What is it? Scéona creates sustainable fine-jewellery through urban mining. The gold used, is sourced from urban mining of e-waste – microprocessors in computers and smartphones (Scéona, 2021b). The precious stones used in manufacturing are lab-grown (Scéona, 2021b).
Why is this important? Most fine jewellery today is manufactured from new raw materials. The world mines 2,500-3,000 tons of gold annually, 50% of which is used in the jewellery sector (WGC, 2021a, b). This mining process can emit up to 36,793 tons of CO2 per tonne of gold (WGC, 2019), which is one of the highest footprints in the mining sector (Reid & Lewis, 2020). Gold mining also generates mine tailings with high concentrations of chemicals such as, mercury, sulfuric acid, cyanide, and other heavy metals (Diringer et al., 2015; Fashola et al., 2016). These can pollute water bodies and damage aquatic systems (Fashola et al., 2016; Kozacek, 2012). Gold is an inert metal, and a good conductor of electricity, and is extensively used to build circuits in microprocessors and semiconductors in electronics (Fleming, 2019; Goodman, 2002). However, this gold is typically lost when the electronic devices reach their end-of-life (WEF, 2019). There is significant potential in reclaiming this resource through e-waste recycling (Fleming, 2019; Van Eygen et al., 2016). Additionally, mining of diamonds causes significant pollution too through mine tailings and deforestation (Rollo & Jamieson, 2006; Yelpaala & Ali, 2005). In contrast, using the lab-grown diamonds has the potential to lower environmental impact (Constable, 2020).
Main resource strategy: Closing & narrowing the loop by recycling gold through urban mining, and keeping materials in use longer.
Narrowing the loop by using lab grown diamonds, which have a considerably lower carbon footprint.
Business model aspects: Scéona creates fine jewellery by sourcing recycled metals from e-waste.
- Value Proposition: Jewellery exclusively made from recycled gold and lab grown diamonds (Scéona, 2021b).
- Value Creation & Delivery: Customers can purchase products of their choice on the website. The company also offers the opportunity to create personalised pieces. These pieces are more expensive, and the brand actively encourages customers to create only what is needed and necessary.
- Value Capture: The brand fills a gap in the fashion sector for customers looking for sustainable fine jewellery. The company’s products are free of mining, chemicals, plastics, carbon and slavery (Scéona, 2021c).
Strategies for degrowth/ sufficiency (based on sufficiency strategies from Niessen & Bocken, 2021):
- Awareness-raising: The brand actively encourages customers to buy less, and take care of their jewellery pieces so they last longer. This message is actively disseminated both through the company’s website and social media (Scéona, 2021a, e).
Business model experimentation practices: Scéona started off with the Founder working in product development of other jewellery brands, and realising there is a gap that needs to be filled for sustainable fine jewellery (Scéona, 2021d).
Sustainability outcomes: By solely using urban mined gold, it is assumed that the products have a lower environmental burden. The exact environmental impact reductions of using recycled gold, have not been calculated yet. Scéona also only uses lab-grown diamonds. By doing so, the company reports a reduced water usage by 410 litres and carbon emissions by 53 kg, when compared to per carat of mined diamonds (Scéona, 2021b).
Constable, H. (2020). The sparkling rise of the lab grown diamond. Future Planet. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200207-the-sparkling-rise-of-the-lab-grown-diamond
Diringer, S. E., Feingold, B. J., Ortiz, E. J., Gallis, J. A., Araújo-Flores, J. M., Berky, A., Pan, W. K. Y., & Hsu-Kim, H. (2015). River transport of mercury from artisanal and small-scale gold mining and risks for dietary mercury exposure in Madre de Dios, Peru. Environmental Science. Processes & Impacts, 17(2), 478–487. https://doi.org/10.1039/c4em00567h
Fashola, M. O., Ngole-Jeme, V. M., & Babalola, O. O. (2016). Heavy Metal Pollution from Gold Mines: Environmental Effects and Bacterial Strategies for Resistance. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13111047
Fleming, S. (2019). We generate 125,000 jumbo jets worth of e-waste every year. Here’s how we can tackle the problem. WEForum. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/we-generate-125-000-jumbo-jets-worth-of-e-waste-every-year-here-s-how-we-can-tackle-this-toxic-deluge/
Goodman, P. (2002). Current and future uses of gold in electronics. Gold Bulletin. 35(1). https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2FBF03214833
Kozacek, C. (2012). Global gold rush: The price of mining pursuits on the water supply. Circle of blue. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.circleofblue.org/2012/world/global-gold-rush-the-price-of-mining-pursuits-on-water-supply/
Niessen, L., & Bocken, N. M. P. (2021). How can businesses drive sufficiency? The business for sufficiency framework. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 28, 1090-1103. doi:10.1016/j.spc.2021.07.030
Reid, J., & Lewis, H. (2020). Gold mining emissions draw scrutiny after price surge. Reuters. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mining-gold-emissions-idUKKBN2832ZN
Rollo, H. A., & Jamieson, H. E. (2006). Interaction of diamond mine waste and surface water in the Canadian Arctic. Applied Geochemistry, 21(9), 1522–1538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2006.05.008
Scéona. (2021a). Blog. Accessed 23 April 2021 at: https://sceona.com/pages/blog
Scéona. (2021b). Home. Accessed 28 April 2021 at: https://sceona.com/
Scéona. (2021c). Our Materials. Accessed 23 April 2021 at: https://sceona.com/pages/materials
Scéona. (2021d). The Team. Accessed 28 April 2021 at: https://sceona.com/pages/the-team
Scéona. (2021e). Why recycled gold is the future of jewellery?. Accessed 23 April 2021 at: https://sceona.com/blogs/news/why-recycled-gold-is-the-future-of-jewellery
Van Eygen, E., De Meester, S., Tran, H. P., & Dewulf, J. (2016). Resource savings by urban mining: The case of desktop and laptop computers in Belgium. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 107, 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.10.032
WEF (World Economic Forum). (2019). A new circular vision for electronics: Time for a Global Reboot. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_A_New_Circular_Vision_for_Electronics.pdf
WGC (World Gold Council). (2019). Gold and climate change: Current and future impacts. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.gold.org/goldhub/research/gold-and-climate-change-current-and-future-impacts
WGC (World Gold Council). (2021a). Gold demand sectors. Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-demand/sectors-of-demand
WGC (World Gold Council). (2021b). How much gold has been mined? Accessed 29 April 2021 at: https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-supply/gold-mining/how-much-gold
Yelpaala, K., & Ali, S. H. (2005). Multiple scales of diamond mining in Akwatia, Ghana: Addressing environmental and human development impact. Resources Policy, 30(3), 145–155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resourpol.2005.08.001
About project Circular X
Project Circular X is about ‘Experimentation with Circular Service Business Models’. It is an ambitious research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) which supports top researchers from anywhere in the world. Project CIRCULAR X runs from 2020-2025. The project is led by Principal Investigator (PI) Prof Dr Nancy Bocken, who is joined by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI), Maastricht School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University. The project cooperates with businesses who want to innovate towards the circular economy.
Project Circular X addresses a new and urgent issue: experimentation with circular service business models (CSBMs). Examples of such new business models include companies shifting from selling products to selling services and introducing lifelong warrantees to extend product lifetimes. However, CSBMs are far from mainstream and research focused on experimentation is little understood. The research aims to conduct interdisciplinary research with 4 objectives:
- Advancing understanding of CSBMs; their emergence and impacts
- Advancing knowledge on CSBM experimentation
- Developing CSBM experimentation tools
- Designing and deploying CSBM experimentation labs
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No. 850159.
Using this information
When you refer to this case, please use the following source:
Circular X. (2021) Case study: Scéona: Urban Mined Jewellery. Accessed from www.circularx.eu