What is Recycled Gold Jewelry?

What is Recycled Gold Jewelry?

By Aïda Yuen Wong, Professor of Art History at Brandeis University; Founder and Head of Design of Callimode, an Asian American contemporary jewelry brand specializing in luxury designs to express antiracism in Asian calligraphy. Ethical & Sustainable Jewelry with Recycled Gold and Non-Conflict Diamonds.

August 15, 2022 (Expanded on October 10, 2022)

Just like how we recycle other items such as plastics and aluminum, recycling gold has been an economically efficient way of continuing to use gold in jewelry and other products. Recycling gold and precious metals is a cost-effective way to keep alloys affordable -- especially in the case of jewelry.

The methods of recycling gold itself are fairly simple: The metal is melted and refined until it is purified. There is a difference between recycling the scraps and excess stock in a refining plant itself, and refining the gold which was formerly used by the consumer into jewelry (or into artwork, dental fillings, mobile phones, and technology gadgets). Some golds that have a lot of symbolic value may be used in creating entirely new designs.

In other words, instead of digging up new ore for gold, some jewelry brands are recycling pieces nobody is wearing anymore. Recycled gold is gold that was formerly part of another jewelry item, that is been melted and refined, then recast and made into a new jewelry item. Recycled gold comes from either the source gold being mined mixed with other materials in the natural world, or it is broken down once created in the piece.

What is the Gold Recycling Process?

The recycling of gold is the process by which gold is separated from a residue of base metals, commonly silver and copper, from a previously used material containing gold. The recycled gold can then be melted down and formed into a new set of jewelry. Recyclers sort the gold out of the jewelry or coins based on its quality, and then melt it down in a crucible at extremely high temperatures.

Different types of materials are able to be melted down for recasting into jewelry and have different levels of purity. The gold that is checked and then recycled is the least impure type of gold and is able to be melted down into a new set of gold jewelry. This process can be repeated infinitely without any loss of integrity of the gold.

The metal recycling process is generally used to reclaim metals that have been damaged and discarded. There are different metal recycling processes used in various manufacturing industry and include: Acid Bath Disposal; Coating Dyeing; Surface Dressing; Electro-polishing, and Finishing.

Acids are added to the gold, so the resulting fluid particles coalesce and get trapped. The flakes of gold, which are made of mercury, silver, and other metals and elements, then fall to the bottom of a container where they are ready to be poured into ingots. After the gold has been recycled, it can return to being used as money, jewelry, or other objects long again.

What are the benefits of gold recycling?

Recycling of gold is used in the manufacture of gold bars, coins and jewellery. This technology is advantageous over mining because it allows the extraction of gold from ore or the recovery of gold from waste materials. Recycling gold is also used in the restoration of bodies to their natural state. Suppliers of gold can purchase recycled gold. This is a good way to reduce their overall supply cost. They can purchase refined gold that is lower in price.

Gold mining may cause detrimental effects such as water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions, but the good thing is we can avoid the need for mining for new materials - thanks to recycled gold.

Why Gold Jewelry is a Good Investment?

Today’s price for gold is over $1700 per ounce. Gold jewelry is an attractive investment because it promises high dividend income. The price of gold has significantly increased over the past twenty years, due to the efforts of the people who are trying to increase gold’s quantity and thus, improve the gold supply. However, this price increase has also been accomplished because of the war in Iraq beginning in 2003, as gold is sometimes used as currency in the Middle East. Jewelry is only one of many gold investments. Gold is a popular investment because of its reliable value and historical price increase.

Sustainability Principle

Due to the need for more gold and the current supply shortage, many producers are recycling old gold, coins and jewelry in order to make new gold jewelry. With recycled gold, they are able to produce new jewelry without having to import more gold.

Recycling gold is an important part of a sustainable lifestyle. It can extend the life of gold jewelry. The quality of recycled gold is also just as good as that of newly mined gold. For other items, it can help to build a greener world and reduce greenhouse emissions. Buying or making jewelry that uses recycled gold is the way to get involved with a better future. Once you have purchased the gold, you can help preserve the world's natural resources.

There are other benefits of buying and wearing recycled gold jewelry. It is still a beautiful piece of jewelry. The recycled gold is still real gold, suitable for use in jewelry. It is made in the same ways as gold mined from the earth. About one-third of all gold jewelry is made of recycled gold. Some people will pay more for gold that was recycled.


Some critics say the process to remelt metals still produces waste, and that any decrease in gold mining harms small communities that depend on that industry. This is great all around, but while jewelers can do their part by being eco-friendly, the mining industry still is going to keep extracting gold whether or not there is this recycling process, and that does nothing for those ethical mining communities. 

Callimode Supports Sustainability

Your purchasing a piece of recycled gold jewelry has little societal impact on mining and environmental impact. Since gold can be recycled without degrading its quality, it makes sense to invest in a sustainable solution that will not only help the environment, but also keep this piece of gold jewelry around for generations. Instead of buying jewelry made with freshly mined gold, consider buying pieces made from recycled gold.

Callimode is an environmentally-friendly jewelry company that promotes recycling. From Callimode, you are buying recycled gold from a reputable source. Our manufacturer in Thailand only sources gold from a Responsible Jewellery Council-Certified refinery. The RJC Code of Practices (COP) is the global standard for the responsible jewelry and watch industry, and its system has been independently evaluated against ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice for sustainability. For more information, see isealalliance.org.

Select Sources: