Upcycling trend: these brands create jewelry from used smartphones and computers

Upcycling trend: these brands create jewelry from used smartphones and computers

Most of our electronic devices end up in the landfill, jewelry designers have discovered that there is a real gold

mine.

It’s no secret that gold mining is bad for the planet and its inhabitants. Not only does the gold industry use toxic

chemicals (mercury and cyanide), but it often imposes unsustainable conditions on its workers and displaces local

populations in order to exploit their resources.  View more “When I wear beautiful jewelry, I feel strong and beautiful!” Hailey Bieber talks about her vision of

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By Emeline Blanc

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Faced with this observation, both social and environmental, many jewelry brands are looking for alternatives

and have resorted to recycled gold extracted from electronic waste. The smartphones, tablets and computers

that end up in the garbage dump every day are full of circuits set with precious metals: our trash cans

are a gold mine, literally and figuratively.

Figures speak for themselves

“It’s very simple,” explains Eliza Walter, founder of the Lylie brand, “the numbers are as follows: if

you take a ton of soil, you can extract about 9 grams of gold. If you do the same thing with a ton of

e-waste, you’d get 300 grams of gold.”

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Eliza Walter founded her eco-responsible brand in 2022. She recounts its genesis: “I remembered a school

trip I took as a teenager. I was 16 years old, studying design and got to visit a foundry,” she says.

“An amazing guy named Peter introduced us to his business and said, ‘The future of gold mining is not

in the ground, but in our landfills.’ That idea stuck with me.” 

The real problem

Today, for Eliza Walter, the use of e-waste is a given. “In the past, I used to notice how quickly we

threw away our electronics and wonder what happened to them. Now I’m well informed,” she says. “A lot

of electronic waste is actually being sent to the west coast of the African continent. We really are producing

and throwing away way too much… It’s a real problem.”

“So our goal at Royal Mint is to produce jewelry from the waste that’s produced on our home turf, in this

case, the United Kingdom.” – Sean Millard

Today, an estimated 7 percent of the world’s gold is located not in rock, but in used electronics. “That’s

huge! That we’re still mining it out of the ground is beyond me,” argues Sean Millard, managing director

of development at The Royal Mint, which just unveiled its first jewelry collection from e-waste. “Some

50 million tons of e-waste are generated each year around the world. So our goal at The Royal Mint is

to produce jewelry from the waste that is produced on our home turf, in this case, the UK.”

Most of our electronic devices end up in the landfill

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