A UNIQUE ETHOS » LAIBACH
PRINCIPLES » GOLD AND PRECIOUS METALS
Principle on Sustainable Recycled Precious Metals and Comment
on Media Reports ...
Authored by the non-profit
web resource Looking-Glass (Environmental Arts and Media) and
- mentor of Kerstin Laibach's ethical jewellery principles.
To remind Kerstin Laibach's
customers of two vital main principles of her pioneering jewellery
Kerstin Laibach uses only
recycled precious metals and not new-mined and no
animal derivatives are used in any aspect of her pieces including
the crafting tools and materials.
is the difference between recycled gold and new-mined gold?
Absolutely nothing. Gold is gold,
whether it is directly fresh-mined or old / used gold that has
been endlessly recycled (refined).
For example, rainwater is rainwater; however many times it evaporates
from a puddle, turns into a cloud and rains down again it's always
So, recycled pure gold is identical to fresh-mined pure gold when
it ends up in your jewellery.
The closest you can get to calling a form of gold "ethical"
or "environmentally friendly" is recycled gold. Even
then, it's the action of recycling which is ethical ... not the
However, recycled gold is the only sound choice for the environmentally
conscious jewellery buyer. There is also no difference between
new-mined platinum, new mined silver and their recycled counterparts.
The word "recycled"
can have negative connotations to some jewellery customers who
may think the quality of recycled gold, silver,platinum or palladium
made into jewellery is inferior to its fresh-mined countreparts.
This is not the case at all as the information above explains.
THE GOLDRUSH ...
(Part of an editorial
contribution by Looking-Glass and VeggieGlobal.)
To describe any form
of habitat-displacing new-mined gold, platinum and silver in jewellery
as ethical and green and a "sustainable" source is contradictory
and grossly misleading, and perhaps the most blatant example of
greenwashing to date. There is more than enough recycled precious
metals available to make jewellery indefinitely (recycling which
is obviously a sustainable source) and there is no valid
argument to support the backwards move from recycled to mined
gold, platinum and silver - an unfortunate trend triggered by
Fairtrade, as many former "ethical" jewellery makers
who previously used recycled have now jumped on the Fair-mined
gravy train to benefit from its lucrative rewards through Fairtrade
branded promotion. The Fairtrade debacle causes more gold
to be mined than previously, as more "ethical" jewellers
create the demand. There is no such thing as "Sustainable"
mined gold. Once gold is mined it's gone. It's not coffee or bananas
which grow again.
If you want to help lift subsistence
/ artisnal communities out of poverty, Kerstin Laibach's solution
is to donate a percentage of her profits to educational, re-naturing
and development programmes in these regions, which encourages
truly sustainable and profitable vocations for communities - to
protect and maintain the delicate ecosystems of their rivers and
forests ... instead of digging them up.
Kerstin takes a genuinely
responsible approach to her ecological crafting processes by ensuring
a continuous circle of sustainability. Her jewellery is made from
recycled metals and natural surface gathered stones and at the
end of the long life of a Laibach jewellery piece, it's fully
recyclable or renewable. (Even if a piece ended its days buried
as landfill waste, its component parts are all natural and harmless
to the environmement.)
Response by Kerstin Laibach and Looking-Glass to the UK Channel
4 Documentary "Dispatches... The Real Price of Gold"
(broadcast in 2011).
We felt the general
context of the programme was well balanced. We were pleased to
note that (for once) any "trend" biasing towards Fairtrade
and their excursion into the gold industry was not so apparent
and subsequently put more in context within the general picture
regarding the overall impact of gold-mining. This meant the programme
more clearly defined points of what consumers might understand
about the positives and negatives of the gold supply to the jewellery
industry. However, one fatal error regarding the availability
of recycled gold knocked sideways the public's understanding of
what they might find as as the crucial ethical choice in their
jewellery shop. The programme said that recycled gold was scarce
and not easily available. This could not be further from the truth
and it is most odd why the programme suggested otherwise; we can
only imagine that Dispatches programme researchers were misinformed
from an external source. We hope that Channel 4 will notify viewers
of this mistake sometime in the near future. Recycled gold is
readily available from many refiners. In fact, refiners have more
recycled gold available than ever because so much old gold has
been sold by the public to gold buyers which is then sent to refiners,
many of who only refine post consumer gold, teeth fillings etc.
Laibach's own refiner even states that they are buying in more
old gold than they are selling. The Channel
4 forum page has subsequently
been full of comments believing that recycled gold is not readily
available. One comment wrongly claimed that recycling gold was
highly polluting and then went on to (bizarrely) suggest that
jewellers should mine their own gold. Recycling refiners, by law,
have to maintain a strict code of control on any emissions created
from the refining process. The truth is that reputable refiners
are now so technically advanced in safely processing precious
metals, that any form of emissions that may be produced, if at
all, are negligible, and absolutely nothing in comparison to the
devastation created by mining. In fact, to be passed as approx
99.99% pure (24ct) and thereafter hallmarked for use as bullion
or for the jewllery industry, all gold ... old and
new-mined gold has to be refined to certify its purity ... including
fairtrade mined gold.
Environmental Arts and Media
commentary from Looking-Glass on jewellery industry greenwashing