Repair, restore, recycle & upcycle – Things Grandma Kept often starts with large lots of jewelry and collectibles, covered in dust and dirt, and long forgotten in someone’s attic or garage. Other pieces we salvage from the melt bins of gold and silver buyers, or buy in untested lots from estate sales. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of vintage gold and sterling silver artwork in the form of jewelry is melted down every year. Each piece was crafted by an artist. Many of the costume jewelry items discovered in those lots are truly unique and so often much better made than their modern counterparts.
We start with a quick sort, separating broken jewelry for upcycle, finding antiques and specific jewelry types. Then everything is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Most items are processed in a heavy-duty sonic cleaner with distilled water, or a mild cleaning solution. Some pieces don’t make it through this process and land in the repair bin or materials pile. Fortunately, this also helps us identify loose gemstones as they tend to come out during cleaning. Those are professionally reset.
After cleaning, we go to work repairing, polishing and removing tarnish. So many of our silver pieces come to us blackened with age. We use a homemade silver dip, free of chemicals and safe to put down the drain after use. Then we buff and polish to bring items as close to like-new as possible. This is not always true for our vintage signed native and Mexican silver. Those items are cleaned, but only as much as needed to remove dirt. The patina that develops over time is often what makes the piece unique and valuable!
Gold & Silver Jewelry
Some jewelry items are not labeled with a metal purity mark. If we suspect gold or silver, the piece is tested to confirm it’s purity.
We never list an item as being gold or silver unless it’s stamped and/or tested.
Finally, we make repairs on damaged items, resetting stones, replacing clasps, or restringing beads. Signed costume pieces are restored with original parts if at all possible. If a piece is not all original, the listing will note what has been replaced. The final products are listed for sale on our website, or sold at an antique or collectibles show.
Recycle & Upcycle
Quite a few of the pieces we acquire cannot be repaired or are not up to our quality standards. We strive to reuse the materials, rather than throwing out jewelry. From silver, gold and gemstone pieces, to costume jewelry, there are many materials that can be made into new, one of a kind pieces, or used to repair others. You’ll see more and more of these items as we grow. Right now you’ll find sets of handmade pearl and sterling dangle earrings created from broken vintage pearl necklaces, as well as pendants made from single earrings or broken bracelets.
We’ve also starting making a selection of necklaces to go with both costume and fine jewelry pendants. We have 3mm and 5mm twisted cord necklaces in silk and satin, and adjustable length leather cord necklaces with sterling silver clasps. Soon you’ll see a line of jewelry made from coins gathered from around the world and hair accessories made from vintage brooches! Look for the TGK stamp on our handmade pieces.
Materials we are not able to use are sold in lots to other artists who make everything from holiday decorations and sculptures, to one of a kind jewelry fabricated from dozens of parts! Putting something in the garbage is a last resort. We estimate that less than .5% of all items we purchase end up as waste!
Things Grandma Kept is dedicated to honoring those who went before by preserving their work, whether that be the entire piece, or beautiful parts. We also hope to reduce landfill and chemical recycling processing with our repair and upcycle effort.