A client recently told me that she was worried that 'recycled metal' meant that the jewelry would have a rough, unfinished look to it. In reality, recycled metal can have whatever finish you desire, the same way newly mined metal can! Calling it 'recycled' simply refers to the fact that the metal has been re-refined from a previous use (jewelry, electronics, etc.), as opposed to newly mined ore.
Diamonds aren't the only concerning element of jewelry when it comes to ethical and environmental impact. Fine metal mining (gold, silver, and platinum) in particular can be devastating to the environment - toxic chemicals (mercury contamination, anyone?), deforestation, and humanitarian concerns are all major issues. Many gold mines dump their toxic waste directly into local bodies of water. Not only that, but it takes literally tons (TONS!) of rock to generate just a few grams of precious metal - yikes! By using recycled (also called 'above-ground') metals, we completely eliminate our impact on the metal mining industry.
There's plenty of gold that's already been mined - about 187,200 tons of the stuff, according to the World Gold Council. With the limited amount of gold in the Earth dwindling, it's time to turn our focus to the material we've already got our hands on instead of digging bigger, deeper holes for less return.
When a metal is mined from the ground, the ore is chemically processed to purify the metal content to very high levels – typically 99.99%. Instead of digging the earth for ore, recycled metals are generated using scrap precious metals from various post-consumer sources which are purified, through a refining process, to the same high level as mined precious metals. The “refined” pure metals from both the mine and the recycled source are of identical purity. And they can be recycled repeatedly without changing their properties - science is great!
Once refined into pure precious metal, the material is alloyed and milled into jewelry the same way that newly mined ore is. In the hands of a good refiner (ours is also a certified Green Refiner), the result is top notch precious metal alloys - which we use to cast all of our jewelry.
Long story short - both newly mined ore and recycled metal go through the same refining and milling process. The only difference is where they're sourced from, and above ground metals are clearly the more ethical choice. Having the richness and quality of fine gold without contributing to modern metal mining means we get the best of everything.