catalogs logo logo

What is upcycled jewelry

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

In upcycled jewelry, what it started as is not as exciting as where it ends up

Okay, so what is upcycled jewelry really? You may have heard the term bandied about. Upcycling is all the rage in home decor, clothing, and yes, fashion accessories. So what is it? 

In this case, it’s jewelry in familiar forms like necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings. But when you look closely, it might not be made of what you think of as jewelry elements. 

Discovering upcycled jewelry 

Welcome to the world of upcycled jewelry!

You see a girl wearing what at first glance looks like ordinary jewelry. Now, look closer. There, amid the beads and the rhinestones on a necklace, there’s a piece of a small furniture hinge. Instead of sterling silver spacers, old weathered copper nuts serve the same purpose and provide color and texture. The pendant combines a small glass vial filled with tiny nails, aged industrial fasteners, and a piece of old lace. 

Before you continue reading about the What is upcycled jewelry there is a special announcement we would like to share with you. has negotiated special medicare rates for our vibrant community of seniors. If you are over the age of 60, you can head over to our Seniors Health Section which is full of information about medicare. All you need is your zip code and a few minutes of your time to potentially save 100s of dollars on your medicare bills.

Get Free Catalogs When You Sign Up

Don't wait, sign up and get Free Shipping Offers, Discount Codes and lots of Savings Now!

On the charm bracelet that the girl is wearing, amid a few of the expected gold or silver charms you spot a metal washer, an old diary key, and a hotel key tag. On her earrings where you would usually see a bead or dangle, there is a free-form wire shape fashioned by copper wire wrapped around a bit of old silver. 

What’s the upcycling all about? 

For decades, we’ve talked about recycling. Recycling old bottles into new ones. Processing old newspapers into new print paper or boxes. Recycling is about using post-waste materials instead of new raw materials to make new versions of the same thing. 

But what about all those things that don’t lend themselves to be remade in the same basic form? 

Upcycling is the next logical step. It’s taking bits and pieces that would ordinarily end up in the landfill…or an overfilled junk drawer…and turning them into things that are both functional and unexpectedly attractive. 

So with clothing, simple t-shirts and jeans are being upcycled with lace or silk from old wedding gowns or cocktail dressed. Furniture is upcycled with unexpected choices in materials for finishes, knobs, or upholstery. The “new” elements used are transformed from trash into a part of a usable chair or dresser. Even non-furniture things like game boards, commercial signs, and machine parts are turned into tables, chairs, and bookshelves. 

The upcycling trend in jewelry

It’s not clear where the upcycling style started, but jewelry has been a popular choice from the start. Crafters and found-object artists scoured flea markets and garage sales for small pieces of metal, wood, plastic, fabric, or glass that could replace the expected gems and fine metals associated with traditional jewelry. 

The rules for what is upcycled jewelry are fluid. Some people build on old, tired costume jewelry pieces, while others start from a discarded bit of household or factory material. Some reuse old beads and gems, while others stay completely with non-traditional elements. 

The counterculture goes mainstream

What started as a counterpoint to expensive jewelry findings quickly became a choice of jewelry makers, too. Shoppers who liked the look of upcycled combinations but didn’t have the skills or the time to create their own upcycled pieces were thrilled to be able to find and wear the look without having to do the hard work of searching out bits and pieces. 

While many artists and crafters still delight in transforming industrial and household “junk” into works of jewelry art, most of today’s upcycled jewelry is created by professional jewelers and jewelry designers. 

The upcycling movement shows no sign of waning. Recent editions of top fashion magazines have featured upcycled purses, jackets, jewelry, and even shoes. Home decor websites are filled with “junk to treasure” tutorials, and thrift store clothing is being reworked into entirely new looks. 

Popular Savings Offers

With upcycling, being green has gone glam!


Top Deals

See All

Recent Posts

Get Free Catalogs When You Sign Up

Don't wait, sign up and get Free Shipping Offers, Discount Codes and lots of Savings Now!


Saving Tools

Follow Us


Since 1996, has been considered the web's catalog shopping authority. Our trends experts have carefully reviewed thousands of catalogs and online stores and have featured only the most respected, distinctive, and trusted ones. From popular favorites to new discoveries, you'll shop and save with exclusive coupon codes!

Invitations for applications for insurance on are made through QuoteLab, LLC and Submission of your information constitutes permission for an agent to contact you with additional information about the cost and coverage details of health and auto insurance plans. Descriptions are for informational purposes only and subject to change. Insurance plans may not be available in all states. For a complete description, please call to determine eligibility and to request a copy of the applicable policy. is not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States government or the federal Medicare program. By using this site, you acknowledge that you have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.