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Soap Box: Green gold

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The US jewellery chain Pandora said at the start of this month that by 2025 it will stop using newly mined gold (and silver) in its products.

It says that, shifting completely to recycled silver and gold – currently 71% of its jewellery is made from recycled metals – will reduce CO2 emissions, and help diminish environmental degradation. Its claim is that recycling of metals uses fewer resources than mining new metals.

Companies like Pandora are constantly looking for ways to sell more goods. Getting that edge on the competition right now means joining the zeitgeist. Recycling gold is ‘in’ – it’s chic, a la mode, cool, it’s the zeitgeist.

Pandora is however merely following a well-trodden path – Chopard, the Swiss luxury jeweller whose slogan is “the artisan of motions since 1860” – has been saying that 100% of the gold it uses is ‘sustainable’ since early 2018.

Yet to be comprehensively ethically responsible, Pandora should probably market itself as a supporter of the Colombia-based Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), as does Chopard.

Mining for gold – mining for anything – can be a literally and metaphorically dirty business. It’s impossible to speak of “the gold industry” because it’s made up of a few very large companies – who are trying to behave with greater responsibility to people and the planet, and untold millions of small-scale miners trying to make a living.

Some refiners, such as Swiss-based Valcambi, are already offering ‘green gold’ bars.

‘Green gold’ – the concept of mining new gold and producing it with respect to the environment and people – is in its infancy. The ambition to deliver gold that is ethically produced is one that Glint supports.

ARM is all about ensuring better standards for these small-scale, or artisanal, gold miners. It points out that newly mined gold each year “represents less than 3%” of recyclable gold stocks that are already sitting above ground. It also adds that:

“By using recycled gold, jewellers claim that it will help diminish the negative impacts of dirty gold by reducing the demand for the newly mined metal. This is a deception because gold is money ! Gold has always played an important role in the international monetary system and is accepted globally…So gold is not mined for jewellery… Gold is mined to generate money, nothing else! Using recycled gold in the jewellery industry will not curb its extraction. Only the price of gold (which depends much more on the world’s insecurity than on jewellery demand) and the mining reserves can vary mining intensity”.

“Gold is money.” That’s precisely why Glint was established. Gold isn’t really about jewellery – it’s the oldest stable form of money, which is gold. We all need to ensure that small-scale miners are doing their jobs safely, cautiously and with respect to the planet. That’s why ARM is important – it recognises the reality, which is that mining for gold will continue – while trying to protect the best interest of small-scale miners (the big boys can look after themselves).

Yet at the same time, in a world where paper money, controlled by governments, year by year loses its purchasing power thanks to inflation, more and more people are turning to gold which they (correctly) see as a better form of currency.

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