While I was sorting through my recycling the other day it occurred to me that the most recyclable thing in your household is probably your jewellery. Nobody (that I know of) deliberately throws their old jewellery in the bin. Admittedly, unlike a plastic bag or the banana, the jewellery has a built in safety valve – its value. But even costume jewellery doesn’t go into the bin; it goes to a grandchild for their dress-up box, or to the charity shop, or gets pulled apart and remade into something contemporary to sell at a craft fair.
Recycling precious jewellery happens in several ways too. It can be sold for scrap to a metal dealer, but the only way you’ll get anything close to its proper value is if it’s hallmarked, because then the dealer is obliged to give you the going rate for scrap metal. You can be fairly certain that if it isn’t hallmarked you’ll get the lowest carat value for your treasures. Fair enough, actually, because even if the vendor in Crete promised you it’s 22ct gold, the metal dealer on the high street in England would be wise not to take their word for it. I know, I’ve been there…
Another way to recycle your jewellery is to have the stones taken out, the metal melted down, and something completely new made, using your stones again. The ultimate upcycle. This is actually really great fun because you can work with your jeweller on the design and come away with a truly bespoke piece recovered from Granny’s tired, but lovely, jewels. You can then have this new piece sent to the Assay office to be hallmarked, and then if the time comes when you’ve just had enough of it – or you need a £ or two – at least you know you’ll be getting what the scrap metal is worth.
Polly always said she wouldn’t be repurposing any Granny jewellery, but then she was asked by a good client to give a wonderful emerald a new life, and she had to rethink her stand. The client chose the style of ring she liked from our website, and Polly said she’d do her best… The transformation was fabulous, the client was delighted, and the emerald came back to life. A new line for the business had been found.
And at PGG we recycle our jewellery all the time; we call it ‘phoenixing’ a piece because it goes under the flame and rises again as something new – obvious choice of words then! We don’t do it very often, but occasionally when we’re going through the stock (entertaining the magpie…) we’ll agree that something needs to be phoenixed because it’s never had much attention and could be made into something more saleable. The huge advantage for us is that the only metal Polly uses is 22ct so she doesn’t have to have the metal refined before she uses it again. And she gets to keep designing and making, even in slow periods. Win, win.
For a magpie, of course, recycling jewellery is a bonus – two pieces of jewellery for the price of one. Heaven.