Upcycle and Recycle: Cool Ways to Create Handmade Jewelry from Found Objects
Why buy new when recycled materials offer endless possibilities for handmade jewelry crafting? From vintage buttons to plastic spoons, nearly any discarded item transforms into wearable art with some creativity.
This guide explores fresh ideas for turning found objects and repurposed materials into one-of-a-kind upcycled jewelry designs. We’ll cover ingenious techniques for reimagining common household items, hardware scraps, and plastic, paper, or metal trash as pendants, beads, charms, and more. Give new life to old things by upcycling everyday junk into handmade jewelry treasures!
Upcycling Plastic Finds Into Jewelry
Flexible, colorful plastic lends itself perfectly to DIY statement pieces when salvaged creatively.
Melted Plastic Bead Necklace
Cut plastic straws or lids into tiny pieces, thread onto skewer, then hold over flame to melt and fuse into irregular beads for boho necklaces.
Soda Tab Chain Maille Jewelry
Weave and connect pulled and hammered soda can tabs into armor-like chain maille bracelets, chokers, or panels.
Toolkit Plastic Upcycled Jewelry
Washers, spacers, and hardware bits from damaged toolkits become industrial-chic cuffs or necklaces with added paint and adhesives.
Upcycled Plastic Flower Jewelry
Glue salvaged plastic flowers from old flip flops or hair clips onto barrettes, headbands, and necklace pendants. Funky flair from trash.
Unexpected Paper and Cardstock Jewelry Ideas
With just paper, glue, and creative folding or layering, stunning wearable art emerges from recyclables once destined for the bin.
Book Page Necklaces
Adhere layered shredded book page strips or cutout words between glass cabochons using decoupage for literarily inspired pendants.
Gift Wrap Scraps Earrings
Punch shapes from the front of castoff gift wrapping then glue stud backs for cheeky upcycled earrings with leftover wrap.
Paper Bead Jewelry
Magazine Photo Frame Pendants
Cut out meaningful pictures or words from old magazines to frame in resin, sequins, or a paper doily for eclectic sentimental necklaces.
Unexpected Metal Materials Transformed
From tinfoil to soda tabs, metal finds gain new potential when cut, linked, wrapped, or refinished into jewelry.
Embossed Tin Foil Jewelry
Press textured items like lace or leaves into aluminum foil to emboss, then cut into geometric statement pendants, cuffs, or hair accessories.
Hammered Coin Jewelry
Hammer vintage coinage with inspirational words or designs for pendants, or solder coins together into organic shapes full of patina.
Can Tab Chain Maille Jewelry
Upcycle printed or colored aluminum soda and beer tabs into necklaces and cuffs by weaving them into chain maille patterns. Industrial chic from recycling.
Vintage Key Jewelry
Unexpected Glass and Ceramic Crafts
Salvage broken plates, cups, and window shards for stunning mosaic jewelry full of collaged texture and color.
Broken China Jewelry
Apply strong adhesive to back painted porcelain and ceramic shards from dishes or figurines, then add bails to create mosaic pendants from trash.
Smashed Glass Jewelry
Fuse together irreparable stained glass salvage under tiles or bottle bottoms to create jewelry pendants with dimensional brilliance. Add hardware findings.
Ceramic Tile Pendants
Decorate cracked tile pieces with paint, nail polish, or enamel then coat with clear sealant for waterproof ornamental pendants perfect for lanyards and bags.
Old Plate Wind Chimes
Drill holes into painted porcelain shards from broken thrift store plates and Accent with bells to DIY musical wind chimes displaying upcycled art.
Unexpected Wood and Natural Materials Crafts
Nature offers free found object jewelry supplies from beach walks like shells, pebbles, and driftwood ready for upcycling.
Shell Chip Jewelry
Chip salvaged shells into organic shaped flakes, then string, glue, or wire wrap them into beachy pendants, earrings, and hair adornments. Natural eco-chic.
Gather weathered driftwood, then drill or saw into interesting shapes suitable for necklaces, bracelets, rings, or earrings to wear natural artwork.
Rock and Pebble Jewelry
Twig and Branch Jewelry
Wire wrapping nearly any fallen twigs, sticks, or pruned branches creates rustic dimensional pendants and charms infused with nature’s creativity.
Unexpected Hardware Store Finds
Even humble washers, bobby pins, and hardware bits gain new glamorous life when upcycled fromtrash to treasure by clever jewelers.
Washer Statement Rings
Stack an array of different sized washers then adhere to a ring blank. Add nail polish or enamel accents for an industrial adjustable statement.
Refurbished Hardware Jewelry
Hammer or dip plating gives new life to salvaged hardware like chains, fasteners, springs, and clasps for mixed media mechanical jewelry.
Bobby Pin and Paperclip Jewelry
Simple wire wrapping transforms bobby pins, unfolded paperclips, and bread ties into cute stud earrings, charm bracelets, and delicate necklaces.
Hex Nut Jewelry
Decorate salvaged nuts and bolts with paint or nail polish, then wire wrap or solder to components to add an edgy accent to any jewelry design.
Unexpected Button and Bead Crafts
Secondhand buttons, broken bead strands, and incomplete vintage jewelry become whimsical upcycled creations.
Vintage Button Jewelry
Hot glue assorted retro buttons to basic jewelry bases like wood bangles, headbands, and barrettes to create charming adornments from castoffs.
Broken Bead Necklace
Reassemble and wire wrap interesting sections of broken bead strands or necklaces into a mismatched upcycled boho bib necklace. Imperfections make better stories.
Leftover Bead Soup Jewelry
Combine leftover beads from projects into striking mosaic-like multistrand statement necklaces and bracelets to use the dregs and scraps. Chaotic color rocks.
Damaged Jewelry Breakdown
Salvage still usable gems, chains, and findings from irreparable broken or outdated jewelry sourced secondhand to build into new repurposed designs.
With a mind open to possibility, discarded or damaged items offer unlimited potential for handcrafting jewelry full of personality and recycled appeal. Before reflexively trashing, pause to consider potential for upcycling anything from plastic bottles to rusted coins into wearable art treasures that make a statement. Give modern waste new purpose while keeping it out of landfills. Upcycling elevates trash to heirlooms carrying memories and imagination.