Pandora’s new jewelry collection uses recycled gold and silver, and la

The diamonds, silver and gold in a new jewelry collection from Pandora, the world’s largest jewelry maker, are physically identical to mine stones and metals. But the diamonds were grown in a renewable energy lab, and all the gold and silver is recycled.

The shift is part of the company’s goal to become a low-carbon business. “When we look at our company’s CO2 emissions, the vast majority within our own four walls are linked to manufacturing,” said Alexander Lacik, CEO of the Copenhagen-based company. “So then we said, okay, let’s look at the production.”

[Image: Pandora]

For example, the company buys hundreds of tons of silver each year, and the team knew that using recycled silver has only a fraction of the environmental impact of newly mined silver. It already purchased recycled metals within its own production facility. But about 30% of the components come from other suppliers. In 2020, the company pledged to switch to recycled silver and gold for all of its jewelry, including parts collected externally, by 2025. The new collection, with 33 items, is the company’s first to use 100% recycled metals.

The transition “isn’t that easy,” Lacik says, “because you have to touch the whole value chain.” Silver refiners need to invest in new equipment and be confident that the investment is worth it. Pandora requires certification that the silver is actually recycled. Parts suppliers must adapt their own processes to handle recycled material. And the supply of recycled silver must increase. (Gold is recycled more because it is more valuable.) Right now, most of the silver recycled comes from manufacturing, including chemical manufacturing and electronics, but much more could come from harvesting parts from old gadgets. Currently, billions of dollars of precious metals are thrown away every year in telephones, computers and other electronic waste.

[Image: Pandora]

Pandora wants to send a signal that there is a demand for recycled silver and gold, even though the materials are currently more expensive than their mined counterparts. “We’re trying to make it a big deal so more people follow this path,” Lacik says. That includes other jewelry makers as well as other major users of precious metals, including electronics brands.

The company also wants to help push the industry toward lab-grown diamonds (Pandora announced in 2021 that it would stop using mined diamonds and switch to lab-grown diamonds only). If a diamond is grown, cut and polished with renewable energy, its carbon footprint is 95% smaller than that of mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds can avoid other ethical challenges in mining, including child labor. And since diamonds are pure carbon, the end product is identical.

[Image: Pandora]

“The end result is exactly the same, but the road to get there is different,” says Lacik. “The path for a mined diamond is 2 million years under pressure and heat, and the path for a lab-made diamond is a few weeks.” In a machine, “you blast the speck of diamond with carbon atoms, and eventually they bond together and create a rock,” he says. The rock is then cut and polished in the same way a mined rock would be.

If the entire diamond industry were to stop mining, Pandora calculated that society would avoid 6 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, or about the equivalent of converting every car in New York City into an electric vehicle. Of course, the industry isn’t likely to change anytime soon – the powerful marketing narrative linking diamonds to the concept of eternal love means there’s still a demand for “real” stones. Pandora doesn’t target the engagement and anniversary market so much as those of women who want to buy themselves diamond jewelry at a lower price.

“Am I going to convert the entire diamond market? I wish I could, but that’s not realistic,” says Lacik. “But because we are who we are, we can at least bring up the subject. We can lead the way for the industry.”

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