In Newark, N.J., guns serve another use

Jewelry designer Jessica Mindich is transforming confiscated guns and shell casings into bracelets made from melted-down weapons.
CBS News

(CBS News) NEWARK, N.J. - With 90 murders recorded in their city last year, residents of Newark, New Jersey are all too familiar with the toll of gun violence. Now the city is trying a new approach to get guns off the streets with an unexpected this week.

Newark's police director Sam DeMaio is convinced that the more guns he can round up, the lower crime will be.

"The gun violence is the number one thing we are battling every day," he said.

Last year, the Newark police collected more than 850 guns, the second highest amount they've ever brought in. But once they got them off the streets, they had another problem -- what to do with all of them.

That's where jewelry designer Jessica Mindich stepped in. She's transforming the guns and shell casings into bracelets made from melted-down weapons.

"I was going to repurpose them into something that was beautiful, hopefully that would connect with both the message of turning kind of ugly into beautiful," she said.

DeMaio said: "'We're gonna do what? Melt down guns and make jewelry out of it?' I thought it was really crazy. But then I met with Jessica and saw her passion for it."

The bracelets sell for between $150 and $375. Angela Santomero bought three.

"Knowing that these came from guns and bullet casings -- they're gorgeous. Jessica's got a great eye for style and knowing that it's all for a cause," said Santomero.

Mindich donates her earnings back to Newark. On Friday, she handed Mayor Cory Booker $20,000 for the city's gun buyback program.

"It's a thrilling thing to be able to quantify that these bracelets equal fewer guns on the street," said Mindich.

Mindich said she plans to expand her efforts to other cities, because Newark isn't the only place awash in guns.