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Artists turn old computer hardware into beautiful, unique jewerly

Artists breathe new life into dead computer hardware with beautiful, unique jewelry made from circuit boards, wires, resistors, and more.

Photo credit: Violets new Vintage

Dead computer hardware doesn't have to end up in the scrapheap. And, it really shouldn't considering the toxic materials and precious metals inside most computer equipment.

TechRepublic members have long debated the best way to dispose of computers that are at the end of their life cycle. Some donate the equipment to local charities or sell the machines to employees. And once the computers no longer function, many turn to local recyclers. A few artists and craftspeople however, have found a unique way to breath new life into dead computer hardware--jewelry.

This gallery showcases computer jewelry from Violets new Vintage and 2Roses Jewelry. From bracelets and cuff links made from circuit boards to necklaces and rings full of resistors, these beautiful, unique creations illustrate a very creative way to reuse old computer hardware.

I reached out to the individuals behind Violets new Vintage and 2Roses Jewelry in separate email interviews. I asked them why they started working with old computer parts, where they get their materials, and if they take any special precautions when working with them.

What made you think about creating jewelry from old computer parts?

Betsy Berberian, the artist behind Violets new Vintage, began making computer jewelry thanks to a friend and fellow jewelry maker who was moving. "She gave me a box of jewelry components she didn't want anymore," Berberian answered. "The box was filled with ceramic circuits and other components she used back in the 1980's. I was captivated by the beautiful patterns on the tiny circuits, and I started making jewelry from them."

Corliss and John Rose, owners of 2Roses Jewelry, decided to use old computer and electronic pats "because they literally define the 21st century and our technological society." According to the pair's artist statement:

"The materials are at once precious and disposable, hidden yet everywhere, defiant of expectation and conforming to a relentless precision. The works of High Tech Fusion explore the relationship of computerization and the concepts of contradiction, tradition, expectation, conformity and value in personal adornment."

Photo credit: 2Roses Jewelry

Where did you get the computer equipment from which you made the jewelry?

The Roses have received "grants and sponsorships from electronics manufacturers who have donated non-conforming parts." In return, the pair makes "custom jewelry or an object d' art for the donor from the supplied parts." The Roses also credit the sponsors during their touring museum exhibitions.

When Berberian's original supply of ceramic circuits began to run out, she started cutting designs from the circuit boards inside her own dead computers or bought scraps on eBay.

Do you take any special precaution when working with the old computers?

As there are often hazards fumes and toxic materials floating around jewelry and art studios, both the Roses and Berberian were already taking safety precautions when practicing their craft. "We wear latex surgical gloves, eye protection and respirators," the Roses wrote.

Berberian is accustomed to working with dangerous material. "I used to make neon signs and had to work with mercury, high voltage electricity and asbestos; so working with the circuits doesn't seem dangerous to me."

Geek Chic

While some of Berberian and the Rose's creations are art objects, many are made to be worn and enjoyed as functional devices. If you're looking for a unique geek gift, a set of circuit board cuff links or a necklace made from resistors certainly fits the bill.

For more information on circuit board and computer hardware jewelry from Violets new Vintage and 2Roses, please check out VioletsNewVintage.etsy.com and 2roses.etsy.com.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

35 comments
wjaspers
wjaspers

Haha; this reminds me of the movie "The 5th Element". I wouldn't mind wearing the cufflinks or a tie clasp made from old PCB boards; but if its not RoHS compliant, or the PCB is older than the 80's ... heck no.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But then my work requires that I don't wear watches and rings for safety reasons. It's too much of a hassle to take jewelry off and put it back on, so I don't wear anything except a watch.

bhaven23
bhaven23

Already wear some I made. Get a lot of comments!

rcaraway
rcaraway

My father once showed me how to make a not-unattractive tie tack from one of the old style "can" type transistors. And the physical discs from hard drives are "flashy".

Nsaf
Nsaf

He must have alot of time on his hands.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

TechRepublic members have long debated the best way to dispose of computers that are at the end of their life cycle. Some donate the equipment to local charities or sell the machines to employees. And once the computers no longer function, many turn to local recyclers. A few artists and craftspeople however, have found a unique way to breath new life into dead computer hardware?jewelry. Would you wear jewelry made from computer hardware? Check out some of these amazing creations and take our poll: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=2000

manasseh
manasseh

A customer of mine once gave me a clock made by a local artist from a 5-1/4" hard drive platter with chips in place of the numbers on the face. I bought a pair of cufflinks from the same artist - I don't know anyone else who has 8-bit (Z80) cufflinks.

Realvdude
Realvdude

Had a tech catch his wedding band on a door hinge while carrying a PC box out of the storage room. We had to rebend it back somewhat into a circle to remove it from his finger. Luckily no hospital worthy damage to the finger.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I saw a machinist get too close to an induction heater once, and convinced him to stop wearing metal watches. I always wore as much rubber/plastic construction as I could to avoid conduction in a panel, but usually simply took it off. Pocket watches were the thing 30 years ago in the natural gas industry. Anything on your arm could get caught in a flying piece of 20 ton equipment, and fling you off across the parking lot! :O

santeewelding
santeewelding

Even that, for safety reasons. Molten glob landed exactly between the metal Spidel band and my wrist, welding itself to the band. Hooked a finger under the band and, with one move, removed it and flung the thing across the parking lot -- already too late. Never since. That was 35 years ago.

TelcoChuck
TelcoChuck

Intel used to give out dead 486's as tie tacs and Pentiums as keyrings ? I have both of these jewelry items and think they look great. Especially under a magnifying glass!

Jaqui
Jaqui

The whole "chunky" jewellry thing just don't work for me, making it out of dead electronics don't change that.

melias
melias

I can see a piece of art on the wall, or better yet, functional art, but not personal jewelry. That screams 'geek' far too loudly. Besides, I would never want jewelry to be other than gold or silver, anything else is irritating to the skin.

barbedwire
barbedwire

Jewelry doesn't really interest me. I made an interesting analog clock from a motherboard (bottom side as face). Never carried through on other ideas yet.

paul.willy
paul.willy

What about the lead? Cadmium? Plasticizers? I see allergic reactions. This just looks bad in general. Can you say lawsuit in 5 or 10 years? Paul

rfolden
rfolden

Not a chance in Hades.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The appendage that was formerly yours.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

You reminded me of a Mechanic cutting a exhaust pipe off a car where a glob of molten metal fell off and landed in his crutch 3 days prior to his wedding. Wife to be wasn't at all happy. I'm not sure if it was the fact that the nurses got to touch things that she thought should not be touched by other females particularly so close to the wedding or that she didn't get any on the wedding night. :^0 OK so I don't know how he did this but it was incredibly stupid to place yourself in that position. Col

JCitizen
JCitizen

I wish they would sell more stuff like that for the geek in us!

JCitizen
JCitizen

to an internet cafe. Wow, a hard drive table! It has been a while since I saw a drive that big in action!

JCitizen
JCitizen

tie pins are pretty small actually; but their is no accounting for taste anyway. I really like the look, but it would have to be minimal on me as well. The necklace looks kind of Aztec, and would look good on a woman, I think. Maybe if mixed with good dress design, it would transform the look?

bluzdog
bluzdog

Seems there should be some way to use epoxy, or a similar product, to isolate the circuit materials from the wearer. I really admire the creativity of the artist is repurposing these "throw away" products.

BigRed_32399
BigRed_32399

Datamation magazine commissioned an artist to create some one-of-a-kind art objects from computer components that were photographed as covers for the magazine. I have some old posters of an angel fish and Noah and the Ark. These are impressive.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'd pay the ridiculous price for coffee at that shop!! For real! v/

seanferd
seanferd

but I definitely think you could raise an attractive atmosphere in a café with a theme based on such items. It has been a very long time since my limited exposure to such large drives as well. And fun stuff like punch tapes and Hollerith cards...

JCitizen
JCitizen

as far as I'm concerned. :(

2lulu
2lulu

Women never think of men when dressing. Men have no sense of style. Women always dress to impress other women.

JCitizen
JCitizen

What the women's dress designers always forget, is it is the men that need to be impressed with the women in their life. I think even the women forget that! If it looks too gay, I'm just not impressed. Not that there's anything wrong with that!(As they used to say on [i]Seinfeld[/i], HA!) =D

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Now there is a oxymoron if ever I heard one. Good and Dress Design should never be used int he same sentence. After all the Fashion Industry can be accused of a lot of things but Good Design defiantly isn't one of them. They are far more interested in Looks than good design. Also it doesn't matter if it's cheap as it makes more profit. I spent 5 years catering to the High End of the Fashion Designers here and they drove me crazy. They almost wanted me to sign [b]The Official Secrets Act[/b] every time before I entered their studios so I wouldn't tell their competition what they where doing and tell them what their computation was doing. So silly really and when all is said and done totally unimportant. My description of their [b]Creations[/b] always was [b]A Few bits of Rag sewn together and flogged off onto the stupid.[/b] Didn't make them happy but I was always honest. ;) Col

Realvdude
Realvdude

Check out the photo show. There did seem to be some pieces that were not protected though. Some of those were the non-conforming materials and hopefully RoHS compliant.