As the detrimental effects of fast fashion have become prevalent and more people are becoming conscious about recycling, and many companies in this industry are adapting to change.
Here at Merchants Of The Sun we only use recycled silver - as opposed to mining for new resources - because we understand how important it is not to take from Earth what we can’t afford to give back.
As we explained here, we decided early on to adopt a cradle-to-cradle process for our jewellery. Our attraction to sterling silver stems from its history as a long-time aid to tell stories, to symbolise sentiment, and to style self-expression. We wanted to push the boundaries of design whilst also encouraging ethical consumerism.
And what better way to carry that message through unique recycled jewellery that can live another day, tell another story, and truly mean something to someone.
Sustainability wears many faces, so how do you know the process is truly mindful? How can you trust you’ll receive the tactile, long-lasting results of a product as time-honored as sterling silver?
These are the little-known facts about recycled sterling silver, that should help you consider why you should choose this ethical material as your drip of choice.
1. Small-scale, old-school
We’re so used to (on autopilot) recycling paper and bottles, and we’re pushing to have the same mentality attached to silver. #merchantsgoals
There’s small-scale silver recycling, and then there’s large-scale. Small-scale recycling involves the slow process of artisan silversmiths retrieving precious silver from damaged or broken jewellery or redundant accessories by hand. Tedious, but worth it.
We actually further implement this process by melting down previous capsules, faulty pieces, and stock that isn’t moving—ensuring there is literally no waste going into landfill—and recycling our pieces into new collections.
Our silversmiths work with time-tested old-fashion methods, which produce small amounts of recycled and re-refined silver for further creation, extracting exactly what we need to continue the cycle.
What’s that line about trash and treasure?
Hence our motto; make few, design well.
2. The endless cycle.
The second process of recycling is on a lot larger scale, at an industrial level.
This is how we source all our silver used in new capsules (when we run out of our own recycled metals). This method ensures that we are not supporting silver mining and adhering to our ‘cradle-to-cradle methodology.
We use commercial suppliers in Indonesia and Australia to assist us with sourcing these larger amounts of recycled metals.
This method involves extracting high-purity silver from products used in large-scale industrial production. By applying heat and electric currents in conjunction with nitric/sulfuric acid, our suppliers are able to separate the metals.
You might be surprised to know that recycled silver comes from a multitude of things - not just made from old jewellery. Recycled silver can come from medical supplies, kitchenware and electronics, such as old laptops and iPhones. To put it into perspective, according to the BBC a typical iPhone is estimated to house around 0.034g of gold, 0.34g of silver. Crazy right?
3. What’s this about the 925?
We’re glad you asked. What generally stops customers from purchasing recycled products is this idea of diminished quality. This is why we (literally) hammer home the 925 stamps on each and every one of our pieces.
No purity is lost in the process of extracting sterling silver from used sterling silver items. The clod of silver produced at the end of the process is still pure silver.
925 actually means that for every 1000 parts of the material in the jewellery piece, 925 parts (92.5%) must be made of silver and no more than 75 parts (7.5%) should be a different metal. It’s the sterling standard, and when you see 925 on recycled sterling; you know it officially makes the grade.
We can assure you, our pieces keep up with the best.
4. Recycled silver goes green (not how you’re thinking)
And it goes green, hard.
When it comes to the manufacturing of recycled metals, sustainable processes make a huge difference in reducing the amount of energy and carbon emissions released.
As well as cutting harmful emissions that cause global warming by anywhere from 300 to 500 million tons. That’s a heck of a lot.
Luckily, recycling sterling silver is no different. The process of silver recycling is dramatically less damaging in terms of CO2 emissions and pollution as well as expending far less energy. It’s a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, on the mining front; by opting for our ring's over that non-recycled piece from another mass producer, you’re actually doing your bit for the Amazon rainforest - and everywhere else metals are mined.
Recycling metal reduces mining waste by a whopping 97%.
Waste minerals and rocks from the mining process can become toxic to pretty much everything on earth through acid drainage, which additionally seeps into the air and our water.
So, if you’re enjoying trees where they grow, want intricate plant and animal ecosystems to continue to thrive, and to keep swimming in non-toxic water; your simple act of choosing recycled sterling silver has more winning pay-offs than you might think.