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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Ann

Why recycle gold?

I'm always reading, researching, looking for information to better understand the industry I'm working in and what I can do better.

As an eco conscious and eco aware jeweller I'm always striving to make sure this is in all areas on my business. Not just one element, but for everything and all areas. It includes the materials, packaging materials, suppliers I use, how I make the jewellery even how I get to work. I'm in no way perfect, nor do I pretend or claim to be. What I am is concerned and I'm worried about our planet and what we as an industry are doing to it. We need to rethink how we work, how we buy, how we consume. In my recent readings I learnt that of the current gold Supplies which we know about, the below ground gold reserves we have left will be used up in less that 18years. This blows my mind.

I do respect what fairtrade, fairmined and the jewellers choosing to work with them are doing from an humanitarian view point, And fairmined ecological from a more environmental and humanitarian view point. and I'm not trying to silence or shut anyone down, ever. I'm all for jewellers supporting jewellers, anyone tying to make a difference. I'm always open to the conversation and anyone that is trying to make improvements within the industry. I always want to hear from another view point because this is how we grow, evolve, learn and how we as an industry improve. I was even involved with fairtrade gold for a period of time. But the more listening, more research and learning I did and I've done the more that recycled gold felt like the right direction to a line with what I believe. I couldn't be a eco conscious jeweller and not work in recycled materials. Recycled gold, as I've discussed before has a carbon footprint that is 100's times smaller, 600 times smaller in fact (you can read more here) than virgin gold (virgin gold includes fairtrade and fairmined) I have learnt that some people within the trade believe that recycled gold is the "lazy choice" or "green washing" or somehow not sustainable, and this both confuses me and makes me sad. From a climate crisis perspective, using recycled gold is more sustainable then using virgin gold. Gold is a no replenishing resource, so how can any form of mining be consider sustainable? Using recycled gold, Its not a lazy choice in any way. I spend so much time researching, reading, reaching out to people and questioning, And further more, recycled silver is never questioned in the same way, only recycled gold.

Perhaps its could be considered lazy if it's the only thing you are doing within your business, but it would still be a positive step from a climate crisi view point. This would be true if say only using fairtrade or fairmined gold but not address any other practices within your business and suddenly referring to yours as ethical. I've said before, ethical is a tricky word to use. In fact lots of words are tricky and they mean different things to different people. Which is why I support and believe in the Jewelry Glossary Project to help with language used within the industry worldwide.

I have to work in a way that feel's right. From the research I continue to do, recycled gold has to be considered and we need to have a larger conversation about it. We are in a climate crisis, we can not deny this. There's a corner of the industry that just wants to close off and silence those working with recycled gold. Why? What happens in 18 years time when these below ground reserves are exhausted? Will recycled gold be ok then? But what will happen to the mining communities if new reserves aren't found for them to mine? Should new sites be found? Shouldn't we be looking for other ways to help support these communities?

Also we need to connect with other industries using gold. It can't just be jewellers using fairMined, fairmined ecological and fairtrade, it needs to expand to all markets. Or should other markets us recycle gold and the jewellery sector fairmined, fairmined ecological and fairtrade? But again, lets not forget that gold is a non replenishing resource.

The way I work, only making to order or very small batch production, only selling direct to customers is all very considered. It's all about having as little impact as possible and reducing my impact. Of course I want people to buy my jewellery, I adore making jewellery but I do not want it to become almost mass produced even on a small scale. That too goes against what I believe in.

This has been one agreement I've heard used that using recycled gold just drives demand for more gold. And perhaps this is true, but we have so much gold in circulation, we need to look into other ways to use what we all ready have in "waste products", we need to encourage urban mining, removing the gold from devices such as mobile phones.

And so I wonder, what is it about recycled gold that gets people within the industry, so angry at points? Gold can be recycled indefinitely... yep, gold can be recycled indefinitely! Its not the same a plastic bottles which can only be recycled a certain amount of times before it can be recycle no more. It doesn't loose its value, no proprieties in in change. Its still gold.

Have a look in your jewellery box, that odd gold earring back, those broken gold chains, all those can be recycled and reworked. I've also reached out to a company that i'm waiting to hear back from, that offer recycling services to removed precious metals from devices, so once I have more information I will be back with another blog relating to recycle golds.

As ever i'm always open to a conversation.


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