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This Brooklyn-Based Jewelry Designer Upcycles Denim

The saying, “one man’s trash is another another man’s treasure,” rings true for fans of Maiden Denim’s jewelry. The Brooklyn-based jewelry studio specializes in handcrafted denim-embellished baubles.

Whereas most jewelry designers would use precious stones, Maiden Denim founder and designer Tiffiny Milian combines scraps of unwanted denim with sterling silver and gold-plated stainless steel in her line of bangle bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces. Pieces range from $12 for bangles and stud earrings to $34 for embellished drop earrings.

The idea was born in 2009 when the former denim buyer took a break from the business.

“I had so much knowledge about denim, but wanted to do something different,” Milian told Rivet. Her passion for denim led to her to experiment with ways she could incorporate the fabric into jewelry.

Over the course of a year, Milian tested ways to manipulate denim with metal into ensure quality and durability. She launched Maiden Denim in 2010, ultimately building a robust following online through Etsy and locally at fairs like New York Denim Days. “I realized that I hadn’t seen anything like it in the market,” she said.

And through Maiden Denim, Milian is addressing another passion project: reducing and reusing denim waste. She’s found that vintage and worn denim are the most pliable denim to incorporate into her jewelry. Plus, she added, “I hate seeing clothing in the garbage. Clothing is something that should be passed down.”

The line is divided into a series of collections. The Basic collection offers denim-covered hoop earrings, pendent necklaces and charm bracelets. The Bling collection of earrings and cuff bracelets are embellished with touches of shimmer. The Midnight collection introduces a bohemian vibe with wood beading and seashells, while the Denim Couture collection goes glam with acid washed denim and Swarovski crystals.

The flood of denim fashion to hit the market in recent seasons has helped boost online searches for denim jewelry. And consumers, she added, want to stand out. Milian said she’s fielded requests for custom jewelry from celebrity stylists. “People are wearing denim head to toe—literally,” she said.