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6 Reasons to Choose a Recycled Gold Engagement Ring

Recycled gold engagement rings are equally beautiful, and more sustainable than mined gold.

You’ve undoubtedly heard diamond companies using terms like “conflict-free” and “responsibly sourced” to describe where their diamonds come from. Where do the precious metals come from? Why isn’t metal labeled as conflict-free or responsibly sourced? Is it because there’s nothing wrong with metal mining? Unfortunately, no. There just isn’t as much attention given to where gold comes from, and how it’s sourced. Look beyond the beautiful color and enduring value of gold, and you’ll find it’s a messy business. Open pits, poisonous chemicals, and erosion are just a few of the byproducts of gold mining. But, it fetches $1,200 per ounce on the commodities exchange and continues to rise, so it’s unlikely to stop anytime soon.

Picture a gold mine. Complete mental blank? Maybe a western film? There isn’t a lot of media focus on modern day gold mining, and the gold industry is probably fine with that. Modern gold mining is larger in scale, and more destructive than it was during the American gold rush of 1849. To make a single engagement ring from newly mined gold, 20 tons of soil will be unearthed. If that’s not enough to convince you that a recycled ring is a better choice, here are the top reasons to consider.

Diamond miners panning for gold during the gold rush.
COPYRIGHT PBS

No. 1 — PEOPLE DESERVE SAFE DRINKING WATER

Similar to diamonds, most gold is harvested from open-pit mines. Dynamite is used to blow large holes in the ground. “Metallurgical experts, employed by mining corporations, test the soil for the presence of gold in tiny concentrations. If the soil’s concentration of gold is high enough—say five to 10 grams per ton or a bit more than half to one part per million—you’ve struck pay dirt. The soil is rich enough in gold to make what’s known as leach mining worth the effort.” Vice

Digging up the soil is just the beginning. The soil is then soaked in cyanide. Cyanide soaked leach pads separate gold from dirt. If stored improperly, the cyanide leaks into nearby rivers. poisoning the water and killing local wildlife species. 

The gold king mine spill in Colorado which leaked tons of toxic sludge into the water and turned the river orange.
GOLD KING MINE SPILL, COLORADO

NO.2 — RECYCLED GOLD ENGAGEMENT RINGS DON’T DAMAGE THE LAND

In the US, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 requires depleted mines to be restored to their original surface. The wildlife and forestry can’t be replaced, but the hole is filled. Unfortunately, it takes almost as long to fill a mine back in as it does to dig it out, particularly when you start to realize that “20 tons of rock and soil are displaced to produce a single gold ring.” Earthworks. It’s simply not possible to completely restore a habitat that’s endured mining to it’s original state.

An open pit mine near Carlin Nevada, showing the damage newly mined gold has on the enviroment in contrast to recycled gold.
AN OPEN PIT MINE NEAR CARLIN, NEVADA
COPYRIGHT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NO. 3 — CUTE ANIMALS

The sage grouse is a sensitive bird, known for its elaborate mating rituals. At home in the Rockies, the sage-grouse has become a kind of symbol, a bipartisan poster bird for environmental issues in this part of the midwestern US. Once, more than 16 million sage grouses roamed wild. Today there are less than 200,000 by some counts. While construction, climate change, road construction, brush fires (it’s hard to be an animal in 2019) have all contributed to the Sage Grouse’s decline in this area, so has gold mining. In Nevada, 81% of US gold and 5.5% of the world’s gold is mined, and the Sage Grouse population has been acutely affected. While new mining companies must take the sage grouse habitat into account when applying for permits, that hasn’t stopped companies like Paramount Gold Nevada Corp. from expanding their operations.

The sage grouse, a large prairie bird who's habitat is being destroying by mining for new metals.
THE SAGE GROUSE

NO. 4 — DO YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL?

Gold mining doesn’t just affect us here in the US. The largest gold mine in the world is a toxic operation in the otherwise pristine Ajkwa River in Indonesia. “Every year, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. dumps tens of millions of tons of mining waste into the Ajkwa River system in Indonesia.” Bloomberg.

The west papua aikwa river, a river destroyed by gold mining. A case for recycled gold.
THE DELTA OF WEST PAPUA’S AJKWA RIVER
COPYRIGHT: SUSAN SCHULMAN / THE GUARDIAN
The west papua aikwa river, a river destroyed by gold mining. A case for recycled gold.
COPYRIGHT: SUSAN SCHULMAN / THE GUARDIAN

Native fish have all but disappeared from this part of the river. The sediment washes from the river to the sea, where it poisons the broader ecosystem. This mine is located in the north of Papau, a strip of land with unmatched biodiversity that’s home to more than “1,200 species of fish and almost 600 species of reef-building (scleractinian) coral, or 75 percent of the world’s known total. The seascape also includes the largest Pacific leatherback turtle nesting area in the world, and migratory populations of sperm and Bryde’s whales, orcas and several dolphin species.” Conversvation.org

The west papua aikwa river, a river destroyed by gold mining. A case for recycled gold.
COPYRIGHT: SUSAN SCHULMAN / THE GUARDIAN

This spring the West Papua parliament approved legislation that will make West Papua the country’s first-ever conservation province in an effort to begin undoing decades of damage and protect the ecosystem for generations to come.

No. 5 — RECYCLED GOLD ENGAGEMENT RINGS DON’T CAUSE MERCURY POISONING

Mercury’s a health hazard, and not just for pregnant women. The number one cause of mercury pollution worldwide is gold mining. Specifically, small scale artisanal gold mining utilizes mercury to separate gold from sediment. It’s often done with bare hands. In Africa, this kind of mining is both a vital source of income and an ongoing health crisis. Most at risk are young children who are processing mercury unaware of the risk. Headaches, neurological damage, organ failure, and dizziness are common side effects, and the damage can be permanent. The EPA estimates small scale gold mining releases 400 metric tons of airborne mercury annually.

A bottle of mercury being used to separate gold from soil in alluvial mining operations.
COPYRIGHT BBC

No. 6 — RECYCLED GOLD ENGAGEMENT RINGS ARE GORGEOUS

Recycled gold is an equally beautiful and durable option with none of the problems of newly mined gold, and there’s plenty of it to go around. That’s why Frank Darling uses 100% recycled gold from post-consumer sources. Discover our collection of recycled gold engagement rings designed by Elise Coleman, formerly of Tiffany & Co. and while you’re at it, try them at home — for free. It’s on us.

Gold being refined at a recycled gold facility to be made into recycled gold engagement rings.
GOLD BEING REFINED