Jeweler Chelsey Bartrum believes that the biggest diamond mine in the world is in people’s homes. Though Bartrum is best known for the handmade jewelry brand Starling, her latest venture, Heirloom Revival, is turning heads for its unique approach of helping customers turn old jewels and gems from old family pieces into new items.
The small company uses local artisans to help transform antique and vintage pieces into modern items such as engagement rings and memorial jewelry. The process is simple: customers send in an old trinket, pick what kind of new item they want, and receive a unique and creative new item back that features the stones and gems from the original piece.
The company is all about wearing more but buying less. Many older stones have great value but may be in a setting that doesn’t feel contemporary. Heirloom Revival gives those gems new life.
“Recycling in fine jewelry is part of the industry because the materials are valuable,” Bartrum told Forbes. “But going about it can be challenging because many people don’t have family jewelers anymore.”
Heirloom Revival’s approach is a much-needed, openly sustainable approach to jewelry. With newly-mined gold for one wedding band producing 20 tons of waste, the recycled heirloom approach reduces the industry’s carbon footprint and over-consumption. The company is SCS certified to use post-consumer content for stones and metal, making the entire new piece of jewelry sustainable. It’s all been worn before, even though it may look new.
Bartrum’s approach is logical, given that many diamond mines are actually running out of diamonds.
“It’s been reported now that the largest diamond mines are running out,” she said. “And yet, diamonds are some of the most versatile stones, that’s why they’re easy to reuse for generations. Bringing circularity to the jewelry industry is the future of the industry.”
Heirloom Revival offers six engagement ring designs that can be customized with a vintage stone. It also has the Memory Charm Collection, which takes used pieces of gold and turns them into either a necklace or bracelet for modern wear.
The heart of the company is the idea of taking a used piece — one with a lot of history — and making it ready to wear again.
By recycling and reusing precious family heirlooms, customers not only get to revive a piece of their family’s story, but they also become a part of a more sustainable, less-polluting system.
This method also keeps jewelry current and beautiful without stripping more of the earth away to find new materials. It’s a brilliant way to highlight the gems and stones you already own but never wear.
Bartrum’s approach may not be a new one — in fact, the company website points out that even Cleopatra melted down and remade her jewelry at whim — but it’s often hidden from the public. Heirloom Revival hopes to remove that mystique to ensure recycling stays at the forefront of the fine jewelry business and further encourages a fully circular industry.