The Difference Between Recycled and Fairtrade Gold

The Difference Between Recycled and Fairtrade Gold

Having sustainably sourced gold is crucially important for us here at Ethica Diamonds, with the impact on people and our planet being at the core of everything we do. Similarly to the diamond mining industry, gold mining causes huge damage to our environment and the people surrounding it. It pollutes water and land with toxic chemicals, puts its workers in danger, destroys environments and contributes to deforestation. There's not much it doesn't damage - which is why we offer two alternatives to traditionally mined gold, Fairtrade and Recycled.

But you might be wondering, what is the difference between Recycled and Fairtrade gold and which should I choose for my ethical jewellery?

To help make the decision easier for you we have made this handy blog post to guide you through the differences and help you make the most informed decision. The quality and end product of both Fairtrade and Recycled Gold is exactly the same (gold is gold at the end of the day!) so it is just a question of which aligns best with your views.

Recycled or Fairtrade Gold Graphic


Fairtrade Certified Gold was the world's first independent ethical certification system for gold. The gold comes from small-scale mining organisations that are mindful of taking care of their workers and committed to minimise harmful impacts of destruction on the planet. According to Fairtrade International ''Fairtrade Gold is sourced exclusively from certified mines working to the highest standards of protection for both people and the environment. Their gold is physically traced all the way to a finished piece of jewellery.''

Although still mined, Fairtrade gold ensures that the workers receive a Fairtrade living wage and also grants them a premium that they can invest in their own businesses and communities. It ensures that the workers have good working conditions, health and safety regulations, safety when handling chemicals, women’s rights, no child labour and protection of the environment. Therefore making Fairtrade Gold a much kinder alternative to regular large-scale mining organisations and actively helping the mine workers. A positive of Fairtrade gold is that its origin is fully traceable, unlike recycled gold.

Selected Ethica pieces are available in Fairtrade Gold, please get in touch for more information.

Fair Trade Gold Rings

Fair Trade Gold Rings


Then we have Recycled Gold, which is exactly as it sounds - repurposed gold that is melted down into grains and remade into new jewellery. Gold is virtually indestructible and so it makes perfect sense to recycle it, jewellers have been doing it for years. The gold comes from a variety of sources including old jewellery, dental work and computer parts. There is some controversy surrounding recycled gold as the supply chain is impossible to trace, meaning the gold may have contributed to the destruction and pollution of large scale mining, and perhaps even be 'dirty gold' . However, if you buy recycled gold you are activley reducing the demand for more gold mining, which is always a good thing in our books!

All our pieces can be set in part recycled precious metals and selected pieces are available in fully recycled. We are currently working towards all our pieces being fully recycled, please enquire for more information.

Making jewellery using recycled grains of gold

Making jewellery using recycled grains of gold

Which one should you choose?

When choosing between Fairtrade and Recycled gold its important to remember that both products are exactly the same - there is no difference in quality. It simply comes down to which one is available and personal preference. Fairtrade Gold is still mined but is fully traceable, and the workers are supported. Recycled gold isn't contributing to more gold mining, but it's origin isn't fully traceable. Either choice is a kind one, and is much more ethical than gold mined from large scale mining industries.

Which one would you go for?

Learn more about our precious metal options:

Engagement Ring Buying Guide
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