Fairmined Gold and Recycled Gold: An Important Difference

Recycled gold. We’ve all heard of it. From the “Cash for Gold” advertisements on TV to your favorite jewelry designers, recycled gold seems to be springing up everywhere. With sustainability at the forefront for many of us, recycled gold seems like an obvious force for good. But are there other options that tackle some of the more pressing issues surrounding the gold trade?  Indeed there are, and one of them is Fairmined Gold. 


First, let’s break down what exactly recycled gold is. Everyone knows about recycling, but you may not be familiar with applying that concept to the jewelry industry. We can recycle plastic water bottles, clothes, and yes, jewelry too. Recycled gold can be a  sort of “hodgepodge” of many different materials; a bit of gold from grandma’s old necklace, some old coins, or scraps from the jeweler's bench; that all get melted down together to create a new piece of recycled gold. Recycled gold is easily accessible, and has led to greater awareness about ethical jewelry by encouraging us to think about where our gold comes from. And with big hitters like Pandora, Cartier, and even Dell committing to a recycled gold future, it may seem like an excellent solution for ethical sourcing. But while recycled gold is a fantastic option, it doesn’t provide a silver bullet solution.


One drawback of recycled gold is its traceability. Once gold from different sources is mixed together, it becomes more difficult to trace its original source. While at least 90% of recycled gold comes from jewelry, the other 10% comes from technology and industrial byproducts. Today, recycled gold accounts for over 30% of the annual gold supply, but the remaining 67% is newly mined gold.


Unfortunately, no matter how much we recycle our current gold supply, it will not stop the worldwide demand for newly mined gold. Gold is an extremely rare and profitable material that holds its value, even in uncertain times. And its use in ever more consumer products and technology means that it will continue to be a valuable material for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, it's easy to see why the demand for gold will never diminish. As long as there is gold in the ground, people will continue to mine it. To truly combat the environmental and humanitarian effects of gold mining, we need to do more than just recycle the gold we have. 


80% of the world’s gold supply is mined industrially, but the remaining 20% of small-scale mining operations make up more than 90% of the entire gold mining workforce. These small-scale gold mining communities are some of the most marginalized people in society, working in remote areas under harsh and dangerous conditions, with little access to healthcare facilities. Prime targets for gangs and human rights abuses, these communities have been exploited for as long as we can remember. 


That’s where Fairmined Gold comes in. Fairmined Gold tackles the humanitarian as well as environmental aspects of ethical sourcing by ensuring complete traceability from the mine to its customer . The Fairmined Gold label assures consumers that their gold was mined in an environmentally responsible way, that miners are paid a fair wage, and that everyone operates in a safe and healthy workplace. While Fairmined Gold currently makes up less than 1% of the world's gold production, its strict standards are helping to bring more awareness to the humane and ecological aspects of ethical sourcing. 


The first step towards tackling the humanitarian aspects of ethical gold is making sure that miners are paid and treated fairly. Fairmined Gold ensures miners get a fair wage for their work, safe equipment, and training to encourage more environmentally sustainable practices. Fairmined Gold also addresses the environmental impact of artisanal gold mining by educating mining communities about more sustainable mining options. Artisanal mining is the leading cause of mercury pollution globally, so educating miners about mercury-free alternatives can go a long way. Mining communities also receive a premium for gold mined in line with fair mining standards, adding a financial incentive for using environmentally conscious mining techniques. 


At the Jewelry Edit, we understand the symbiotic relationship between awareness and increased sustainability. That’s why we’re always looking for ways to empower our customers with more ethical options for their jewelry boxes. As we look toward a cleaner gold future, we know that recycled gold is only one part of the solution. While both recycled and Fairmined Gold offer promising alternatives to traditional gold; only Fairmined Gold allows consumers to support mining communities while encouraging environmentally sustainable mining practices. However, no matter which ethical option you choose, you'll always be investing in a cleaner gold future.