When Rachel Bingham was five years old, she had a habit of digging through her mother’s jewellery boxes. To appease the treasure-hunting youngster, her family would give her their broken and old adornments to do with as she pleased, which often meant crafting the pieces into new and interesting things.
These days, not much has changed – only now Bingham has found bigger boxes to rifle through. As the owner of BangBang Bijoux, Bingham has made a living creating recycled jewellery or “reworked vintage,” as she calls it. She hunts down and repurposes vintage and discarded items, turning them into brand-new statement jewellery. Bingham sells the pieces through her own online store and booths at various city markets, as well as to local stores such as The Bamboo Ballroom, Ponytails + Horseshoes, Carbon Environmental Boutique, Thread Hill and Groove Stone.
Anyone with an eye for antiques would have a field day when examining some of Bingham’s pieces. Some are made with old semi-precious stones, some with 1920s costume jewellery, turn-of-the-century furniture adornments and, in some cases, even vintage fishing-lures from the 1800s – all integrated to make stunning pieces such as earrings or charmed statement necklaces.
So where does she find her materials? “I’m a treasure hunter,” says Bingham. “I do a lot of research, and about once a year, I go to Europe and twice a year, I go to the east coast of the United States.” There, Bingham says, she finds “deadstock” from jewellery and furniture factories that operated as early as the 1890s. “I find these very rudimentary old components,” says Bingham, “so I will bring them back and clean them up.” Depending on the condition, some hammering and filing is needed to get all of her components back to their original beauty.
As she goes the extra mile (and sometimes thousands of them) to recycle, she hopes that others would look to her jewellery as reminders. “I like people to reevaluate what they throw in the garbage, basically. It’s neat to show them that things can be cleaned up and hopefully when they’re redecorating their home they’ll think of me, and not just head to Ikea.”