Fairmined Gold vs. Recycled Gold: Which is One More Ethical & Environmentally Friendly?

May 01, 2020 2 Comments

Fairmined Gold vs. Recycled Gold: Which is One More Ethical & Environmentally Friendly? By Valley Rose


This post is about fairmined gold and how it compares to recycled gold. I’m sure you have all heard of recycled gold but fairmined gold is a more ethical and more eco-friendly choice for fine jewelry.

When it comes to ethical and eco-friendly fine jewelry, you really just have two choices: you have fairmined gold or you have recycled gold. 

Is Fairmined gold Real gold?

Fairmined is real gold. Fairmined gold describes gold that is under the Fairmined certification standard and guarantees traceability, environmental protection and development of small mining communities. 

How is Fairmined certified gold different from normal gold?

Fairmined gold and normal gold are very different. Normal gold is extracted with toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury that has disastrous effects on the environment and miners are not protected in any way making dangerous working conditions and child labor commonplace. Fairmined gold successfully eradicates these issues by providing protection for workers, training and support of at risk mining communities. 

fairmined gold literature

What is Fairmined Gold?

Fairmined gold is gold that comes from our artisanal small scale mines, and has to go through a rigorous certification process to ensure that it meets a number of criteria to certify it fairmined. 

What is Recycled Gold?

Recycled gold is gold that is previously part of another piece of jewelry and it's been melted down and refined, and cast again and made into a new piece of jewelry.

The good thing about gold is that it can be infinitely recycled, it can be melted down millions of times and never lose its integrity. It just needs to be remixed with other alloys to make up the carat of the gold.

My collection is predominantly fairmined gold for all the cast pieces and elements, but for a lot of the findings, and chains, and clasps, they come in recycled gold.

fairmined gold versus recycled gold

Is Fairmined Gold Traceable?

Fairmined gold is fully traceable thanks to ARM and SCS global services. When talking about our gold, our gold comes from artisanal small scale mines in Columbia and Peru. Every player in the fairmined supply chain has to be certified fairmined from the miners, to recovery, to the person who brings it to market. At this time only small scale artisanal mines can be certified fairmined.

fairmined gold nugget

Is Recycled Gold Traceable?

Recycled gold cannot be traced. It's pretty much impossible unless you're dealing with heirloom gold, but that's really rare. So you have to consider that recycled gold could come from a number of sources including being originally mined in a way in recent history that harmed people and the planet. 

fairmined gold women miners

fairmined gold mine facility

fairmined gold llamas

Is Fairmined Gold Ethical?

Fairmined gold is very ethical as the name implies. The miners are paid a fair living wage and their communities flourish. Fairmined certified mines have to have safe working conditions, they have to have gender equality, they also cannot employ children, and they cannot finance conflict.

Buying recycled gold hasn't reduced the demand for gold mining, but buying fairmined gold has made a noticeable difference in the lives of miners that would otherwise be at great risk.

fairmined gold panning for gold

Is Recycled Gold Ethical?

I would say that recycled gold isn't really ethical. I would say it's neutral. It originally came from mines who mistreated their employees, underpaid them, and exposed them to dangerous working conditions.

Is Fairmined Gold Eco-Friendly?

Fairmined mines are eco-friendly because they have to meet a number of rigorous standards for handling of toxic chemicals and also for protecting the environment. Fairmined mines ensure that there's no drinking water contamination, and that there's a positive environmental legacy for their surrounding environment.

fairmined gold mine

Is Recycled Gold Eco-Friendly?

I would argue that recycled gold isn't really eco-friendly because it still needs to be mined in a way at its origin where it contributes to deforestation and polluting of drinking water. Like I said, recycled gold isn't decreasing the demand for gold mining, so we can't really say yet that it's making a positive impact, we should still be recycling gold of course, but the answer is fairmined gold.

I hope you enjoyed my discussion on fairmined gold versus recycled gold. As you can tell, I'm a huge fan of fairmined gold. Fairmined gold is making a huge difference in the gold mining industry and for jewelers it's just a no brainer choice to use. Your purchase really helps improve the lives of so many people in the supply chain, and it should be the standard for gold everywhere.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments below!

2 Responses

Brittany Groshong
Brittany Groshong

June 16, 2024

Hi AUgusta Thank you for your comment. You bring up many important points and I would like to address it with the research and knowledge that I know to be true about gold mining. Mining in New Zealand does not have human rights issues when it comes to extracting the gold because of New Zealand’s strict codes of workers rights, you are right by this it is considered “ethical” gold but it is not environmentally friendly like you said so the full ethical classification is not fully deserved. However it is important to point out we are talking about two very different programs because gold mining in New Zealand is not Fairmined Certified Gold from Small Scale Artisanal mining, it is commercial gold mining. Or like you said “conventional mining.”

Mining in New Zealand grossly fails to address the environmental impact and impact on the local communities from the irresponsible handling of chemicals and disruption of the environment. For a country like New Zealand that has a healthy economy, gold mining can be boycotted which is why your community has fought against it for 40 years. New Zealand has the privilege to boycott gold mining operations because there are many other industries to support the economy, but a lot of communities around the world do not have that privilege as sources of income are scarce. Which is why these communities turn to gold mining for their survival.

Fairmined Certified gold not only addresses gold mining from a human rights perspective but also the local environmental and community impact by the use of safe chemical handling, going mercury free, and minimal environmental disturbance. It brings vital income to local economies and helps their infrastructure to flourish. Without a program like Fairmined Gold the alternative may be very grim.

You said there is plenty of gold above ground already, and we do not need to mine gold at all. This is a sentiment a lot of people share but unfortunately the reality is that gold mining will never cease as long as our society deems it valuable. There will always be an entity that will relentlessly pursue this material either in destructive ways or in more responsible ways like Fairmined Gold. Research shows that all the Recycled gold that is commonly used for “ethical jewelry” does contain newly mined gold anyways often from illicit and high risk sources. This is why experts and activist agree we need to mitigate the negative effects of gold mining as quickly as possible and do it much more responsibly because mining gold will not be stopping in our lifetimes.


June 16, 2024

I live in Mew Zealand, a country that claims to
Produce ethical gold – and would fit your definition. But i live in a community that has been figjting to keep them out for 40 + years.. we dont think their gold is ethical. They will leavr toxic tailings long after they are Gone and we dont Want it – or them amd their trucks and carbon. Dont we count?
Gold is infinitely rwcycleabke and there is plEnty above ground already! The only gold that should be mined now is for Need not Greed. No more conventional mining – its all dirty!

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