Brands are giving new life to old models by recycling precious metals and more common materials. What if upcycling was the future of jewelry?
In 2021, to offer new jewelry, it is not essential to use new materials. Indeed, a growing number of jewels are made from recycled materials or metals. Gold, for example, can be recycled ad infinitum. Elise Tsikis, creator of the brand that bears her name, favors recycled 24-carat gold. “The extraction pollutes a lot, not to mention the disastrous working conditions in the mines. But there are astronomical quantities of gold on the market. The latter comes in particular from electronic objects, which integrate it because of its very good resistance to corrosion and its excellent electrical conductivity. Another advantage: it is more attractive in terms of price. "For us, it's a huge gain, it costs us twenty-six times less to transform it than extracted gold," continues Elise Tsikis. The small labels are not the only ones on the niche: by 2025, Pandora plans to design all of its collections from recycled materials. The brand has just announced that it is giving up natural diamonds in favor of synthetic stones.
Jewelry recycling can take many forms. For gold, just melt it down and reshape it. You can also upcycle pieces, i.e. transform and sublimate them. Thus, Gas Bijoux launched “Second Life”, an operation which consists in recovering old creations from customers to rework and reuse them – against a discount voucher of 10 to 20%. “We have always repaired pieces from past collections. Our craftsmen in Marseille check that they are still usable, and if so, they use them to create new models,” explains Louis Bompard, communication director for Gas Bijoux.
Some brands choose to innovate with materials that, at first glance, have nothing to do with the world of jewelry. Like The Cled, a high-end label from Los Angeles (and whose name refers to “recycled”). Its two creators collect glass bottles to transform them into necklaces, rings or earrings. The result is surprising and poetic. Another material explored: resin. Thus, at Tétier Bijoux, launched by artistic director Florence Tétier, pairs of earrings or rings evoke strange and flashy flowers. Perfect for creating an original and sharp look.
thecled.com. Instagram @tetierbijoux
For clothing as for jewelry, if the materials are of high quality, they can stand the test of time. Claire Roche is convinced of this. In 2019, the young woman launched Nu Atelier, a unisex jewelry brand for which she works exclusively from recycled solid silver and solid 18-karat yellow gold. All the pieces are made in the Drôme, with the help of a certified foundry-refiner – who verifies the origin and quality of the metals. "You can keep my pieces for years," says Claire Roche. If you get tired of them, it is always possible to melt them. For the designer, it's durability that takes precedence: she frees herself from "primers", these clasps present on many jewels but difficult to source, and therefore imagines bracelets or ear cuffs that don't have any.