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Expert Tips on Recycled Jewelry (and Its Impact)

Recycled pearl earrings from Christina Perry
Claudia Earrings

As more and more consumers grow concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases, there is a growing movement to buy "green" products that now extends even to recycled jewelry. "Recycled" does not mean used, however; a unique cadre of jewelry artisans specializes in recreating new and exquisite designs from old pieces of jewelry to meet consumers' environmentally conscious preferences.

LoveToKnow Jewelry was privileged to speak with Christina Perry, a specialist in this type of romantic recycled jewelry, about her techniques and the growing popularity of the green jewelry movement.

About Christina Perry

Photo of Christina Perry, jewelry designer
Christina Perry

Christina Perry, of Christina Perry Design, has been creating unique recycled jewelry for years. She first noticed jewelry at outdoor art festivals and was intrigued by the beautiful designs, but she did not begin recycling jewelry pieces until college, where she was studying for a bachelor's of fine arts degree in interior design. Her first trial - taking her grandmother's jewelry apart to fashion new earrings - was complimented by her friends, and she began selling small pieces to supplement her college income along with creating more pieces for herself than her budget could afford.Today, Christina is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designer (ASID) and creates wistful, romantic jewelry that blends color and beauty with a range of materials and designs unlike any modern pieces.

The Recycled Jewelry Interview

What types of materials do you "recycle" into new jewelry?

I am drawn to vintage jewelry beads and especially the filigree components. I have also worked with Venetian beads for years. I take something pretty and rework it into something more elegant and wearable. About five years ago I started working with semiprecious beads, too. I love mixing the colors and how one brings out the magic of another. I am especially fond of pearls, quartz, jade, turquoise, and lately chalcedony. I like to mix these with vintage glass and Venetian beads.

How long does it take you to design a new piece using vintage materials?

Sometimes the beads themselves are so wonderful that I'll hoard them in my studio for years, before I would use them. Now I am more confident to make pieces sooner. I don't know how to measure how long it takes me to make something, since there are so many steps, the first being to find the materials. I can say that my custom work goes faster since I am making it for a specific person; my customers know what they like.

How does working with jewelry compare to interior design projects?

Being current with fashion trends feeds right in to my interior design work. Both interior design and jewelry design are about color and texture -- balance and rhythm. Making jewelry is more still and peaceful, whereas interior design is more active.

Vintage recycled necklace and earrings set
Vintage Recycled Set

What are your favorite types of designs to create?

My favorite designs are the ones that make people the happiest, the ones that women feel the prettiest. I love the princess and feminine pieces for myself, yet, I am beginning to enjoy simpler and more modern designs as well.

Are there any types of pieces that cannot be effectively redesigned?

I would say there are pieces that should be left as they are. To redo them would devalue them. When I make a valuable cameo into a necklace, I am careful not to alter the cameo itself. I have made these necklaces in such a way that you could detach the new necklace and the heirloom is intact.

Where do you find many of your materials for recycled jewelry pieces?

Antique stores and high-end antique markets.

How do recycled prices compare to "new" jewelry pieces?

The prices range from $35 to $155 for earrings and $125 to $325 for original pieces. The prices are due to the value of the beads -- how rare they are -- and the artistry of my designs. When I rework someone's heirloom, the price is based on the beads and components I add and design/production time, which works out to be less than buying a finished piece from my line.

How should individuals care for redesigned jewelry pieces?

Jewelry seems to come into more danger off the person than on, like if it's swimming around loose in their handbag or stuffed into their boyfriend's jean pocket. Use common sense and organization and care is easy. I recommend jewelry boxes with several compartments so pieces don't get tangled up with one another.

Customers often incorporate my display ideas into their home decor, such as hanging earrings on a vintage teacup or wine glass. Necklaces can be hung on small nail and thus enjoyed as art when not worn.

Why do you think "green" jewelry is a growing trend today?

People are becoming more conscious of their "carbon" footprint. Even though a piece of jewelry takes up a minimal amount of physical space, what did it take to make it, and ship it? People realize the value of supporting artists, rather than buying mass-produced items. They sense the gift of the artist's joy and love that went into the piece whenever they wear it. My work is green not just because I use vintage beads, but because my lifestyle attempts to be.Also there is renewed appreciation for things well made. Many of these beads just aren't made anymore, and there is history in how they where originally produced.

Thank You, Christina Perry!

LoveToKnow Jewelry would like to thank Christina Perry for sharing her insights into recycled jewelry. For more information about Christina's designs, including her bridal line and other jewelry, visit her website at or call (406) 624-6912. For more information on interior design, visit LoveToKnow Interior Design.

Expert Tips on Recycled Jewelry (and Its Impact)