Fast-forward almost two decades and the ethical jewellery industry has come a long way. Today, definitions of ‘ethical jewellery’ are nuanced and multi-faceted, no longer centred exclusively on traceability and single-source origins, but often on the increasingly pressing matter of environmental sustainability, too. As we teeter on the precipice of a climate emergency, it’s now crucial that we slam the breaks on our consumption of the planet’s natural resources. Research has revealed that the spread of COVID-19 and our time spent in lockdown has harnessed this awareness, with attention to global health and safety concerns significantly heightened in light of the pandemic.
A 2022 De Beers report revealed that 84% of consumers within a study reported that they had opted to pay more for jewellery that’s environmentally and socially responsible, whilst 58% of all global consumers would now only purchase a diamond that’s been obtained in an environmentally responsible way. With environmental sustainability higher on the priority list of engagement ring shoppers than ever before, it’s perhaps no surprise that recycled diamonds and recycled gold reigned supreme as the most popular gemstone and metal choices amongst our engagement ring clients in 2022.
Of course, the option to purchase a second-hand engagement ring is nothing new, posing as an easy way to pop the question without breaking the bank or leaving too gargantuan a carbon footprint in your wake. Understandably, however, many couples – although environmentally conscious – remain drawn to the allure of a brand new engagement ring that exists just for them. For some, a new piece of jewellery is a blank canvas; a promising symbol of a fresh chapter. What’s great for these people is that recycled materials are becoming increasingly accessible, now affording us the opportunity to strike a happy balance in commissioning unique, made-to-order jewels without compromising on sustainable values.
It’s important to mention that we’ll never stop supporting artisanal and small-scale miners, whose livelihoods are legitimate. But, with a two-pronged approach to ethical jewellery, we’re also advocates of the Circular Economy model - wherein a product is reintroduced to the supply chain once its user is finished with it. As such, we’re thrilled to see recycled materials gain the appreciation they deserve as the interesting, romantic and environmentally sustainable alternative that they are.
An estimated 6,000lbs of mineral waste is created and 250 tonnes of earth shifted for every carat of natural diamond. For context, 148 million carats were mined in 2018; that's 37,000,000,000 tonnes of displaced earth in one year. What’s more, in repeatedly drilling holes into the ground and extracting diamonds from them, we are consuming a finite resource; with a recent analysis by Bain finding that that a number of diamond mines will be fully depleted by 2030. And so, alongside our traceable newly mined diamonds of artisanal or Canadian origin, we have been offering recycled old-cut diamonds for a long time. By the nature of vintage, reclaimed diamonds can't be traced to their original source. We understand that this lack of transparency doesn't sit comfortably with everyone, but the beauty of recycling diamonds is in offering a beautiful unearthed gem a second lease of life instead.
The 'old cut' is an antique cut characterised by facets that are chunkier and more organic than the precise, machine-cut facets of the modern brilliant-cut. Cut by hand, old-cut diamonds were designed to twinkle best under candlelight, boasting a depth of sparkle that's unmatched by the surface sparkle of modern diamonds as they draw the eye inward. Old-cut stones are intriguing little chunks of history; unrepeatable, bursting with character and vital with stories of a long life well lived.
More recently, we have introduced a new stock of recycled sapphires to our offering. An exciting assortment of shapes, sizes, colours and stories, these gemstones were either carefully removed from pre-owned jewellery for a second lease of life, sourced at auction or bought directly from jewellers and individuals who no longer needed them. For those who don’t wish to take the traditional diamond route but still dream of creating a unique engagement ring using exclusively recycled materials, this is an opportunity to fulfil your colourful vision.
It’s simple: Recycling existing metal avoids the need to produce virgin metal. In turn, minimising mining activity preserves landscapes, natural habitats and precious natural resources like coal and iron ore, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and pollution, and curtails the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
Alongside our newly mined Fairtrade Gold and Fairmined Ecological Gold, whose purpose is enabling us to support artisanal and small-scale mining communities, recycled gold and platinum are default options that we have offered to our clients from the very beginning. Last year, 89% of all Lebrusan Studio engagement rings were cast in recycled metal!
We use 100% recycled gold in all of our recycled gold jewels, whilst recycled platinum is the only type of platinum we use. We can successfully recycle platinum up to 100% recycled purity, though sometimes traceability obstacles make it tricky to guarantee this degree of clarity. More transparency and standardised paperwork between metal refiners and manufacturers like us is something that we’re pushing hard for this year so that one day we are in a position to trace even our recycled metals back to their previous sources. For now, our recycled platinum never contains less than 90% pure recycled platinum. If you'd like to learn more about our recycled metals and the processes by which they come about, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Heirloom jewels are little mementos of what matters most, but sometimes they need a helping hand to become aesthetically and structurally equipped for day-to-day wear. Instead of letting these precious relics fester away in a dusty jewellery box, you could make use of our bespoke remodelling service and create something brand new from their components.
If you have an old diamond that's lost its sparkle, for example, don't assume that this is the end of its road; a simple refurbish can help to restore its shine. When Andy came to us with a spectacular 2.5ct old-cut diamond inherited from his grandmother, we knew exactly how to do it justice. With expert hands and a thorough polish, we removed years of residue and scratches. Then, we secured the stone in a new yet timeless recycled platinum four-claw setting to champion its deep, characterful sparkle. In the most romantic gesture imaginable, Andy proposed to the love of his life with this family treasure, glistening with decades of love and happy memories.
When Lenny decided it was time to pop the question, his mission was underpinned by approached by a jaw-dropping 1920s cocktail ring he'd inherited from his grandmother. De-setting the impressive 2.43ct octagon-cut emerald and salvaging six undamaged marquise diamonds from the original piece, our master craftsman Theo rehomed the stones in a spectacular new Art Deco-inspired design, the band and setting crafted from 18ct recycled rose gold. This sustainable jewel is the epitome of an heirloom piece; highly-crafted, rich in sentimental value and guaranteed to be cherished by generations to come.
We’re also pleased to recycle your own gold or platinum jewellery, either setting it aside to introduce directly into the metal alloy of your new engagement ring or selling it off to the industry as scrap metal and deducting this earning from the price of your order.
And there we have it: Our guide to creating a new and 100% unique designer engagement ring without the need for any new materials. Get in touch today to ask some questions or book your initial consultation with us inLondon orBrighton.