Jessica Mindich is a Connecticut jewelry designer who has begun transforming recycled pistols, rifles and shotguns from Newark, N.J. – recovered in the city’s gun buyback program - into a line of fashionable bangle bracelets. The “Caliber Collection” began last fall with the melted down metal from 250 guns and bullet casings seized by the Newark Police Department. The result was a series of bracelets that embody the gun’s transformation from a destructive weapon to a powerful symbol of renewal. Jewelry for a Cause, Mindich’s business, donates 20 percent of the proceeds from each sale to the Gun Buyback Amnesty program in Newark, and recently presented a check for $20,000 to the city.
Each of the guns was processed and then released to Jewelry for a Cause by the Police Department of Newark. Their serial numbers were tracked and are an important part of the design in each of the pieces of jewelry. The metal from the guns and bullet casings are shredded by Sims Metal Management in Jersey City, according to The New York Times.
The name Caliber was chosen for its two meanings; the caliber of a gun and how the caliber of a city is raised when illegal guns are taken off its streets, the company's website explained. As a reminder of their source, the Caliber cuffs and bangles are marked on the inside with the serial number from a recovered weapon and "Newark." Prices range from $150 from a basic steel cuff to $375 for brass bangle with a diamond, the Greenwich Time has reported.
A former lawyer who lives in Greenwich with her husband and two young sons, Mindich started the company in 2008. It donates 20 percent of all sales - on items including necklaces and jewelry kits for charitable fundraisers - to nonprofit organizations, local and national.
The newest initiative began, the Times reported, when Mindich ran into Newark Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, who attended Yale Law School with her husband, at a conference. They spoke about Newark’s no-questions-asked gun buyback program, which was founded in 2009 and gave up to $200 dollars for each weapon that was turned in. The program needed an infusion of money – and the jewelry line was born, with the support of Booker and the city’s police chief.
Mindich is reportedly considering expanding the jewelry line to include other U.S. cities - no word of cities in her home state are among them. Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford are among the Connecticut communities that regularly conduct gun buyback programs.
New Haven’s gun buyback program brought in 65 weapons and 63 weapons, including a Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in the Newtown shooting, on successive Saturdays last December, the New Haven Register and WTNH-TV reported. A gun buyback program that began in December in Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, has brought in more than 500 weapons to date, according to an Associated Press report.