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Can You Upcycle Old Jewelry?

Upcycling has become extremely popular nowadays, especially with the rising cost of consumer goods since about the 2000s. Even though finances and the stock market are constantly fluctuating, people’s innovative methods of upcycling anything from cars to art remain amazing.


It’s the same with jewelry! Upcycling old jewelry is a perfect way to reuse existing pieces to create something brand new, especially if you are on a tight budget! The sky is truly the limit with how old jewelry can be reused. Two of the primary methods for using old jewelry are heirloom pieces and old gold jewelry.



What is Repurposed Jewelry?

Pile of mixed Jewelry

“Beauty is who you are. Jewelry is simply the icing on the cake.” - Missy Burgess


Repurposed jewelry can come from partially anywhere! You might already have some pieces, like old rings, that you have saved that you might want to reuse. Or, it could be a bracelet that you see in an antique store that isn’t really your style, but you love the color of the gold. Perhaps you inherited a bunch of jewelry from your great-grandmother that you aren’t sure what to do with.


Repurposing jewelry is actually a time-honored tradition that many people have never actually heard of or thought to implement! But once you are introduced to the concept, you never want to buy new again!


There are many benefits to using old jewelry, including:


Save Money: Reusing all or parts of an existing piece is going to save you money at your favored custom jewelry store. Going with repurposed jewelry means that you don’t have to buy brand new and could potentially add a personal touch that a new piece is missing.


Update an Older Piece: Old jewelry can be used to update an existing piece, such as with loose gemstones. We all have those rings, necklaces, or bracelets that have lost stones; sometimes,it's only one at a time, but sometimes our jewelry can get damaged and multiple loose stones. Using these stones to update a new piece is always a great idea!


Work Towards a More Ethical Jewelry Business: The jewelry business has always had a cloud over it, because of unethical jewelry practices. Although it ranges with precisely what that means in the United States and abroad, there is always a chance that reusing old jewelry can contribute to better ethical practices.


Help the Environment: Falling under ethical jewelry practices is ethical and sustainable mining practices. Although this one is more difficult, since mining is destructive to the environment in any form, there are ways to minimize the overall impact. If you already have gold or stones, you can repurpose them instead of buying new ones.

Two options for creating unique pieces out of old jewelry are to use heirloom jewelry or recycle gold jewelry.



Reuse Heirloom Jewelry

“Jewelry is something that has to do with emotion. That aspect of jewelry really interests me.” - Ann Demeulemeester


The definition of heirloom jewelry is jewelry that is generational, passed down through family members. This could be from parents to children or a piece that is passed down through many generations. All jewelry can be considered an heirloom!

Some examples of heirloom jewelry include:

  • Grandma’s costume jewelry, consisting of old rings, bracelets, and necklaces

  • A baby’s jewelry that their parents saved to pass onto their children

  • An engagement ring passed down from parents to children, or grandparents to grandchildren

  • Tiaras worn by grandma’s that they give their daughters for their weddings

  • A father’s or uncle’s gold watch

  • Grandma’s brooches from her time touring Europe

  • Even a pocket watch kept in the family since Victorian times

However, heirloom jewelry isn’t always to everyone’s taste. Our great-grandparents or grandparents might have favored chunky jewelry with lots of colors. Your particular taste might be more delicate, less bulky, and potentially more “refined.” And there’s nothing wrong with that! Everyone has their own taste, but an heirloom piece is something that has meaning to either the owner, or a member of their family.


That’s why heirloom jewelry is perfect for repurposing! Another method for using repurposed jewelry is to recycle or upcycle your existing gold jewelry.



Recycle Gold Jewelry

A Large Mass of Gold Jewelry

“Jewelry is like the perfect spice - it always complements what’s already there.” - Diane von Furstenberg


Most people have seen the “sell your gold” advertisements, giving you a dollar amount for trading in your gold. Many of these methods include mail-away options, pawnshops, or specialty coin shops. In fact, almost 90% of recycled gold in the United States comes from selling existing gold jewelry!


But, there are many more uses for your gold jewelry than just selling it!


One way to recycle gold jewelry is to take it to your preferred jeweler for reuse in new piece. Your jeweler will have multiple methods for reusing: if it's a chain, the links could be repurposed, an old ring could have the settings reused, or the entire piece could be melted down for a new jewelry mold. This is potentially a significant cost saving for you, since the price of gold often fluctuates. By providing your own, there’s a chance it could save you thousands off the initial price of gold!


There are several, other advantages to recycling your older gold jewelry. Gold mining is an environmentally destructive process: recycling your existing gold means you don’t have to buy it brand new. Recycling also avoids potential participation in unethical gold mining practices, which reduces potential humanitarian conflicts. These are just some of the reasons to recycle your gold jewelry!



Create Modern Anniversary Gifts

“You can’t cry on a diamond’s shoulder, and diamonds won’t keep you warm at night, but they’re sure fun when the sun shines” - Elizabeth Taylor


One particle use of repurposed jewelry is to create new, modern anniversary gifts for your significant other.


Not all significant others want to wear a more vintage look and would prefer a more contemporary piece for either a unique engagement ring or wedding band. Modern jewelry has a sleek look to it that is different from most older designs. That’s where consulting your preferred jeweler about designs will be key: since many people have different ideas about what “contemporary” or “modern” means, the right design is key!



Your Custom Jewelry Store

“Wear a fabulous smile, great jewelry, and know that you are totally and utterly in control.” - Donatella Versace


Carats and Stones’ expert artisans can assist you in recycling old jewelry into brand new, beautiful jewelry pieces. One of our specialties is in creating unique engagement rings for both men and women. By reusing heirloom jewelry, loose gemstones, and more, we can make the engagement ring of your dreams!


Our founder, Linda Kha, has over forty years of experience in creating jewelry that is truly unique to each person. She has experience in traditional goldsmithing techniques, procuring one-of-a-kind stones, and much more! Whether you are a young couple looking to create special wedding bands, made out of old jewelry, or a family looking to use grandma’s jewelry collection for something new, Linda and her staff have got you covered!


We are your custom jewelry store for all of your needs! You can visit our San Francisco store to speak to one of our designers or book a virtual consultation here!





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