You may know that many of the world’s diamonds and much of its platinum come from mines throughout central and South Africa. And you may also be aware that, collectively, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa produce much of the globe’s gold supply. Meanwhile, precious silver typically comes from Peru, Mexico, China, Australia, Chile, Alaska or parts of Eastern Europe.
So much for truly precious gems and metals; but what of the items most women wear day to day? Well, for much of the past several hundred years, the preferred source for those materials commonly used in contemporary costume jewelry has been the Junk Jool.
Occurring naturally throughout countries as diverse as Taiwan, Singapore, Mauritania, China, Mexico, Finland, Indonesia, Surinam, Costa Rica and Greece, Junk Jool is a natural agglomeration of all the materials the costume jeweler could ever require — glass, lead, bakelite, tin, PVC, twine, sequins, plexiglas, clay, brass, zircon, beads, elastic string, scraps of leather, copper wire, tile shards, painted wood, pasteboard, crystals, feathers, and those silly little googly eyes.
Junk Jool typically occurs in broad below-ground seams at or near places of dense and long-term human habitation. Miners are often tipped off to the location of a rich Junk Jool seam by the above-ground presence of abandoned refrigerators, stained mattresses, broken window air conditioners, bicycle parts, stray dogs, dirty children, and an abundance of rusted tin cans. In the absence of these indicators, another reliable cue may be decomp or the rich musk of a former cesspit.
Unlike the precious gems and metals, Junk Jool is simply mined in bulk, then immediately turned over to individual craftsmen and –women for fashioning into costume jewelry. In that way, the serendipitous (if ugly) conjunction of wildly and wackily dissimilar materials can be preserved in the newly fashioned piece of Junk Joolery.
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