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Is Silver Sustainable?

Published date: 10 February 2023

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Is Silver Sustainable?

It’s no secret that, when it comes to sustainability, the jewellery industry has some work-on points. Here, we take a look into the silver industry at large, including some of the issues being faced and how the industry might become more sustainable long-term. 

What is sterling silver?

While ‘silver’ and ‘sterling silver’ are often used interchangeably, they are not the same - with different purities, uses and financial values. Silver is 99.9% pure, while sterling silver is 92.5% pure and is mixed or alloyed with harder metals - such as copper - in order to add strength.

Is sterling silver sustainable?

Historically, the actions of some mining companies have come at cost to the environment, creating issues such as erosion, toxins, and a loss of biodiversity. Now, as industries and governments around the world look for ways to reduce carbon output and environmental impact, more sustainable mining practices have come into play.

The use of low-impact mining techniques (such as in-situ leaching) and eco-friendly equipment (such as electric machinery) is on the rise, and mining waste across almost every category is being reused. What’s more, many former mined landscapes are now being rehabilitated (The Eden Project is a well-known example of this), and operations to prevent and shut down illegal mining are becoming more widespread.

How can the industry become more sustainable?

Alongside steps to improve mining sustainability, there are several other ways to improve sustainability within the jewellery industry.

Recycling silver
Silver is non-ferrous, meaning it does not lose any purity in the recycling process. As a result, recycled silver is of the same quality as newly mined silver - but more sustainable. In fact, Niton UK states that carbon emissions from sourcing recycled silver are a third of those of mined silver. There’s no limit to the amount of times silver can be recycled, allowing it to live countless lives across generations, thus reducing the demand for silver mining. 

Championing sustainable silver jewellery
Combining recycled and sustainably mined silver, eco silver is an ethical alternative to newly mined silver. It is made from old jewellery, medical equipment, electronics, giftware and more, and is melted down and reformed into workable wire, sheet, grain and solder.

From sustainable silver earrings and necklaces to beads, charms and sustainable silver rings, our range of eco silver jewellery is produced by Chimet using a sustainable and ecological bullion source, resulting in a mix of 95% recycled and 5% ethically sourced silver. While there’s currently no external certification available in the country of origin regarding the composition of the material, Chimet is a certified member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (member number: 0000 3591) and is audited as such. It is also certified by LBMA under The London Good Delivery List of Acceptable Refiners as a responsible source.

Many bullion providers are now able to supply ethically sourced silver, and manufacturers are using an array of sources that conform to ethical standards. 

Buying conscientiously

Where society chooses to spend money holds great power, and the impact of purchasing decisions shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Burhouse is committed to conducting business in an ethical way and reassuring customers that they’re making conscientious buying decisions. Over many years of business, we’ve developed close working relationships with our suppliers and manufacturers, which conform to the requirements and laws of their own governments. We have visited many of our suppliers at their factories, have long-held relationships and friendships with many of them and - from our own enquiries - can vouch for their ethical commitments. Read our full ethical statement.

We offer a range of wholesale jewellery, including sterling silver bracelets and necklaces.

While there’s still a way to go in ensuring the sustainability of silver, steps are being taken in the right direction. With more jewellers turning to recycled materials, creating sustainable silver jewellery and considering ethical buying decisions, the future of silver looks bright. 


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