The growing importance of recycled gold was one of the big themes at a major international gathering of jewellers in the US.
The Portland Jewellery Symposium, held every year in Portland, Oregon, in the US, puts the spotlight on new techniques and developments in the industry worldwide. The issues discussed at the event inform the new approaches that jewellers large and small take when they are creating new designs and exploring new ways of working, Forbes reported.
This year, one of the areas under the spotlight was how the industry can responsibly source gold. And in addition to the growing pressure for more socially and environmentally-friendly ways of mining the precious metal, the use of recycled gold – the precious metal that’s obtained from your old and unwanted pieces – was a big focus.
Responsible sourcing expert, Bennett Freeman, gave one of the keynote speeches, in which he pointed out that demand from the public for sustainable gold is growing.
He said: “These pressures, this kind of scrutiny is not going to go away. The 21st Century is the century of sustainability, the century of accountability, the century of transparency.
“Every company, every industry is going to face ever rising pressures and expectations to be straightforward about how it does its business, about the character and quality of its content, of its products throughout the entire supply chain.”
One of the jewellers at the event, Toby Pomeroy is leading the pack when it comes to using recycled precious metals in his designs. He brands pieces made this way as EcoGold and EcoSilver and it’s won him a major following.
His business has received such demand for its Eclipse hoop earrings that are made completely from recycled precious metals, that he had to find a way of making them by machine inside of by hand.
“We’re really causing a revolution in the jewellery and mining industries. Anything is possible,” he said.
Mobile phone giant Samsung has been in the headlines after the worldwide recall of its Galaxy Note 7 after a number of incidents of overheating.
The company is desperate for customers who bought the ill-fated phone to return it and one reason has to be that the device contains valuable electronics including recycled gold that can be used again.
It’s estimated that for every million smartphones that are recycled, 75lbs of gold, 772lb of silver and 35,000-plus lbs of copper can be recovered. In the US alone, Samsung is trying to recover around two million of the models, although some customers are keeping a tight grip on their Galaxy Note 7s despite the risks, Fortune reported.
Samsung is offering customers who return their Galaxy Note 7s a refund plus cash off another model from its range. Once the phones are returned, they are passed on to specialist electronics recyclers, who ‘mine’ the devices for their precious metals to use again.
However, there are concerns that recovering the gold and silver in the Galaxy Note 7s will be more difficult than usual. Samsung has glued down the batteries in the phones, and it’s these batteries that are causing the overheating issue, making recovering the precious metals a potentially dangerous task.
According to Wired, an engineer from iFixit who tried to dismantle the model said the process was like carrying out brain surgery on a patient who might catch fire.
The electronics industry is keen to recover the recycled gold used in mobile phone electronics because of demand from manufacturers for the recycled metal for other products.
There is of course a much easier way of obtaining recycled gold, which doesn’t put you at any risk of catching fire. The old, broken and unwanted gold jewellery and items we buy for cash are all melted down and returned to the system, where they could be turned into anything from a wedding ring to a bullion bar – or even find their way into your next smartphone, laptop or tablet.
A former London-based jewellery designer, who moved to Los Angeles is making a name for herself by using recycled gold.
Durrah Khalil was never one for recycling until she started working with the LA-based brand Love Goodly.
She had previously relied on virgin gold, which was manufactured to her designs by a team in Italy.
Now she is using gold made from recycled items, such as the broken and unwanted gold pieces that we buy from our customers, and gold salvaged from other sources.
Durrah told the New Straits Times: “Recycled metal costs more but you can’t tell the difference just by looking at it. “We’re working with the same people in Italy that we’ve been with since the beginning, so I’m OK. I trust then and they trust that I’m doing this for the right reasons.”
The designer is now aiming to make her whole jewellery line between 80 and 100 per cent sustainable within the next 12 months. Recycled gold jewellery is becoming popular among buyers who support sustainability and prefer to live a greener lifestyle. They like reused gold because of their wish to avoid contributing to the harm gold mining does to the environment and many people are event prepared to pay more for it as a result. Using gold again may be fashionable now, but it’s not a new trend.
Jewellers in the UK have been using recycled gold to make their products alongside ‘new’ gold for many years. It’s impossible to tell whether the gold ring on your finger, or the broken gold earrings lying forgotten in your jewellery box, are made from newly-mined gold or whether they was created from melted down items that have been around for decades. That’s because the precious metal doesn’t lose any of its qualities and can be used time and time again. With demand from the industry high for more recycled gold, now is a great time to sell the old gold pieces you no longer want and earn some extra cash.
Recycled and Fairtrade gold are the most environmentally – and people – friendly types of the precious metal you can buy.
If you’re buying gold jewellery for yourself or as a gift, it’s likely that a fair proportion of it has been recycled from other items. The beauty of gold is that it can be melted down and turned into something new repeatedly, without losing any of its value or lustre.
The other way of wearing ethically sound gold jewellery is if you buy Fairtrade gold. Just like the better-known Fairtrade coffee or chocolate, in order to be labelled as Fairtrade, the metal has to be sourced responsibly and the miners have to receive a fair wage for their work.
During the first week of October, a delegation of Peruvian miners are in Britain to promote awareness of Fairtrade gold. They’ll be speaking at events in Leicester, Bangor in Wales and Chippenham.
The visitors will also be visiting a traditional Welsh gold mine and speaking at the 2016 UK Jewellery Conference.
Kevin McCullough, head of campaigns at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Gold: a symbol of love, power and wealth. Look behind the glitz, and the reality is not so glamorous. Gold mining is one of the most dangerous, precarious, and unfairly treated jobs in the world.
“Fairtrade gold stops exploitation. It can be traced from the mine through the refining process. This is backed up by documentation of all the transactions between miner and licensed jewellers. It means consumers and jewellers know that fairtrade gold comes from a socially and environmentally responsible, source which has economic benefits for miners.”
Recycled gold also helps to protect the environment. Each time you sell your broken or unwanted gold jewellery, as well as receiving cash, you’re helping lessen the impact of the harmful chemicals involved in gold mining by supplying gold to meet the global demand for the precious metal.
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