Chelsey Bartrum’s latest venture is based on a more retro practice: reusing old jewelry to create new designs.
Founder of Starling, a minimalist jewelry brand from LA, wants to help Bartrum bring more circularity to the jewelry industry.
“Recycling fine jewelry is part of the industry because the materials are valuable. But it can be a challenge to do this because many people no longer have family jewelers,” she says.
This is how Bartrum launched Heirloom Revivalan offshoot of Starling, which helps customers make the whole process easier: they send in their old jewelry (after answering a few questions online), select a new item to make with it, and receive the “new” item in the mail. Bartrum’s team works with each customer to ensure that the materials can indeed be reused before diving into the process.
Bartrum has been working in the jewelry industry for over ten years. “I started as a teenager and took classes in high school,” she recalls. She then went on to do an internship while working on the couch, eventually moving into more design-oriented roles before launching Starling in 2015.
“When I started Starling, I didn’t see the kind of simple, delicate pieces at affordable prices, or what I think affordable prices are,” she says. Funded with the support of family and friends, she built a brand specializing in simplistic designs, using post-consumer recycled materials. Today, it’s a profitable business, she notes, with a small team of three and herself, bringing in more than $1 million annually.
But seeing a family jeweler’s tradition wane, and a growing interest in sustainability, Bartrum designed a new offshoot of the company that could combine sentimentality with more eco-friendly practices. “The biggest diamond mine we have is actually at home,” she says.
In fact, mines are reportedly running out or running out of diamonds, prompting the industry to explore other avenues, such as lab-grown gems, or something even simpler: repurposing what you have. “It has now been reported that the largest diamond mines are running out. And yet diamonds are some of the most versatile stones, which is why they are easy to reuse for generations. Bringing circularity to the jewelry industry is the future of the industry,” says Bartrum.
Like Starling, Heirloom Revival pieces are made in Los Angeles, near the company’s headquarters. Given the thriving jewelry industry in New York and Los Angeles, Bartrum is eager to support local artisans. Heirloom Revival is also SCS certified to use 100% post-consumer content for both metal and stones, referring to items that have been worn and then reused.
Starting in September, customers will be able to choose to have their jewelry turned into a Revival engagement ring, choosing from six designs that couples can customize with their own stones. Or one can opt for something from the Memory Charm Collection, where sentimental gold pieces are transformed into new necklaces and bracelets.
“It is our responsibility as citizens of the Earth to do this. Our mission is to buy less, earn more.”