Why we chose to use Recycled gold and not Fairtrade

Maqé jewelry is all about purity, nature… realness. It’s inspired by the beauty of the world in which we live, and of the people living in it. Yet, we are well aware that the jewelry industry is, sadly, known to be one of the world’s tarnished.


Our mission at Maqé is therefore not only to create beautiful jewelry, but to make ethical, sustainable jewelry – honoring the very world from which it has been inspired – and using 100% recycled metal in our designs is one of the core decisions we’ve made in order to support this mission.


So, why recycled gold?

Well, we’ll be very honest here; we are still trudging through the muddy waters of gem and gold mining, trying to find the very best ways to become a truly sustainable and ethical jeweler, which means our practices are likely to change as we learn and discover new or better ways to deliver on our mission. But for now, using solely recycled gold feels the best solution to us, and here’s why…


Gold mining is well known to be an industry full of unethical practices, from the environmental damage to poor working conditions. It’s believed that for every ounce of gold – that’s just one gold ring – up to 20 tons of waste is being generated with mercury and cyanide being the two main pollutants used in the process.


It’s said that there are approximately 190,000 tons of gold already in circulation, so it’s fair to say there’s plenty of gold that has already been mined which can be reused. And, just 3% of the gold already lying around would satisfy the world’s current annual needs, so there really is plenty.


One of the beauties of gold is that it can be recycled again and again without losing any of its quality. So gold that’s been refined and recycled multiple times is actually just as good as gold mined only yesterday.


Recycled gold is therefore, to us, the best solution, as we know that we’re using gold that hasn’t contributed any additional damage to the environment, whilst also not losing any of its quality. We understand that this isn’t a 100% perfect solution, as a lot of the gold in the world isn’t actually available for recycling! This is largely due to the ‘significance’ that society has placed on gold over the years, meaning a lot of it is kept within families. This means the gold currently being recycled is only able to satisfy around 30% of the world’s demand, which explains the continued ‘need’ for newly sourced gold.


Something else to consider with recycled gold is ensuring its legitimacy. The Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC) was formed back in 2005 to regulate the industry and certify suppliers based on practices. However, the quality of their certification system is in debate due to many ‘gaps’ and ‘loopholes’ making the endorsement worth less than one would hope.

Why not Fairtrade Gold?

Fairtrade gold is another option gaining more prominence in the industry. Fairtrade, gold is still mined new, but the standards and practices ensure ethical working and mining conditions, whilst also eliminating any illegal or ‘dirty’ practices embroiled in the current industry. It also benefits the lives of small-scale mining communities who rely on this industry for their livelihoods – something that recycled gold is not able to support. However, Fairtrade gold still involves new mining, and whilst the use of chemicals in the process has far improved, they are still used, meaning the environmental impacts are still significant.


So it’s for this reason that, for now, we are sticking with 100% of our gold being recycled. Although, as we said… we know we’ll be constantly evolving to ensure we’re always adopting what we believe to be the very best, truly sustainable jewelry practices.


We want to continue sharing our journey openly and honestly, through our blog and newsletter, so please subscribe here [insert hyperlink] if you’d like to hear more from us and of course to be the first to peek at our new collections!


For those of you in (or near!) Ibiza this month, we’ll be showcasing our pieces at a special private event on the 18-19 October. Please contact us if you want to know more about the event – we’d love to see you there!

Our personal story

The short version…

Inspired by travel, when living in Bali I was inspired by all the incredible handcrafted artifacts I was surrounded by everyday. It would only be years later that I would run into Karjan on Ibiza.

After several drinks we soon discovered we had the same passion for creating something new, something close to our hearts. The idea of MAQÉ was born yet we had no idea of the adventure and learning curve lying ahead of us.

We now are proud to be able to say that we have found more than one reliable ethical gemstone supplier and a fantastic contact who helps us with the production of our ethical jewelry line. But above all, we could not have managed without our dear friends, contacts and network to bring this idea to life.

Grateful for all the experiences up till now but even more excited of what is still to come…


Imperfection is beautiful

Just a quick read about why we select stones mostly with inclusions.

Traditionally in the gemstone business stones with inclusions are considered flawed. The miners get a premium price only for the highest quality of gemstones mined. This means buyers are usually only interested in a minimal part of their findings leaving artisan miners with a great deal of ‘stock’ which they have to find a buyer for or for which they get a fraction of the price.

By buying and seeing the beauty made by Mother Earth in these so called imperfections (in these gemstones) the miners get an increased demand for the stones they could traditionally not sell easily. To help them better better wages, prices for their findings we do want exactly these stones.

Inclusions are incredible to look at, the actually make a stone look real and alive. It is a pieces of history stored within them. They are the traces of their provenance! Gemstones are mostly found attached to another piece of stone, this is called the mother stone. To us, inclusions are the proof that the stone is real, it is intriguing and we see it as something that makes a piece unique.

We know this might seem like a minor contribution to changing this part of the industry but we believe staying true to our intention to make ethical jewelry, will make that small difference needed to push the industry to a more ethical and transparent level.


Mining footprint

Mining has always been quite a dirty business, not only the working conditions, corruption and the compensation but also the environmental footprint it has left behind in most countries where gemstones are found.

There are different kinds of mining, most people think of coal mines when they think of mining. But many stones are found just beneath the surface or in a superficial ‘nerve’ crossing the land. Especially the first kinds leaves behind a mine field full of potholes making the land unsuitable for agricultural use as seen in the picture below.


Our mission is to create ethical jewelry by only using stones which have a minimal environmental impact. This is a bottle neck as most stones are mined in third world countries where the environment is the least of their worries. International NGO’s have been trying to educate artisanal miners but as you can imagine this is only in its initial stage and still has a long way to go.
Basically it is complicated. We want to give back by buying ethical stones from preferably countries where they need the income to most but on the other hand these countries usually have the least regulations. Our goal is to give back in several ways one of them being by contributing to certain local initiatives which restore the land. As you can imagine this is also not a top priority when for example eduction is also lagging behind but it is doable.
We believe we can make a difference regarding the mining either by buying ethically mined stones or by contributing to the restoration of land. Baby steps but to us this is the only way to go.