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The new U.S. philanthropic chic: bullets to bling

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By Mary Barr Mann

MAPLEWOOD, N.J., Jan 18 (Reuters) - The age-old call to beat swords into ploughshares is being answered in Newark, New Jersey by turning bullets into bling.

Guns and shell casings seized by the Newark Police are being melted down and made into bracelets by a jewelry company. A portion of proceeds from each sale goes to fund gun buy-back amnesty programs in New Jersey's largest city.

The company, Jewelry for a Cause, worked with Newark Mayor Cory Booker and the city police chief to design the "Caliber Collection".

It features steel bangles and cuffs, each engraved with the serial number of the illegal gun it was fashioned from. Brass pieces are made from casings swept from crime scenes in the city, which has a serious gun violence problem.

The sleek, simple line by designer Jessica Mindich has raised more than $20,000 since its debut on November 28, Booker said on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC this week.

He said the jewelry and buy-back programs are "not a cure-all, but everybody has the power to do something little, something small to make a difference."

The collection has gained added attention since the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut prompted President Barack Obama to launch the biggest U.S. gun control push in generations. {ID:nL1E9CG394]

The Caliber Collection is "a series of pieces that embody the gun's transformation from a destructive weapon to a powerful symbol of renewal," the Connecticut-based jewelry maker says on its website JewelryForACause.net.

Cuffs and bracelets are available with or without diamonds and range in price from $150 for the steel cuff to $375 for the brass bangle with diamonds. (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130118/the-new-us-philanthropic-chic-bullets-bling