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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Body Necklaces: Treasures Bloom From Trash

A body necklace adds luxury and sophisticated style to an outfit sustainably made from upcycled materials

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George Buid
George Buidhttp://www.georgebuid.com/
An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

PHILIPPINES. Dumaguete: Body necklaces are sold as luxury items but crafted from the dumpsite of Dumaguete. A community of skillful women creates all the beautiful jewelry for a sustainable and ethical crowd. Although some of these women earn a living as waste pickers, they now promote a circular economy through Lumago Designs with their upcycling skills to reduce pollution.

The named social enterprise,  Lumago Designs, came from the Tagalog word of bloom. The social enterprise helps these women to earn a living wage creating the jewelry that they love. Thus, their body necklaces are one of the best designs you could see.

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Not only do these eight women craft their body necklaces as jewelry, but they also reduce the amount of waste thrown into the dumpsite. Like a sustainable trophy, their actions aid a clean environment. Besides, they sustain their community along with a handful of donations.

This initiative runs thanks to the collaboration of Becky Stanbridge, from the United Kingdom, and Spencer Dempsey, from the United States, with the eight women of Lumago Designs. However, Whitney Fleming started it back in 2011 after a typhoon devastated the community in Dumaguete. The women found a livelihood through jewelry making with the dumpsite as an inspiration of their raw materials found that shapes their body necklaces of vibrant colors.  They intercept the materials before they reach the dumpsite.

Waste pickers scavenge for useful trash / Photo Credit: Lumago Designs

The love of jewelry innovates them to be resourceful jewelers

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The eight women work from their home while they create jewelry like the body necklaces. Stanbridge, in an interview with Transcontinental Times, said, “They work to earn a fair living wage while looking after their families. Yet, they have refined their specialized skill of paper bead making for over a decade now.”

She added, “Even though we have tried out other upcycling products like home decors items, they love jewelry. That is what they know and do best. So, we further enhance the skills they own to allow them to learn and progress (as artisans).”

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Stanbridge spoke of the materials they use in their body necklaces and other jewelry. She said, “We use a mix of aluminum, plated copper wires, stainless steel chains, and other findings with our signature hand-rolled recycled paper beads. But, our artisans dip and dry each bead in resin.”

Standbridge also noted that the environment is an essential part of what they do. Besides, what they do unifies and benefits their community. She said, “The use of upcycled materials is a big part of what we do, why we do, and who we are. We uplift the community and give back to our environment. In the meantime, we educate people about protecting our planet through the stories and beautiful wearable pieces of art, like the body necklaces.”

Body necklaces design both for men and women / Photo Credit: Lumago Designs

Inspiration behind their artistic jewelry

The initiative creates an impact on their community. The designs were born from their love of jewelry.

Transcontinental Times asked Stanbridge about the source of inspiration for their body necklaces and jewelry. She said, “Our interest in working with bigger intricate pieces (body necklaces with a unique festival vibe) for a while to cater to high-end markets. But, we struggled to support families during the pandemic. Our sales depleted considerably, since march with the pandemic that restricts people from buying.”

Women crafting a body necklace / Photo Credit: Lumago Designs

She continued, “With the extra time on hands, we found an innovative and necessary way to adjust to the new normal. We worked towards these pieces (body necklaces) to inspire our customers for better days ahead. Thus, to remind them that there will be a time we can socialize and look forward to the future.”

Lumago Designs continues to create beautiful body necklaces and other jewelry. They are grateful for the help and support of donors and consumers to keep the initiative alive.


  • George Buid

    An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

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