Kunning Ding

From E-waste to Jewellery: practice-based research on exploring creating emotionally durable jewellery with the metal recovered from electronic waste

On this page

This is the age of Waste! Electronic waste is one of the fastest-growing streams that include copper, gold and other metals, only around 15% of which in Europe is recovered. This research aims to develop exemplar new jewellery that utilises precious metals from e-waste, transforming it into wearable pieces that can resonate with consumers and exploring the emotional associations consumers have with their electronic devices and how new meaning can be expressed through jewellery. 

From the material perspective, there are three approaches to recovering metal from e- waste: pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy and biometallurgy. This article aims to raise awareness of the value of precious metals from e-waste and develop new ways of utilising this material by working with metals in solution (hydrometallurgy), which can be set up as a smaller-scale production system than the other two approaches. The main technique involved in this article is electroforming, which is using copper sulphate from the hydrometallurgy process to create a metal coat for non-metal objects eg. Wax, found objects etc. 

The other aspect of this article is from the design perspective, providing an insight into how jewellery can be designed with this recovered metal to enhance the emotional transformation and emotional association: from the old, abandoned objects to the new wearable objects within the contemporary context. Using craft to tell a story about material, about making, about ecological design; to enhance the acceptance to the audience. 

Names of Supervisors: Prof Sandra Wilson