Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This was the mantra of my generation of environmentally conscientious people in the 90s. One of the things I love the most about jewelry (aside from the fact that I get to make my own accessories and share them with everyone) is that it is easy to reuse and recycle almost every element of what we do. Have a ring you aren’t using? Melt it down and make another. Have a diamond in a setting that you don’t care for? Cut it out and remake it. Want to reduce your consumption? Easy, just buy better jewelry. You could buy only one new piece a year and pull together a beautiful and meaningful capsule collection.
That said, recycled gold should be the baseline standard for sustainable jewelry. Jewelers throughout the ages have collected scraps and bits of gold from their projects and have recycled them back into future projects with minimal environmental impact. I do this myself at the bench - melting down tiny bits and re-purposing them into new jewelry to create new eco-friendly pieces.
The above video shows the melting of gold scrap to roll out for a new piece of jewelry
Gold and silver are precious natural resources. Around the world gold is mined using industrial techniques, often times creating pollution, adding mercury to the water and displacing indigenous people. Much of today’s gold mining is done not just for jewelers, but for electronics as well, which has created a higher demand. The good news is that gold is 100% recyclable and re-usable, and Fair Mined metals are becoming easier to acquire. Artisanal gold mining is becoming more common and many of us see partnerships with specific mines as the way forward for the industry. Over the next year, I hope to offer Fair Mined metals as an option for many of my pieces, but until then, I continue to use only recycled gold.