Good as gold: how 886 by The Royal Mint is making sustainable heirlooms for a new generation
It’s difficult to picture the reality of the fact that 7 per cent of the world’s gold is sitting inside discarded electronic devices.
As The Royal Mint translates its coin-making expertise into the realm of jewellery, its ambitious new 886 by The Royal Mint collection is pioneering the use of gold that is recovered from electronic waste. Here is how it’s done – and how the innovative technology could affect the use precious metals across industries.
While the name 886 harks back to the time when The Royal Mint (TRM) was founded, the new contemporary jewellery collection is looking as much to the future as to the past. Minimalist in style, the genderless line-up of elevated everyday pieces is bold in its aesthetic purity and also in its mission to make the use of precious metals sustainable. Breaking ground as the first luxury jewellery brand to use gold from electronic waste, 886 by The Royal Mint is setting the standard for the wider industry – and giving other users of precious metals the means to follow its lead.
It’s difficult to picture the reality of the fact that 7 per cent of the world’s gold is sitting inside discarded electronic devices. And at least $10bn (£7.9bn) worth of gold and other precious metals ends up in landfill every year due to the inadequacy of means for recycling electronic waste, according to a recent report commissioned by the UN. The report highlights an urgent need to improve recycling of electronic waste and to reduce the mining of new metal, which has an impact on ecosystems around the world.
Looking for a solution, TRM discovered Excir, a Canadian clean technology start-up that has created a chemical process to extract 99 per cent of the useable precious metals from circuit boards in electronic waste. TRM has now invested in scaling up this patented method at a substantial plant in Wales, in the UK that’s set to provide precious metals for TRM’s own use with the aim to supply other makers in the future. Initially focusing on gold, up to 90 tonnes of electronic waste will be processed per week by 2023 and further metals will be extracted as production capacity increases.
There is an ironic beauty to this arrangement: 886 by The Royal Mint is making heirloom jewellery with lasting value incorporating gold recovered from one of our least sustainable purchases – mobile phones and laptops with inherent obsolescence. The 886 by The Royal Mint earring studs, pendants and hero cuffs designs are objects of desire in their own right but knowing about the circularity behind their manufacture brings a pleasing burst of resonance to the experience of wearing them.