Tiffany’s Retired Chief Executive Argues for Responsible Gold Mining

Michael J. Kowalski served as chief executive of Tiffany & Company from 1999 until 2015, and now is chairman of Tiffany’s board. If there is anyone who knows about where precious metals come from and how they are used in the jewelry industry, he is the man.

That is what makes “When Gold Isn’t Worth the Price,” an opinion piece that he published in The New York Times on November 6, 2015, so compelling. Kowalski isn’t an anti-gold environmentalist who thinks that people shouldn’t buy and enjoy beautiful jewelry. He simply thinks that it is time to make sure that gold jewelry is made from metals that come from sources that do not cause excessive damage to the environment.

If everybody recycled more gold, there would be less of a need for open-pit gold mines like this one. Credit: jfoltyn/iStock.

If everybody recycled more gold, there would be less of a need for open-pit gold mines like this one. Credit: jfoltyn/iStock.

Kowalski’s Story

Back in 2008, Kowalski and a team of executives from Tiffany traveled to Bristol Bay, Alaska to take a first-hand look at how gold was being mined at the Pebble Bay mine there. “This vast open-pit gold and copper mine and its toxic waste would obliterate miles of pristine streams and thousands of wilderness acres that sustain the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, which supports thousands of jobs,” he writes. “No amount of corporate profit or share price value could justify our participation, however indirectly, in the degradation of such indescribable beauty.”

So Kowalski and his team decided to stop buying gold from that mine and became leading champions of responsible mining in the area. Kowalski still goes there, he writes, but on fishing expeditions.

You Can Do Your Part Too

Please remember that every ounce of gold, whether it's 24k gold, gold-plated or gold-filled, that you have us recycle and refine for you here at Gold, part of Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners, is an ounce of gold that does not have to be newly mined from the earth. Streams, lakes and air are not polluted when we recycle your gold, very little energy is used – a miniscule amount in comparison to what is expended in mining operations.

Please call us at 800-426-2344 if you have questions about getting your gold tested and recycled. When you call, please mention this blog post and ask about free or discounted ways to send your materials to us for testing.

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