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The Music of Jewelry

Artists making bracelets and more from broken musical instruments

I love to travel, and when I'm in a new (or favorite) place, I always keep an eye out for unique handmade jewelry. I was in New Orleans in late May, and spent a fantastic evening wandering a few favorite haunts and stumbling across a new one.

New Orleans, of course, is synonymous with music -- mostly jazz. With live music playing throughout the city at all times of the day or night, you gotta think that some guitar players break a few strings! I found two jewelry makers who have found a way to capitalize on that. 

NOLA shopping
Restrung Jewelry 2
ReStrung guitar string bangles


I discovered ReStrung Jewelry in a small open-air market off Decatur Street, between Barracks and Governor Nicholls streets. That northeast corner of the French Quarter is home to several jewelry and bead shops, and worth a wander the next time you're on vacation in the Big Easy. It was late in the evening when I strolled by, and I almost didn't stop but how do you ignore a shopping spot that looks like this? The PARTY sign beckoned me in. 


This small market had several vendors, a few with jewelry, but what drew me to ReStrung was their display fixtures. The open guitar case and the guitar-shaped necklace boards were creative, eye-catching, and fun. And the jewelry was COOL. All of the jewelry that ReStrung sells is made from broken guitar strings. Bracelets, pendants, and earrings are all created with gold-colored wire strings and enhanced with semi-precious stones, a bit of leather, or vintage findings. 

According to their website, ReStrung gathers worn-out strings from New Orleans musicians. They use ethically-sourced stones and pick up other materials at yard sales and flea markets. It is important to them to support the vibrant New Orleans cultural community, and as such, they donate a percentage of their sales back to The New Orleans Musician's Clinic and Assistance Foundation, an organization that supports the musicians who contribute the strings. 

I bought the Eternity Bracelet pictured above, and plan to buy some other pieces as gifts for some musician friends. I didn't get a great photo of the variety of pieces that they sell but here's two from their website. 

Restrung Guitar String bangles multi
Frenchman Art Market 1
Drum Cymbal Jewelry 1
Drum Cymbal Jewelry 2


Earlier in the evening, I had spent some time down on Frenchman Street, a destination for jazz lovers in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans (just east of the French Quarter). Aside from the music, I always make a point to get down there when I'm in NOLA to visit my very favorite craft market, The Frenchman Art Market. This market is open year-round, from 8pm-1am (times may vary depending upon the season). There's something magical about being out of doors, late at night, shopping for treasures under the glow of strands of white lights.

I always find something special there, and this time was no different. Secondline Jewels was my favorite new find this year. All of their pieces are made from recycled drum cymbals! I must admit, it had never occurred to me to wonder what cymbals are made from, but the answer is, mostly brass and bronze. Different manufacturers use different alloys, and different musicians may prefer cymbals made from different materials and in different thicknesses. But one thing they have in common: they do break occasionally, depending on how hard they are played. 

Secondline Jewels takes broken cymbals and cuts, punches, files, and polishes them into stunning earrings, pendants, and cuffs. There is a men's jewelry line, too! They pay homage to artists like David Bowie and Van Halen with some of their designs, and they also offer signature pieces cut from the cymbals of some prominent musicians. Portions of the proceeds from the signature line also benefit charities chosen by the musicians. 

If you're a drummer with some broken high-hats, reach out to Secondline; they will give you one free piece of jewelry made from your donation! They also do custom work for bands, making jewelry from the bands' own instruments so that fans can "actually wear a piece of the music"!


I love the idea of upcycling uncommon materials into jewelry and I also love the connection between music and art. Mostly, though, I just love New Orleans! But if you can't swing a trip down south this year, be sure to visit both of these artists online. You can shop for the perfect gift for a music lover, while supporting independent artists with a commitment to the environment, to their community, and to upcycled art!

FIND MORE: found object , metal , bracelets

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