Walking down Brick Lane, Portobello or Camden Passage you can see vintage jewellery, antiques that look like family heirlooms to 80s neon rings or lighting earrings. There are a number of jewellery designers that take old or discarded objects and use them to create new pieces.
It takes a good eye for detail to spot something good in a pile of junk. “My eyes are trained,” says Maria Zureta designer Roberto Costa, who explains that years of experience of working with vintage jewellery have taught him how to find real quality. He sees the importance in saving materials that can be reused “I love being able to give another chance to an object.”
However it is not just the opportunity of a bargain that can be found at these markets or the fact that vintage objects can give pieces real character, but the fact that this is a sustainable way to create interesting and beautiful jewellery. Clementine James, the designer behind Little Glass Clementine says “We live on a finite planet, our resources are dwindling and as artists we need to inspire people to move away from mass-produced fashion.”
“We have enough intriguing objects and beautiful jewellery already made scattered around the globe.” Clementine emphasises the fact that these pieces have character and each individual object has a story. “I try to create a personality in each piece, one that hopefully resonates with others.”
Elspeth Walker, the designer behind Sweetlime loves the fact that vintage tribal pieces she uses have a whole history behind them, adding another dimension to her jewelry. “It may be possible to make these pieces now, but they will never have the same feel of natural aging and warmth,” she says. “These pieces give the new piece an absolute sense of uniqueness.”
Girandoles designers Isabelle and Louise have collected numerous objects to prepare for jewellery in the event of a great idea “we gradually formed a ‘war chest,’ a great stock in terms of quantity, quality and diversity. This is our wealth!.” Boticca describe their line as quirky, whimsical added with some humour, the pieces are transformed into fun and detailed jewellery. Isabelle and Louise describe the process and reworking of objects stating that “each object is thus restored to a different purpose.”
Jolita Jewellery’s designer Algis Abromaitis visits London’s markets several times a week, where he sorts through piles of jewellery looking for pieces to use in his designs. This allows him to use a wide range of different styles and materials “I like incorporating vintage jewelry into my designs as it gives them a new lease of life.” Each piece of Jolita Jewellery is unique and truly original, made from a collaboration of vintage objects.
Vintage, antiques, reusable materials can be found everywhere and in all shapes and sizes, there is a whole art of salvage, reworking and integrating different materials. Recycling old objects is not only a great way to make unique and beautiful jewellery but also sustainable and environmentally friendly.