When we began Earthwise Jewelry® in 1999, the concept of using 100% recycled precious metal was relatively new. We turned to recycled metal because we couldn’t find a gold mine that met our strict sourcing standards (for example, mining in a manner that protects ground water from pollutants, including silt, debris, trash, and all chemical and biological contaminates). So we began working with a micro-refiner to create our own system of vertical integration for all the gold and platinum we use. We maintain a traceable chain of custody, from the refining of the recycled precious metals to our own practices in our Chicago workshop.
At Leber Jeweler Inc. our recycled gold and platinum is most commonly sourced from old jewelry, although used electronics, catalytic converters and even some industrial byproducts contain recoverable precious metals.
These metals go through a refining process that separates them from their accompanying alloys, reducing them down to pure gold and platinum. The processing is done in the United States, meeting and exceeding all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as state and local regulatory standards. The pure gold and platinum is then ready to turn into finished jewelry. It has the same properties as newly mined ore, but without the negative environmental consequences.
The devastating environmental effects of mining are just one of the problems we avoid by using 100% recycled precious metal. Most refining is done overseas in countries without an EPA to provide oversight or OSHA to protect the health of the workers involved in the process.