Is it OK to Redesign Parts of Thrift Store Jewelry to Sell in Re-made Jewelry?

By Marina.

Is it OK to Redesign Parts of Thrift Store Jewelry to Sell in Re-made Jewelry?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

If jewelry is purchased at a thrift store, can parts of it be reused to create a different piece and sold?

I understand being respectful of a designer’s name of their jewelry or clothes but what are the rules?

I see the same type of bead bracelets with pennies and other vintage coins attached, so how is this not unethical?

Kudos to the creative people out there I am one of them!

Thank you.


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  • Tammie says:

    The focus of my work is recycled materials and I often repurpose vintage costume jewelry [especially chains] into my pieces. I don’t see an ethical dilemma at all. I tell people that I’ve included it and saved it from the landfill.

  • Daisy says:

    I don’t see a problem if you tell people you are re purposing vintage jewellery. It saves them from dark and dusty drawers – or the bin!

  • Susan says:

    If you tear apart the piece and use the components in your own designs, have at it – it’s so much fun to make something new and wanted out of cast-off pieces. As long as you’re not selling the whole piece and marketing it as your own work, there’s no ethical dilemma here.

  • Poppy says:

    I (re)make & sell steampunk style jewelry. Most of my supplies come from Auction or thrift store jewelry. Better to take apart & reuse than have it thrown away!

  • Joyce says:

    There is nothing wrong with taking something apart and then using part of it to make something else. I repurpose vintage clip earrings into other jewelry all the time and sell it.

  • Debra Lowe says:

    You buy it, you own it. My business is based on upcycling old jewels, get it out of the stash drawer and make it wearable…again.
    I cut, solder, add, subtract…you are an artist, free to be you~

  • Willette says:

    Hats off to you my friend! I tell friends and family do not throw away unwanted jewelry, save it for me. I take apart and come up with my own design. I agree, you buy it its yours to do as you please!

  • Becky Jamin says:

    Absolutely. The majority of my jewelry is made from bits and pieces of deconstructed thrift store jewelry.

  • JW says:

    As long as you don’t claim the original designer made your item or leave their tags/hallmarks on it, you would be fine. Google “assemblage jewelry” and you will get an idea of the wide range of options for recycling jewelry.

  • Nancy Vaughan says:

    I frequently take thrift store jewelry apart and re-purpose all or part of it. I tell anyone buying it that is re-purposed and most seem quite delighted with the whole idea.

  • j. nicholl says:

    I get what you’re saying here.

    One way I like to do this is by mostly using broken, damaged, tarnished, faded or otherwise unwanted/unloved pieces.

    At least for me, that makes it definitely more ethical as the pieces are truly being upcycled.

    As far as intellectual property and copyright law, this is a bit of a gray area. An artist absolutely owns all of their work, for example, a necklace or a painting. No one can recreate that particular necklace or painting and claim it is theirs. They also cannot make something so similar, that it can be mistaken as theirs. That’s simplifying it, bc there are also things about whether the person had the intent to make something exactly the same and pass it off as theirs, or did they genuinely have no idea blah blah blah…

    Ok, but what if I take a piece of that necklace, or slice off a square of that painting, and use it to create something else?

    Example: you make a necklace, I buy it, then I take a piece of it, let’s say some chain connected to an arrangement of beads with a tassel hanging from it that makes up about 1/4th of the necklace.

    If I use that section of beads and tassel in a new necklace, like by attaching it a wire-wrapped bracelet I made and maybe adding some of my own beads. Do you still own the intellectual property, of that particular design of beads and tassel? Eh, not really, because they’re basically just components. If the design of beads and tassel was something proprietary or very recognizable to the general public as your work? Ok, now the answer is maybe.

    If I ripped a Chanel logo off of one of their necklaces, and used it in a piece, then there could be some legal problems.

    Heh I don’t even know if any of this makes any sense at all, but I hope so, and I hope it helps!

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