearing them as a fashion accessory.  For example I have a Help the Heroes wristband not because it matches an outfit, or looks good, in fact I’ve never worn it.  I bought it because it was a way of supporting the charity and not too expensive…alright and also because my cat likes to play with wristbands so I try to buy them from organisations that I genuinely support.

There have been other examples in the past, such as pin badges, where accessories have been used to demonstrate personal or political messages, so perhaps this is just a follow on from that.  It’s interesting that whereas most of the time people will carefully select jewellery to reflect a piece of their personality or a preference for a certain style, the key thing about an item of jewellery is how it looks.  As far as I can gather the only thing that people are generally demonstrating with their wristbands is their own good nature in purchasing it, and a highlighting of a particular charity, presumably one personal to them.  This makes it quite a unique type of jewellery as it’s one worn not for how it looks but for what it represents.

That said I wonder whether there are people out there scouring charities for a wristband just the right shade of blue to match that bag…let’s hope not, but some people will do anything to stay “in the loupe!”  Either way our closing thoughts on the matter are that whatever the purpose behind the purchase the charity still gets the cash and the wearer raises awareness, whatever their motive.

 

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Flower power

Flowers are definitely the thing to be seen in this season, and with sales on at many high street stores there are bargains to be had, here are a few of our favourite flower bargains from Wallis:

 

IMAG2098   IMAG2099 (2)   Elsewhere on the High Street how about these cute flower studs for a subtle salute to the flower from Dorothy Perkins, and there are several pieces of flower jewellery on offer at H Samuels at the moment too (and there’s a sale on 😉 ).   If you’re feeling flush how about this amazing Tiffany rose gold and amethyst ring. Alternatively Van Cleef and Arples even have several floral collections, although the Socrate bouquet has to be my personal favourite. You could even branch into the world of jewellery incorporating real flowers with the fabulous Shrieking Violet

The stunning mix of real flowers with silver is emphasised even more in this beautiful (and adjustable) ring from the Purple Haze collection

Shrieking Violet butterfly pendant

Beautiful forget me nots in a butterfly pendant

Shrieking Violet Heart pendant

Mixed flower heart shaped pendant

We’re always proud to support the #bringbackthebrooch campaign championed by the fabulous Jewellery Cloud and here are a few choice flower pieces from them!

Brooch

For me this captures the season beautifully – look at those colours

With such great detail and bang on trend turquoise colours it’s hard to believe this wasn’t designed for this year

#bringbackthebrooch

Can I interest you in a dainty piece of art deco-esq bunch!