The Wilson Center was thrilled to have been a partner for the 2018 Radical Jewelry Makeover Project!

More than 200 people participated in the jewelry drive for the Radical Jewelry Makeover Project this winter. Now it's time to see the creativity and skills of the 200 local professional artists and jewelry & metalsmithing students who breathed new life into the donated pieces! 

In addition to the exhibition of radically transformed pieces, guests will enjoy an adapted performance at 7pm by Footlights Award-nominated actor Josh Scheibe featuring stories collected with jewelry donations.

Radical Jewelry Makeover: Milwaukee is a project of Ethical Metalsmiths, the Union Art Gallery, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, and UW-Stout. All RJM jewelry sales will benefit UW student scholarships and Ethical Metalsmiths' efforts to educate and connect people with responsibly sourced materials. In addition, 30% of proceeds from RJM works purchased at our April 20th "Reveal" event will be donated to the Wilson Center!


Wisconsin is proud of our rich history of jewelry production and metalsmithing. Today, the EPA estimates that hard rock mining is the most toxic industry in the United States. Additionally, Earthworks reports that an estimated 50% of the gold mined each year is used for jewelry, and that a single gold ring leaves 20 tons of mine waste. Ethical Metalsmiths, an artist run non-profit organization seeks to galvanize mining reform efforts by staging an "alternative supply chain" and is working with the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Union Art Gallery, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, UW-Stout, Racine Art Museum, RAM’s Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Lynden Sculpture Garden, 3rd Ward Jewelry, Walkers Point Center for the Arts, Tasha Rae Jewelry, and Yours Truly among others to bring their successful project, Radical Jewelry Makeover, to Wisconsin this spring.

Radical Jewelry is a project sponsored by Ethical Metalsmiths, a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage social change that values jewelry made with ethically sourced materials. They do this by educating people about irresponsible mining, promoting transparency in jewelry supply chains and highlighting the collective efforts of jewelers actively changing their practices. Ethical Metalsmiths’ vision is a world in which people can create and enjoy jewelry made with materials from responsible sources that protect and sustain the earth, its peoples and cultures. 

Radical Jewelry Makeover: Wisconsin draws attention to the creativity and skills of local jewelry designers, reveals the stories behind our personal collections and encourages re-consideration of our habits of consumption. Currently, materials used in jewelry production are sourced from some of the poorest countries in the world, sacred lands and disputed territories. Often this sourcing comes at a great cost to the environment. In Wisconsin, RJM will bring together volunteer “miners,” who dig out and donate their old jewelry, with volunteer jewelers and students, working together as refiners and designers to collaborate on an exhibition of re-made jewelry. Radical Jewelry Makeover will offer an informed and creative alternative to traditional mining practices and jewelry production. 

Radical Jewelry Makeover has been traveling nationally and internationally to communities since 2007, educating jewelers of all levels about mining and material sourcing issues involved in jewelry making through a fun, fast-paced, month-long project. Jewelry students at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, UW-Stout, and professional jewelers from the regional community will be transforming donations into radically fresh and responsible jewelry.