Upcycling — the process known as reworking items, typically secondhand, into new styles — is a relatively well-known sustainable practice within the fashion industry. (I’ve, personally, watched hours upon hours of DIY YouTube tutorials that promised to help me transform my old T-shirts into trendy going-out tops, but that’s beside the point.) To prove what’s old can be new again, popular jewelry brand Catbird has partnered with The RealReal for an upcycled jewelry collection. The partnership transformed vintage pieces into freshly recycled, sparkling designs. And, all of the items reflect several of-the-moment jewelry trends for Fall 2021 — like statement pendants and touches of silver, which make the special items unique and worthy investments.
Co-Creative Director of Catbird Leigh Batnick Plessner shares in an email interview with TZR that the transformative design journey was an intensive process. “Our design team sketched a million beautiful concepts based on the jewelry that The RealReal gave us to choose from. We then honed in on twenty or so designs that felt quintessentially Catbird, but that we could riff on in an exciting new way,” says Plessner. “We spent many hours in a room in The RealReal’s warehouse poring over all the secondhand pieces in person, and then we whittled it down to about 15. When we got them to our studio and began unseating the stones, we had to make some last-minute adjustments based on what we found.”
All 15 of the new-meets-old pieces, which retail from $600 up to $2200, feel original yet also exemplary of Catbird’s signature delicate touches and golden detailing.
You’ll find pieces that tap into Catbird’s signature delicate vibe, like the Diamond Angel Hair Stud Earrings and the Pearl & Diamond Odette the Swan Ring. But you’ll also find options that leave behind the minimalist aesthetic in favor of maximalist flair, both in terms of whimsical designs and color palettes. The Pearl & Diamond Holy Cannoli Supreme Charm Necklace — a diamond-encrusted canoli pendant with a pearl that doubles as ricotta filling — is a jewelry-meets-pastry revelation. Another cheerful item that taps into Catbird’s signature styles yet with revamped vibrancy is the Topsy-Turvy Sapphire Earrings, which also happens to be Plessner’s favorite piece from the collection. She’s already dreamed up her would-be styling formula for the deep blue earrings. “I would wear them with my Simone Rocha trench (from The RealReal!) over a nightgown. [Then go] to the bodega to buy a ripe avocado and a bag of mango soft licorice to blow my three-year-old mango-loving daughter’s mind,” she says.
The RealReal x Catbird collab is part of The RealReal’s ReCollection program, an ongoing sustainable initiative dedicated to upcycling luxurious vintage pieces into new styles — all while honoring the item’s original personality. To keep the pieces’ original vibe and craftsmanship intact, Plessner reveals her Catbird team focused on the stones. “When we selected the older pieces, it was an exercise in which shapes and colors and facets we could highlight the best. It’s like Catbird, but technicolor with emeralds, rubies, and sapphires!” she shares.
Catbird’s signature ethically-sourced gold is also used throughout the collection. “Our chains are certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council, while our wire and findings, like posts and earring backs, are all 100 percent recycled,” explains Plessner. “All of the stones used in this collection are post-consumer goods and recycled. The castings are a mix of recycled and mined gold that is ethically sourced and certified conflict free with most of the new content coming from mines in Canada.”
Pieces are selling out quickly on therealreal.com, so be sure to add them to your cart with lightening speed and efficiency. With every piece from the collection having such a rich history and bright, newly designed future, whatever you’re able to snag is guaranteed to become a valuable addition to your jewelry collection.
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