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October 23, 2021 2 min read

We’re in love with a whole new look – and ironically, the charm of it is the parts that aren’t new at all. Vintage pieces are being mastered and modified into entirely new creations, turning forgotten favorites into new loves.

“Lately, we’ve started coming across these really incredible, unique pieces,” Cheryl explained. “And what’s so remarkable about them, is that they are smaller, vintage pieces – like pins or earrings – that have been totally reimagined and modified into statement pieces.”

While the concept may sound simple and obvious – “oh yeah, just freshen up some vintage pieces” – it’s really, really not.

“I mean, we modify vintage pieces all the time,” Cheryl said. “We’ll add a bail to make a pin a pendant, or we’ll turn clip-on earrings into dangles But this is not that.”

For instance, some of our collab artisans at Peyote Bird have developed a style of attaching singular conchos (from what was likely a chain-link concho belt) and affixing them to fluted silver studs for a statement dangle earring. And of course, Audrey and Cheryl’s hands-down favorites so far: tiny colorful channel inlay pieces that were once screw-back stud earrings that have been modified and reimagined to be the dangles in statement-sized silver hoops! Brilliant and beautiful.

While more and more jewelry artisans are dabbling in this concept, there’s one woman in particular we consider the queen of the craft.

“What Susan Backus is doing is art,” Cheryl said. “You can’t grab a handful of random vintage pins and successfully turn them into a squash blossom necklace. You have to balance it – in size, proportion, weight, shape – so many factors have to come together just right to actually work, to become a wearable work of art and not a messy mosaic of hodge-podge pieces. Susan is truly talented, I think she’s the one to watch in this realm.”

While there’s not a lot we’ve been able to glean about Susan Backus, her story, or how she developed her trade and technique, we have been keeping an eye on (and out for!) her body of work as it grows. As we’ve mentioned, she’s mastered a statement necklace; one of our favorites balances Fred Harvey-era thunderbird pins with classic openwork clusters, finished with a dainty Navajo-style chain.

Like we mentioned, Susan’s website doesn’t say much, but what it does say really resonated with us:

“Love the neglected. Vintage southwestern jewelry, re-imagined.”

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