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Fair Gold- how does it work?

When you start developing an interest in weddings bands, engagement rings or generally gold jewelry, you come upon terms such as “fair gold”, “FairTrade gold”, “recycled gold” or even “green gold”. What do these terms mean and what’s the difference?

We at Studio Elisabeth Habig produce our wedding bands & engagement rings, jewelry collections and eccentric single pieces from recycled noble metals, that we purchase from the Austrian precious metals separating works (ÖGUSSA). This company is committed to using only recycled or fairly mined gold and is a member of the Responsible Jewelry Council; an organization that is focused on the conflict free production of precious metals.

In our studio we solely use recycled gold or old gold, which is brought to us by customers. We melt this old gold ourselves, as we find this to be the most sustainable way to treat our planet and its scarce resources of gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

Since the antique, the process of gold mining has been a dangerous and hard labor. In a thousand tons of rocks only a few grams of pure gold can be found and the excavation involves many poisonous chemicals. This often leads to damage to the environment and health problems of the workers, who are exposed to toxic substances, often without sufficient protective equipment or qualification.

  • Fair gold is the global term for gold that was gained through fair and sustainable conditions. Its origin might be from a monitored mine that is obliged to strict environmental protection and fair working conditions. With recycled gold, there is also no harm done to the environment nor has a worker been exploited.

  • Recycled gold is the gold extracted from mobile phones, old pieces of jewelry and objects containing this precious metal. The cleaning and reprocessing treatment is a technically complex procedure. This way old electronic devices or gold jewelry that has come out of style can be transformed into clean, fair gold again. The advantage of this is that gold can be reprocessed over and over again without losing its quality. Also, with recycling raw materials, gold doesn’t have to be shipped across the globe, but can be processed here in Austria and Europe. The recycled gold that is traded in Austria is reprocessed in local precious metals separating works under strict environmental regulations and safe working conditions before being delivered to goldsmiths and artists.

  • FairTrade gold is the gold that bears the sigil of the international FairTrade organization. This logo can also be found on FairTrade coffee, cocoa and many other products. This concerns gold that is extracted in mines, where the producers need to meet the conditions of the FairTrade Organisation. In order for their products to bear the protected certificate of FairTrade, they have to ensure environment protection, fair wages and safety standards. “Green Gold” undergoes a similar procedure. The certificate of a swiss refinery also ensures that the producers adhere to social, ecological and health standards.

We at Elisabeth Habig consciously decided to work with recycled metals. By renouncing from freshly mined gold we can avoid encroachment on nature as well as long transportation routes. We gladly accept your old jewelry in order to create new favourite pieces out of them. For more information read my article on jewelry from old gold.


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