What Are Recycled Diamonds?

What Are Recycled Diamonds?

What are recycled diamonds? 

Recycled diamonds are diamonds that have already been used in a piece of jewelry, are taken out, and reset into a new piece of jewelry. In other words ‘recycled diamonds” are not taken directly from the mine and put into a piece of jewelry. Sometimes one single diamond can be “recycled” several times over. After all, nobody knowingly throws out a diamond!

Where do recycled diamonds come from? 

Oftentimes jewelry brands -- including Starling! -- say their diamonds are “recycled,” but where are they recycled from? In the jewelry industry “recycled” just means the diamonds have been used before. What we don’t know is for how long and for what. At Starling we learned the hard way that all “recycled” diamonds are not equal. Recycled diamonds can come from unsold new jewelry taken apart, from customers selling back old jewelry, from pawn shops, estate sales, auctions and family heirlooms. But should diamonds taken out of unsold new jewelry or from pawn and auctions with no traceability really be considered “recycled”?  Or should “recycled” only refer to post-consumer diamonds that have been purchased and entered the public market. 

How can you be sure a diamond is genuinely post-consumer recycled? 

Earlier this year we went to the SCS Global Services to have them audit our sustainability claims. In hopes of giving you, the consumer, some peace of mind when shopping with us. We applied for SCS third-party certification to our recycled yellow gold and recycled diamonds claims. BUT during the audit we uncovered that one of our main sources for “recycled” diamonds did not meet the qualifications for SCS standards of what recycled means.

To pass these rigorous standards, the SCS defines sustainability claims as “post-consumer recycled” with traceable origins and proof of anti-laundering. Post-consumer, being the most important part, meaning there is proof that the materials have been purchased and owned by at least one other public consumer before being turned into another piece of jewelry for a second consumer.

Through our detailed audit, we found out that one of our “recycled” diamond sources was using diamonds removed from unsold new jewelry to resell as “recycled” diamonds, which is a very common definition of recycled within the jewelry industry. According to the SCS, however this  does not meet their definition of recycled, since the stones had not been previously sold/owned in the market. This caused us to do a lot more research into how we could source proven “post-consumer recycled” diamonds. We have chosen two resources, one already SCS-certified diamond reseller and...buying diamonds from you! We help our own customers recycle the jewelry they no longer want or wear, and that helps us repurpose those diamonds into certified post-consumer recycled pieces. 

It’s been a slow process sourcing, sorting, cleaning, and grading enough post-consumer recycled diamonds for all of our pieces. We have been adding them in more and more and next we are excited to announce we will be launching our first piece using 100% post-consumer recycled diamonds (and 100% post-consumer recycled gold or sterling silver!) as a very special collaboration with an amazing partner in the fashion sustainability space. Look out for that launch soon! 

Our goal in the next 5 years is to become a circular fine jewelry brand, making pieces with 100% certified post-consumer recycled materials sourced from our own customers. If you are interested in cleaning out your jewelry box and helping us on this journey reach out to hello@starlingjewelry.com. And don’t forget that we also love to help you reuse the pieces you own but don't want to sell with Heirloom Revival.   

Why is recycling diamonds so important?

"The average stone in an engagement ring is the product of the removal and processing of 200 to 400 million times its volume of rock."

~ US Geological Survey



Large scale diamond mines are some of the most environmentally destructive operations in existence. Not only does the physical process destroy the earth -- gouging scars down the middle of national parks so large they are visible from space -- the chemical process poisons it. Just last year, the US imported 2,152,343.74 carats of diamonds (equivalent to more than $331 million). For every one carat of those diamonds produced, around 57kgs of greenhouse gas emissions were released into the atmosphere. We would need to recycle 250 cans to offset the emissions of just one carat. We have a lot of recycling to do! 


Emissions aside, within the next few decades, the majority of notable diamond mines will run dry and the last diamond on earth will be mined


Luckily for us, diamonds are forever, and we already have around one trillion dollars’ worth of “used” diamonds in our homes! Post-consumer diamonds have the smallest carbon footprint (almost none) of any diamond you can buy, making them the most environmentally sustainable option.



(1) Fernandez, Jessica and Klimas, Christie, 2019: “A Life Cycle Assessment of Jewelry,” DePaul Discoveries: Vol. 8 : Iss. 1 , Article 6.  https://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1151&context=depaul-disc
(2) Kimberley Process Statistics: Public Statistics — “Annual Global Summary: 2019 Production, Imports, Exports and KPC Counts.” https://kimberleyprocessstatistics.org/static/pdfs/public_statistics/2019/2019GlobalSummary.pdf
(3)  Harvey-Walker, Benn, 2019: “What’s the carbon cost of your jewellery?” https://www.ethicaljewels.com.au/2019/05/10/whats-the-carbon-cost-of-your-jewellery/
(4) The Fancy Color Research Association, 2019: “The Last Diamond Unearthed: The Countdown is On!” https://www.fcresearch.org/the-last-diamond-unearthed-the-countdown-is-on/
(5) Gordon, Julie; Reuters, 2012: “’ Recycled’ diamonds come back to haunt industry.” https://www.reuters.com/article/mining-diamonds/recycled-diamonds-come-back-to-haunt-industry-idINDEE82C09N20120313
(6) Sieff, Kevin, 2017: "A new frontier for diamond mining: The ocean" https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/a-new-frontier-for-diamond-mining-the-ocean 
(7) Sabri, Roya, 2021: "A Lab-Created Diamonds "Forever," or Only Second Best?" https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2021/lab-created-diamonds/722276
(8) Bates, Rob, 2019: "Just How Eco-Friendly Are Lab-Created Diamonds?" https://www.jckonline.com/editorial-article/lab-created-diamonds-eco-friendly/
(9) Janin Danahey, Pat, 2019: "Ocean Mining" https://www.marinebio.org/conservation/ocean-mining/
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