What is Eco Silver?
Eco & Recycled Siler
There’s no sugar coating the fact that the mining industry is one of the most destructive. Mining precious metals has a massive impact on the earth and to the miners. Many of them (often young children) use toxic chemicals, with very little safety precautions, to extract metals from the ground. I wrote a lot about this for my dissertation but have to admit, I buried my head in the sand a bit after I graduated. I set up Kirsten Manzi Jewellery with the intention of taking into consideration the social and environmental impact of my business. Working with Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) silver (or eco silver) is one of many steps I’m taking to make my Kirsten Manzi Jewellery more sustainable.
Eco Silver is another term for Recycled Silver. This means that eco or recycled silver is not mined from the ground. Instead, it is produced using unwanted jewellery, scrap silver, electronics, medical and equipment.
The Silver industry has always recycled, melting silver down to be reused again. Before silver is recycled, it is collected and sorted from other metals. Then it is melted down in a large furnace and purified through a refining process to ensure the final product is of high quality and uncontaminated. Refined recycled silver is just as pure as mined silver. Once the silver is cooled and solidified, it is formed into shapes such as bars, wire and sheet ready to be made into new products.
Almost all of my pieces start off as a piece of silver wire and all silver Kirsten Manzi Jewellery is made using 100% Recycled Silver, sourced from a UK based manufacturer who states that their recycled silver is “produced in a fully traceable, audited and certified process”. There is no new metal added to 100% post-consumer recycled metal, so no first hand mining has taken place. Although I have yet to find a supplier of 100% recycled silver findings, I have found one for 100% Recycled Chain, I am using up my current stock with the intention of switching to 100% Recycled Silver in the future. (product descriptions will state if findings are new or recycled) Recycled Silver looks no different to mined sterling silver. It has the same great properties and can still be hallmarked as sterling (925).
In an ideal world, jewellers would be able to purchase fair trade and fair-minded silver that would benefit artisanal miners and their environment. However fair trade silver remains elusive, so 100% recycled is the best step forward for the time being as it reduces the need for new silver to be mined and therefore reduced the impact on our environment. This means your silver jewellery doesn’t have to cost the earth.