Recycling Week 2021
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were a call to action from all UN Member States in 2015 to ‘promote prosperity while protecting the planet’. We are all encouraged to actively make changes in our lives towards 17 different goals, of which number 12 is: ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’. It’s a goal that resonates with us because of the way we work – we want whatever we make to be passed down the generations and loved and admired by those that wear it. It’s definitely not fast fashion!
One of the things we particularly love to do is to breathe new life into old jewellery, especially pieces which have been loved through the years and are really in need of a bit of TLC. The idea of doing something like this is amazing from an emotional perspective – knowing that you can wear your grandma’s engagement ring again is just magical. Whether you choose to keep the design as close to the original as possible or completely re-work it to fit your style.
Another amazing benefit of re-using old jewellery is one that we talk about less often but is actually really important and feeds in directly to SDG 12. Re-using old gold and gemstones means no new mining is taking place. On the face of it, this seems obvious, but its environmental impact is pretty big.
Gold mining has a huge environmental impact. In 2018 alone, 126 million tonnes of CO2 were produced by the gold mining industry – that’s 20% of the CO2 output of Germany! When you add statistics like 1 tonne of ground needs to be moved to produce 3-5g of gold, and that 1kg of gold therefore results in 30 tonnes CO2, you can see that a lot needs to change. Choosing Fairtrade gold is one way of making a difference because the small-scale miners are trained to reduce their environmental impact, but understandably, some people would prefer to avoid new mining altogether.
In June of 2021 we joined Fair Lux’s pledge scheme for a more responsible and sustainable future for the jewellery industry: pledging that ‘within six months, 100% of the gold bullion we buy will either be Fairtrade or recycled’. Using Fairtrade gold is an amazing opportunity to support miners and their communities, but where this is not an option, we feel that using recycled gold is a great ethical alternative. We want our customers to know that the jewellery we make for them with so much care has also enabled positive change for the people further back in the supply chain.
Recycling old jewellery is a great way to do this. Whilst you might not know the history of how the gold in grandma’s jewellery was mined - because pure gold is an element - it is infinitely re-useable. Melting it down in the workshop takes some skill but our goldsmiths are well used to the technical challenges involved and take them in their stride. (If you do need to add new gold to create your design, we can always add newly recycled gold into the mix to ensure you have enough.) Sometimes the gold doesn’t even need to be melted down at all – an old wedding ring, for example, could be shaped and worked to become the band for an engagement ring or part of a pendant; meaning that you can actually see the original piece within the new design.
In the same way, gemstones can also be re-used. Most people tend to keep gemstones as they are, but if you have one that is particularly chipped or scratched there is often the opportunity to re-polish or even re-cut the gem to suit your new jewellery.
Recycling old jewellery in these ways has been shown to have a much lower environmental impact than starting with new materials. If we can start off with a piece that already has history, we feed into a circular economy that can continue down the generations. Recycling your jewellery is not just a nice thing to do for you, it’s a great thing to do for the planet.