These Coral Bracelets Are Right Up(cycled) My Alley

Days before the New Year, JCK’s editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky shared three predictions as to what the next decade will look like for all of us with in a stake in the jewelry industry.

Sustainability is going to be even more of a big deal in the 2020s, and one of many ways to jump on that bandwagon, according to Gomelsky, is “to support upcycling, the act of creatively transforming by-products, waste materials, or unwanted goods into new products. At the high end, jewelers like New York–based Brent Neale and Paris-based Elie Top have made upcycling a signature of their work, extracting valuable gems from clients’ fussy old jewels and placing them in new settings that actually get worn.”

I adore collecting jewelry, but, honestly, upcycling is my new M.O. I feel guilty about the pieces I rarely wear, the ones that enchanted me when I was in my 20s and 30s but seem lackluster now that I am routinely exposed to some of the best jewelry on the planet,

Until recently, I was in possession of a very retro triple-row angel skin coral beaded bracelet. I loved it, but I never wore it.

I sent a picture of it to Estelle Newman of Harry & Daughter, wondering if any of the designers she works with might be interested in the material.

Angel skin coral bracelet before
The retro angel skin coral bracelet that was gathering dust in my jewelry box

She had a better idea: Take the beads, make them into stretch bracelets, and add a little something special to make them pop. So we added a vintage carved coral bead and two green beads (possibly jade) from Newman’s collection to each. I wanted to make them feel a little more glamorous, so we sourced some 14k gold beads in the Diamond District and attached a few gold charms from a charm bracelet I have (and also wear infrequently).

The final result:

Coral and green beads after
My retro angel skin coral bracelet’s second wind—I’m in love

And I love the moment below, captured at the 1st Dibs showcase during NYC Jewelry Week 2019, in which I’ve stacked the beaded bracelets with a couple of Mark Davis bangles made with vintage Bakelite. Just to tie a pretty little bow on the theme of reclaiming and reimagining vintage materials to create something shiny and new.

coral bracelets with Mark davis bangles
Trying out my trio of coral bead bracelets stacked with Mark Davis bangles


Top: Always be upcycling! I worked with @harryanddaughterjewels to reimagine an old bracelet into this fun stack of coral bead stretch bracelets.


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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