Why Recycled Gold Is a Scam


Hey Ana, can you tell us a little bit about you? Why is this issue important to you and how did you learn so much about it?

I’ve been making jewelry for 10+ years. I started out in fashion jewelry and quickly shifted over to working with precious metals. One day, at a networking event, I met a sustainability consultant who introduced me to the myriad of ethical issues behind gold and gemstone sourcing.  

As an artist and jeweler, I was making these beautiful celebratory pieces and for them to be attached to such intense negative issues just didn’t make sense to me. I needed to make art I could feel good about – do no harm (and hopefully do some good).

I knew I had to do better (and not just for my own sourcing but for the industry as a whole) so I continued digging and learning. About three years ago, I started working with Christina T Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting as Education Director and a sustainability consultant for other jewelers. I wanted to share my knowledge and make a bigger impact than I could with just my own sourcing decisions.

The company consults with small independent jewelers, larger companies, and some NGOs to help address sustainability issues in the jewelry industry.


This is one of the biggest obstacles with recycled gold – industry groups create the standards that certify something as recycled gold, however each one has a different definition for what constitutes recycled gold.

One common definition, from the Responsible Jewelry Council, is “gold that has been previously refined”. The other most commonly applied definition is “anything that doesn’t come directly from a mine”, which is how the LBMA defines it. These definitions allow for a lot of ambiguity – it could mean gold that was mined last week but stopped at an extra refinery (or sat in a bank) along the way to a jewelry manufacturer.

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