Giving Old Jewelry New Life: Radical Jewelry Makeover at SFCC

Editor | - September 30, 2011

How about Radical Jewelry Makeover – Responsible Jewelry Recycling

Santa Fe Community College and other institutions seek donations of old, unwanted jewelry for Radical Jewelry Makeover, the community jewelry mining and recycling project. Through Saturday, Oct. 15 the nonprofit Ethical Metalsmiths will accept donations of unwanted jewelry for its acclaimed Radical Jewelry Makeover project at several Santa Fe area locations (see list below). Donors will receive discount coupons to apply toward the purchase of a new piece; sales benefit Ethical Metalsmiths’ efforts toeducate and connect people with responsibly sourced materials.

Radical Jewelry Makeover has been traveling nationally and internationally since 2007 educating jewelers about mining and material sourcing issues involved in jewelry making through a fun, fast paced week-long project. Jewelry students from SFCC, the Institute of American Indian Arts, New Mexico State University and the University of Texas-El Paso and professional jewelers from the region will transform donations into radically fresh and responsible jewelry. The project culminates in an exhibition of wearable creations displayed at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Those tangled chains, unmatched earrings and banged up bracelets sitting at the bottom of jewelryboxes are exactly what jewelry artists participating in Radical Jewelry Makeover want to get their creative hands on. Radical Jewelry Makeover draws attention to the creativity and skills of local jewelry designers, reveals the stories behind personal collections and encourages reconsideration of habits of consumption. Currently, materials used in jewelry production are sourced from some of the poorest countries in the world, sacred lands and disputed territories. Often this sourcing comes at a great cost to the environment. Radical Jewelry Makeover offers an informed and creative alternative to traditional mining practices and jewelry production. Participants can help by donating jewelry for reuse and recycling.

New Mexico has a rich history of jewelry production. Native Americans have beenmining turquoise in parts of southwestern North America for nearly 1,500 years. While turquoise and lead deposits were the focus early on, gold, silver, copper and zinc have all played major roles in shaping the history of Santa Fe and New Mexico. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that hardrock mining is the most toxic industry in the nation. Additionally, Earthworks reports that an estimated 80% of the gold mined each year is used for jewelry, and that a single gold ring leaves behind 20 tons of mine waste. Ethical Metalsmiths seeks to galvanize mining reform efforts by staging an “alternative supply chain.”

TO DONATE JEWELRY: To donate jewelry of any quality, quantity or material, submit the official form with your jewelry: Donation forms are also available at the various drop-off locations.


Drop-off Donations will be accepted now through Oct. 15

Jewelry students and professionals will transform the donations between Oct. 23 and Oct. 27

The exhibition at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian will take place Oct. 28-Nov. 27 There will be an opening reception Friday, October 28 from 5-7 p.m.


Santa Fe Community College,School of Arts & Design, Jewelry Studio, Room 720, 6401 Richards Ave.

Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Museum Store, 108 Cathedral Place

IAIA, The College of Contemporary Native Arts, Academic and Administration Building Ticket Window, 83 Avan Nu Po Rd.

Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum, 704 Camino Lejo

MAIL-IN DONATION: Cheri Falkenstien-Doyle, curator, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, P.O. Box 5153 / 704 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87502


Santa Fe Community College, School of Arts & Design: Diane Tintor, Assistant Professor, 6401 Richards Ave. (505),

Institute of American Indian Arts: Mark Herndon, Faculty Jewelry/Metalsmithing, 83 Avan Nu Po Road, (940) 453-9449,

Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian: Cheri Falkenstien-Doyle, Curator, 704 Camino Lejo, (505) 982-4636 ext. 104,

Ethical Metalsmiths /Radical Jewelry Makeover: Christina Miller, Director, P.O. Box 156, College Corner, OH 45003, (513) 551-0559,

Susie Ganch, Co-Project Director, Radical Jewelry Makeover, (415) 706-0576,

Additional donation locations available in Las Cruces and El Paso.