Recycling gold jewellery: an ancient circle
We are often asked about whether we can re-use gold from an unworn sentimental piece to make a new jewellery item. We usually advise that the best option is to trade-in your gold (for a few reasons we’ll explain here), and to use the funds to put towards your new piece.
That said, we do understand the attachment to gold handed down through families, and some of our artists are happy to work with sentimental gold. So here is what you need to know …
Gold is a pure metal that can be melted and used over and over again. But it is the other metals that are used as hardening alloys (reducing it from 24ct to 9ct or 18ct) that alter the structure of the gold. When recycled gold is melted down and refined, it is usually done in very large batches, where the refiner separates the pure gold from the other metals that have been added. This pure gold can then be re-alloyed and used for making jewellery.
Re-using your gold
If you are attempting to re-use your own small amount of gold, there is much less pure gold to work with. It’s likely your pieces will have impurities such as solder joins and repairs that can make the metal unstable when melted down. The process can be delicate, uncertain and more expensive than using ‘new’ gold. And unless you have a lot of existing gold to work with, it’s likely more ‘new’ gold will still need to be added to balance the alloy and create enough material to make your new piece.
Recycling your gold
The alternative is to sell your gold, and embrace the idea of sending it back into circulation: returning your heirlooms into a cycle that has been turning for millenia.
The truth is that much of the ‘new’ gold available for jewellery-making is not freshly mined. Each year, around 30% of the total gold supply used comes from recycled sources. So it’s likely that the jewellery pieces you’re wearing now, and those you will buy in the future, will contain gold that has been circulating for many years.
There is beauty in the idea that your ring or special piece contains the echoes of past precious objects. Just as water cycles through the environment, evaporating and precipitating in an endless loop, so too gold moves through varying states and many human hands.
Rather than thinking about your specific piece of jewellery as a sentimental item, you can think of gold as a vast, ancient resource with millions of stories. Maybe a tiny speck of your grandmother’s gold once came from a ring worn by a noble woman in centuries past. And you will return it to the cycle to be worn by others, decades and centuries into the future.
This is what makes gold such an enduring commodity.
During times of uncertainty, gold prices loom large. The value of gold has hit record highs recently, so now is the perfect time to recycle your gold. Send it back into the world, and create a newly commissioned piece to honour the circle.