From the garbage bin to a jeweler’s bench to an exhibition space: The question of what happens to fast-fashion jewelry when it isn’t wanted anymore is taking a radical turn through a new partnership between The Jewelry Edit (TJE) and Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM).
Together, The Jewelry Edit, Radical Jewelry Makeover, and Ethical Metalsmiths are transforming not only the perceptions of throwaway jewelry but also the way it can be viewed, revived, and considered through a special collaboration, exhibition, and sale, says organizer and TJE founder Rosena Sammi.
The project, which began in February, asks jewelers, designers, and consumers to think about how jewelry is made, the impact of its consumption and eventual disposal, and whether the jewelry industry as a whole can rethink that process for the better, Sammi says.
“It was such a privilege to do this with the Radical Jewelry Makeover because we’re in the business of selling jewelry, but a huge part of our mission is to focus on ethically made jewelry and raise the voices of diverse jewelers,” Sammi says. “What it highlighted for us was that we want people to think about ethically made jewelry while also allowing our designers to learn, to have fun, and to think outside of the box.”
Here’s how it started: TJE sought out donations of any kind of jewelry, whether high-end pieces or everyday consumables. People turned in jewelry that still had price tags on it and was unworn for untold years, Sammi says. Each participating designer got to review what was available and received some surprise pieces as well to turn into a new piece of jewelry, she says.
Participants include Brooklyn, N.Y.–based designer Lauren Newton, who received a brass cuff and an array of costume earrings; artist Jill Herlands, who received amethysts, pearls, and silver earrings; and Lorraine West, who worked with a donated silver chain among other pieces. Other designers whose pieces will be in the exhibit are Judy Geib, Dominique Renée, Mabel Chong, and Katey Walker.
The resulting “new to you” jewelry designs will be exhibited for sale from April 28 to May 7 at the Jewelry Library in New York. The public also can meet a selection of the participating jewelers in a gallery talk and reception each Saturday afternoon during the exhibition, Sammi says.
To celebrate Earth Day as part of the TJE x RJM project, Sammi and the team organized an online viewing of River of Gold, an Amazon Aid Foundation documentary that explains the problem of illicit gold mining in the Amazon rainforest and how it is threatening that region and beyond. The Zoom film and discussion is scheduled for 12–1 p.m. on Friday.
Jewelry recycling is part of the business of being a jeweler, but finding a way to take what might have gone into a garbage pile because it was broken or out of fashion was meaningful to all who participated, Sammi says.
“They wanted to create pieces that represented the mission behind the project, so it had to be transformative. But it also had to stay true to the DNA of their individual brands,” Sammi says. “It was a challenging experience on many levels, not only because of the pieces they received but the time frame as well.”
Top: Jewelry designer and artist Lorraine West created a ring from the recycled materials she received as part of a project between the Jewelry Edit and Radical Jewelry Makeover that will be part of an exhibit and sale this month (photos courtesy of the Jewelry Edit).@jckmagazine
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