St Albans craftsmith transforms junk into jewellery

ARE you one of those people holding onto bags of bottles and piles of packaging that you have been meaning to take to the recycling bins for months?

Well, with a little vision and know-how you could turn these items into beautiful, unique pieces of jewellery, as I found out when I met with creative St Albans-based silversmith Gail Newman.

Handmade goods are in big demand at the moment with more shoppers looking to spend their hard-earned cash on something that love, care and attention has gone into.

Buying a product you can guarantee nobody else will have makes you feel special and gives you a chance to assert your individuality.

And that is the ethos that Gail, who runs an online jewellery business, uses when setting about turning a broken bike lock into a statement ring or a shard of wine bottle into a pretty pendant.

A self-confessed hoarder, Gail finally decided a few months ago the time had come to put all the shiny objects and trinkets she had been saving to good use.

“It is the best thing to see something that is old and broken turn into something lovely”, she explains while showing me some of her distinctive pieces of jewellery.

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Gail is also an avid recycler and so all the materials she uses in her designs have been collected by rummaging through recycling bins and trawling around various vintage shops.

She works from a small studio at her home in Cambridge Road, which I am led into as she proposes that I should have a go at knocking something up.

As something of a jewellery-making novice, I opted to take inspiration from one of Gail’s more conservative designs, and chose a couple of gold coloured pearls which she tells me were previously owned by a friend’s mother in the 1930s.

Armed with a pair of pliers and under the watchful eye of Gail, I cut, file and shape two 5cm pieces of silver-plated wire that would soon form the basis of a pair of earrings that I would be able to loop through my lobe.

The next step was to bend the pieces of metal into a curved shape, and using the pliers form another loop from which I could delicately suspend the pre-loved pearls.

“It just shows with a bit of imagination just what you can do,” Gail smiles as we both stand back to inspect my handiwork.

I couldn’t believe it; within just a few short minutes I had managed to design and make my own pair of one-of-a-kind earrings, and I must say the satisfaction was immense.

The time and energy crafters like Gail devote into giving something a new lease of life is to be admired, and being able to own one of their creations really is worth its weight in gold.

To see more of Gail’s designs visit