One of jewelry’s greatest draws is the promise that it will stand the test of time. Just think about it—there’s a reason why you’re more likely to inherit your grandmother’s pearls than her purses. And while you’ve likely ogled your fair share of collectable antique jewels from auction houses such as Christie’s and dealers like Fred Leighton, there’s a treasure trove of antique pieces that don’t have the provenance or are in sufficiently good condition to make it on such tony sales floors. For every Art Deco Cartier cuff, there are dozens of unsigned cameos, glass beads, and hard-stone brooches that go overlooked. What becomes of these forgotten bibelots?
A new generation of jewelry designers is championing these remnants from the past, creating pieces that repurpose and recycle antique baubles into one-of-a-kind modern jewels. Here are four of our favorites.