Love some Bling?
Jewelry sales in the US have risen more than 32% compared to 2020. American households spend more than $2,200 every year on jewelry. Beneath the shine and sparkle, the jewelry business (like most other) is rife with substandard ethics and a lack of transparency. Let’s not kid ourselves, ethical jewelry certification is far from credible making it difficult to pinpoint jewelry source and hence hard for consumers to discern truth.
Like fast fashion, cheap jewelry is often worn just a handful of times before ending up in landfill. Also cheap jewelry can contain harmful chemicals irritating the skin. What’s muddying the jewelry space even more is the entrance of jewelry brands selling the concept of ethical recycled jewelry and fair labor practices… mixing a minuscule amount of recycled gold into cheap jewelry! Once in a landfill, metal and plastic “gemstones” don’t biodegrade and end up releasing toxins into the air and water. A vicious cycle…
With more women working, increases in E-commerce sales, and a rising GDP per capita—jewelry market growth is forecasted to tick up until at least 2023. So, let’s scrape the surface as best we can on recycled jewelry to better inform our jewelry purchases…
Halo on Recycled Gold
Precious metals such as Silver and Gold can be easily melted and transformed into new jewelry – keeping original qualities minus the tedious process of new mining. They can be repaired and reused – a true asset from an environmental and financial standpoint.
Quote: “According to the World Gold Council, recycled gold accounted for 28 percent of the total global gold supply of 4,633 metric tons in 2020; 90 percent of that recycled gold comes from discarded jewelry and the rest from a growing mountain of electronic waste such as cellphones and laptops.”
“There’s 80 times as much gold in one ton of cell phones as there is in a gold mine, says Federico Magalini, an expert on electronic waste. However, it’s difficult to extract gold from these electronics because the gold is embedded in plastic or metal housing, and it might make up only 2% of a product’s weight.
A silver lining… “real” jewelry remains a pleasure to own and care of – An investment for the long haul. But succumb to poorly made jewelry with enticing feel-good taglines and you’ll be met with silver or gold plating that quickly fades, leaving the brassy look or cheaper materials behind!
Jumping on the lucrative recycled jewelry bandwagon are shopping mall brands like Pandora, E-commerce brands such as Mejuri or Ana Luisa, and luxury designers like Cartier – these brands have started utilizing recycled & fairly mined metals…
Let’s be clear: very few brands are nailing the transparency factor, hoping you’ll forget and dash to buy the next piece of “ethical recycled jewelry” – So do your research!
Some good news however… A recent study showed that more than 80% of consumers wanted conflict free jewelry and are willing to pay more for it.
Is Recycled Jewelry the Answer?
To bring perspective to “why recycled jewelry?” let’s at a high-level look at the problems that arise from mining precious metals (i.e., gold, silver, and platinum):
🔖Water waste and pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and ecosystem loss.
🔖Metal mining requires massive amounts of water, contaminating groundwater and drinking supplies.
🔖Biodiversity and vegetation loss are common in mined areas, as is erosion.
🔖From nickel to lead we’re exposed to a plethora of harmful materials.
🔖Jewelry fashion trends are short-lived, which means jewelry often ends up in a landfill where it’ll remain likely ‘forever’.
If you’re into bling, do it with style – “be informed” and own the asset for the “long haul”