For These Jewellery Designers, All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

While metals, gemstones and pearls have been the staples of jewelry layout for centuries, some makers are now discovering inspiration in a lot more abnormal resources, these types of as glass, horn and wood. Even soda cans.

“Disposable cans and plastics have been regarded inadequate for jewellery,” explained Eunseok Han, a jewelry artist primarily based in Seoul. “However, I assumed we could make wonderful jewelry with these discarded non-cherished supplies.”

In this article are the tales of Ms. Han and four other designers who are functioning to elevate unconventional supplies to jewellery art.

Seoul, South Korea

“I started out generating jewellery with recycled cans in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic began,” Ms. Han, 49, claimed in a online video job interview from her atelier in the Korean funds. She famous that she had been wondering about doing work with discarded objects for some time, but the environmental improvements that occurred during the early lockdowns — like the worldwide drop in greenhouse gases — motivated her to start out experimenting, crafting pieces out of aluminum soda and beer cans.

Pals and loved ones now give her with cans, and she collects some others from recycling bins — separating them by shade and lettering design and style — then slicing just about every can into pieces and using adhesives to glue the items jointly. The last component of the course of action includes using polylactic acid, a renewable plastic normally known as PLA, to affix the aluminum parts around a core in the condition that she desires to build.

“I want vibrant hues,” Ms. Han claimed, incorporating that she sees this eye-catching palette as a way of focusing interest on the lively colours of corals that are disappearing due to the fact of air pollution and world warming. Her assortment consists of earrings, rings, brooches and necklaces, with smaller sized items beginning at $300 and much more intricate types heading for $1,500.

Ms. Han began creating jewelry in 2000 soon after earning a Learn of High-quality Arts in metalcraft from Dongduk Women’s University in Seoul. Initially, she created traditional Korean kinds in gold and silver she then commenced incorporating gems, wood, plastic and enamel into her parts for more selection. She sells her get the job done through her Instagram account and as a result of galleries this sort of as the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Mass. Charon Kransen Arts in New York Town and Bini Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.

“As we go the Covid-19 era, we notice yet again the great importance of mother nature and the need to have for efforts to maintain it,” Ms. Han said. “As an artist, I’m generating jewelry out of recycled cans in a smaller exertion to do my part.”

Los Angeles

Ms. Wheeler, 37, said she believed that there is something about wooden, in specific, that built for special jewellery. “I imagine it brings a genuine grounding, earthy aspect to it. It is so dense and darkish,” she mentioned in a video job interview from her property in Los Angeles.

Just lately the designer has been doing work with ebony. Considering the fact that the International Union for Conservation of Mother nature (IUCN) lists the materials as endangered, she had to find an ethical way to receive it. “It finished up getting a sculptor who had procured a major log in the ’80s and had some left over,” she said. For her Belle earrings and cuff set, ($119,000 for the earrings and $116,000 for the cuff), Ms. Wheeler paired the dark wood with diamonds, white enamel and mild pink morganite. “I have constantly liked to merge matte carved substance with extra standard faceted gemstones,” she reported.

The designer, who is self-taught, released her wonderful jewellery collection in 2016. She now operates with a sustainability mentor to guarantee that her patterns are designed of recycled gold and responsibly sourced gems, and she usually employs community artisans in the United States to craft her patterns, in purchase to cut down waste and decrease the carbon influence of her work. “Nothing we make is mass produced,” she claimed. “We appear at the unique piece and imagine: ‘Who is the ideal particular person to make this piece?’”

This summer months, Ms. Wheeler launched a new collection, referred to as Bernadette, in honor of her daughter, who was born in April. The patterns, which pair lively hues with gentle pastels, are a nod to 1960s assertion pieces. “These have petrified wooden on the outside the house,” she claimed, referring to the Painted Desert earrings. ($50,000) “This particular piece I observed in Tucson, and it was just so vibrant and attractive.”

Ms. Wheeler’s jewellery is sold on her web site and by Internet-a-Porter, as perfectly as in stores, such as Harrods in London and boutiques this kind of as Elyse Walker in California and Marissa Collections in Naples, Fla.

Yamanashi, Japan

Glass is the only material utilized by Bubun, the jewellery line designed by the spouse-and-spouse staff of Megumi Jin, 38, and Nobuyuki Jin, 43. In Japanese, bubun is the word for “part” — the pair chose it for their model for the reason that they think jewelry will become “part of a particular person, the two in the bodily feeling and in the non secular feeling,” Ms. Jin wrote in an e mail from their dwelling and workshop in Yamanashi, Japan.

The pair satisfied about 10 years in the past when they had been operating for a leather merchandise maker they remaining in 2016 to start out Bubun. “Nobuyuki saw a pair of glass earrings that I experienced been making and explained he wanted to produce a collection dependent on them,” Ms. Jin said, introducing that she to start with became fascinated with glass as a teenager.

“Over the decades, I have occur to feel that glass is a medium that can categorical an internal feeling that is tricky to express in words alone,” she claimed. “It’s not a standard product for jewelry, and as opposed to important metals and valuable stones, the materials alone has tiny worth. But its price is designed by the intensity of expression of its notion, form, procedure and handwork.”

The few craft their jewellery from glass that has been manufactured for industrial use — plate glass, glass rods and glass pipes made in Japan, Germany and China. They slice and form the glass, doing the job the glass at a quite reduced temperature, then wrap a distinct thread all around each and every piece and sew individuals items jointly.

Every piece in the Organ collection, which the couple based on their interpretation of physique tissue, is made of dozens of round items. “We truly feel that clear, light-weight-permeable glass is a content that, when worn, visually blurs the boundary between the overall body and its surroundings and loosely inbound links them alongside one another,” Ms. Jin explained.

The items, which are handmade by the Jins on their own, are priced involving 20,000 and 50,000 yen ($148-$370). The designers market the items from their on the net store, and they have stockists the two in Japan and all around the entire world.

Nanyuki, Kenya

Writing from her home in Nanyuki, on the northwestern slopes of Mount Kenya, Ms. Dejak explained that her jewelry and accessories are about “capturing the spirit of Africa — her wealth, her character, her tradition — and bringing other folks into this encounter.”

Just one materials that the designer utilizes are horns from Ankole cows, which she obtains from reclaimed horn suppliers in neighboring Uganda. Ms. Dejak then has community artisans approach the very long, upward-curving horns, which the personnel at her Nairobi atelier in transform trend into earrings, pendants and bracelets. (She now employs 12 comprehensive-time personnel, far fewer than the 40 she used in advance of weathering financial problems.)

The designer notes that she also utilizes other environmentally pleasant supplies, this sort of as recycled fridges, doorknobs and car engines, along with “recycled metals sourced at scrap markets and marketed for each kilo.” Her brass jewelry retails for $40 to $510, when the luggage manufactured of cowhide with Ankole horn fittings run $80 to $910. Both of those the jewelry and the baggage are sold online and at suppliers around the entire world.

Ms. Dejak was born in Kano, Nigeria. “Ever because I was youthful, I admired my mom and grandmother’s design and style. They wore bold, vibrant adornments, and they motivated my adore for African, handmade components,” she said. She graduated with a legislation diploma from Middlesex College in England, but then made a decision to examine typographical style and design at the London College of Interaction.

As a self-taught designer, she started off the brand less than the identify Magik Grace and rebranded in 2009 below her have name. “My collections are heavily affected by Kenyan tribes,” she stated. “The Turkana, Samburu and the Masai physique adornments and tradition have had a enormous effect.”