Courage & Reward: Six Things You Might Not Know About Recycled Gold and Silver
Here at Debrasic, we have a huge love for recycled gold and silver.
We love it for all the reasons you might guess: it’s beautiful, meaningful, responsible, timeless and completely unique. There’s a certain magic about it. And of course, it reduces demand for mining and helps keep our green hills intact.
But putting a priceless heirloom ring under the 1200-degree flame of a jewellery torch isn’t all rosy.
As Lauren Haynes explains: “It’s brave.”
“I get excited that people are brave enough to do it,” she said. “The responsibility is huge and I take that very seriously.”
Today we invite you to learn a little more about the courage, risk and reward behind recycled gold.
There are two types of recycled gold. The concept of recycled gold often conjures images of vintage wedding rings being melted and re-cast. Another type of recycled gold is made from the cut-offs on a jeweller’s workbench. Jewellers collect these tiny scraps of previously unused gold and usually send them back to the gold wholesaler for credit. Here at Debrasic, Lauren melts these off-cuts in the studio to create her signature line of recycled gold earrings.
Studio-recycled vintage gold is unrefined. When we melt vintage gold jewellery in the studio, the resulting gold is unrefined. Tiny amounts of solder get into the gold. The resulting unrefined gold has small natural imperfections. While this can enhance the one-of-a-kind beauty of the piece, it can also make the material more difficult and fragile to work with during the process. This is when years of experience in studio recycling become so valuable.
Recycling jewellery changes its value. Melting down old jewellery and re-working it results in a different value. Generally, its monetary value goes down as the gold in the new piece is unrefined. Its sentimental or emotional value often multiplies as something old can again become part of day-to-day life.
You don’t have to melt it completely. A piece of jewellery can be rejuvenated or updated without totally melting and re-casting it. You can cut it, melt it partially or adjust the style. A ring can become part of a bracelet. Upcycling is a vast field and each piece has its own potential.
It’s a risk. We can never know everything about a piece of vintage jewellery or how it will respond to the recycling process. There is always a chance we’ll need to adjust the design we’ve envisioned. And sometimes we discover an aspect of the material that is even more stunning than we expected.
Things change. Recycling or transforming jewellery requires an ability to let go of how something has “always” been so it can become something new. “People bring in treasures and I’m absolutely in awe of how they can embrace the natural evolution of things, the fact that everything changes,” said Lauren.
This bravery brings its own reward in jewellery that authentically embodies both sentiment and style. One client explained that putting on the transformed piece of jewellery for the first time was unexpectedly powerful.
“It was the knowledge that these treasures weren’t lost,” she said. “They become more than a piece of gold.”