Journal / Courbet Revolution / Gold in all its states
JANUARY 22, 2021

Gold in all its states

Visionary when it comes to its high tech and sustainable sourcing, Courbet naturally chose recycled gold to create its jewellery collections, alongside lab grown diamonds. With this choice, the brand stays true to its ecological commitment by forgoing the impactful gold extraction in favor of urban mining.

Gold is incontestably a noble material, but its origin ? Not so much. Gold extraction is a pollutive process, which requires important quantities of water. Mining areas are deteriorated, deforested and polluted by the chemical substances - literal poisons - used to separate the gold from the stone. According to a study published in the Journal of cleaner production, a simple gold ring costs a lot to our planet : 7800 liters of used water and no less than 54kg of CO2 rejected into the atmosphere… Recently, ethical issues surrounding gold mining have been targeted with the creation of labels such as Fairtrade and Fairmined. Yet, the reach of these labels is still limited and does not address the environmental damages of gold extraction. A ground on which Courbet was not willing to make any compromise, and so the brand kept looking for a better alternative.

Gold possesses an amazing quality : it can be melted times and times again without ever losing its properties, making it infinitely recyclable. A true asset, especially since the quantity of gold already extracted from the ground is higher than the amount left in mines today. Recycled gold was thus the obvious answer for Courbet. The possibility to use already available resources, rather than digging deeper and deeper, while still preserving the excellence of the precious material.

But Courbet is not one for conventions. Part of the gold used in its collections is “traditionally” recycled from pieces of jewellery, but the majority comes from another source, less known yet full of promises. Indeed, gold can also be found in obsolete computer and industrial hardware, forming what we refer to as “urban gold mines”. Up to 1 kg of gold can be found in a single ton of electronic waste, whereas in a very productive mine, the ore grade rarely exceeds 5 g of gold per tonne of extracted ore.

Innovant and bold for a jeweller, this sourcing embeds technology even deeper into the brand’s DNA. Courbet surrounded itself with industrial recycling specialists, always on the look for improvement, with the ambition to source its gold exclusively from urban mines by 2025.

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