Beer Cans Born Again

Let the material girls have their diamonds. Eco-chic folks might insist that garbage is a girl's best friend. (I did say might.)

Poking around Great Green Goods, it's clear that several jewelry designers have found an ideal raw material for their bracelets, cuff links and belts — junk. By junk, I mean forgotten, cast-off, unwanted stuff, like unused coupons, road cones, old footballs, tires, shampoo bottles and circuit boards. These aren't your mom's precious gems. In fact, they're just the opposite.

The people at Refinding.com apparently believe that anything sitting around in a garage ought to be re-incarnated as a fashion accessory. Orange traffic cones, basketballs, matchbooks and fuzzy green tennis balls are reborn as watchbands. Rabies tags become necklaces and sneaker soles become bracelets. Beer cans double as belts.

Newspaper Jewelry.com creates different lines of jewelry from various newspaper sections, such as the comics, crossword puzzles, stock listings and expired coupons. They also rework bar codes, artificial sweetener packets and losing lottery tickets that get a second life as a necklace, named "Shattered Dreams" (priced at $900, so I'd need to win the lottery to afford it.)

Beer cans and newspapers are just the beginning. Eco-savvy designers are using computer guts (memory chips, phone jacks, hard discs), bike parts (chains, spoke nuts), school supplies (pencils, rulers), plastic shopping bagsTupperware and basically anything most of us classify as clutter.

I'm impressed by anyone who can transform a stryofoam cup and old shoelaces into a pair of pretty earrings. I'm also happily surprised to see so many eco-friendly people are able to trash into treasure, even if the jewelers at Tiffany & Co. don't consider it treasure, exactly.

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