A sad fact about environmental disasters is that our memory of them can quickly fade — sometimes before we’ve learned the lessons taught by our eco-missteps. Want to make sure the Gulf oil spill never gets forgotten? You can now wear that memory on your sleeve — literally.

A new line of jewelry by Shondra Leigh is made using tarballs picked up from the beaches of Grand Isle, La. Why? “The goal is for the jewelry to serve as a reminder that our oil problem does not disappear just because headlines fade,” says Leigh.

Leigh’s “Stained” series takes the detritus of an environmental disaster and turns it into something beautiful. The Atlanta jeweler describes each piece of jewelry as a unique “tar painting” — sealed under quartz and encased in recycled silver or gold. The tiny abstract “paintings” take many forms — some look like broken shards of glass, others like leaves and petals, and yet others like soft, undulating bodies.

Wear them as earrings, necklaces, rings, bangles or even cuffs made with reclaimed leather. Prices start at $85, with 20 percent of sales going to Vanishing America, a photography project by Holt Webb that documents nature’s changing ecosystems.

Oil spill tar balls turned into jewelry
An Atlanta jeweler upcycles tarballs picked up from the beaches of Louisiana's Grand Isle into eco-friendly jewelry.