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By Marianna Tugareva
Here’s a fact that’s not so brilliant: one tiny gold ring is responsible for some 20-60 tonnes of toxic waste, contaminating water resources and threatening the lives of the people involved. But fear not, lovers of fine jewellery: our body adornments don’t have to be that dirty, as these precious metals, gems and other rare materials can be recycled over and over again.
In fact, a growing number of eco-conscious jewellery designers are gradually making the turn towards endless possibilities of using existing materials, bewitching us with their creative visions of recycled jewellery.
Here are 6 brands we think do it best.
1. Zefyr Jewels
Gentle winds of change in the jewellery world are blowing playfully from Australia, where adventurous designer Tanya Coelho found her passion for using recycled materials to create the eco-jewellery of her dreams. Her company Zefyr Jewels upcycles brass and sterling silver to produce exquisite pieces, inspired by the intricately embroidered textiles of Laos’ tribal peoples, whose stories are full of enchanting spiritual symbols.
The brand’s designer Monica Ruzansky explores light in all its forms, in both photography and jewellery. She studied metalsmithing in her home-country of Mexico and later in the USA, where she currently crafts her collection with recycled metals and gemstones. Her classical pieces with a subtle touch of ethereal sensibility emanate timeless simplicity, which works wonderfully at every occasion of everyday life and under any lighting.
Brooklyn-based jewellery designer and fine artist Jennifer Sarkilahti works in old technique of the ‘lost wax’, which is cast into metal exactly as it is carved, so that every mark made by the hand is seen in the final piece. Made with recycled sterling silver, gold, brass and bronze, her opulent creations with rough textures are inspired by ancient architecture, traditional textiles and full pantheon of the planet-loving goddesses.
Humanitarian activist Ana-Katarina Vinkler-Petrovic seeks perfection in fine jewellery in the pursuit of her passion for social justice. This former war correspondent strives for peace through art and sustainability: her guilt-free eponymous line is crafted in the USA with recycled gold and reclaimed diamonds. The sensual curvature of the new jewellery collection accentuates the body with striking elegance, enhanced by a kaleidoscope of bright fair-trade gemstones.
Ingle & Rhode recognise that most of the gold and platinum used in the jewellery industry is produced at a terrible social and environmental cost. On their website, they point out that globally, scale artisanal gold mining can be the ‘dirtiest’ form of finding gold, as these miners struggle to get a fair price for the metals they produce. As a result, most artisanal miners will use cheap mercury which can be highly hazardous to not only their health and that of their families and local communities if its use is not very carefully managed.
That’s why Ingle & Rhode prefer to use clean Fairtrade gold or 100% recycled gold and platinum. They melt down the metals to mainly create stunning engagement and wedding rings, but they will also make fine jewellery to order. Of course, any gems they source are also either ethical or recycled, too.
This designer’s stunning jewelry is made mainly with recycled metals, minimizing the environment and reducing demand for products from the mining industry. Non-ferrous metals like gold, platinum, silver, copper and nickel are easily recycled without changing the structural integrity or quality of the metal, which can later be altered with alloys to create the perfect Karat and colour combination desired by the customer. Many of Preshong’s clients also bring in gemstones they have inherited from loved ones and ask that they be reset into new rings, necklaces and bracelets that can be personalised and worn for decades to come.