Policies & Issues

What Is ‘Salmon Gold,’ and Why Is Tiffany Using It?

Policies & IssuesAug 14, 2019

What Is ‘Salmon Gold,’ and Why Is Tiffany Using It?

The jeweler joins Apple in adopting a new initiative that combines re-mining with fish habitat restoration.

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Gold nuggets recovered from Jack Wade Creek, a tributary of the Fortymile River in Alaska, that will be used in sustainable “Salmon Gold”
Washington, D.C.—Tiffany & Co. is the first jeweler to start using gold sourced from an initiative that combines re-mining with fish habitat restoration.

Announced this week by non-governmental organization Resolve, the initiative is called “Salmon Gold” and is being adopted by another pretty well-known company—Apple. 

It is, the organization said, an innovative approach to mining gold that will also restore habitats in Alaska, Canada’s Yukon Territory and British Columbia, all regions with “globally significant” habitat for salmon and other anadromous fish species (those spend most of their lives in saltwater but return to freshwater to spawn).

The project targets areas affected by tailings—residue from old placer gold mining sites—left in the streams or on the banks, which can prevent fish like salmon and grayling from migrating and spawning. 

The re-mining of the tailings happens first, according to Resolve President Stephen D’Esposito, with restoration in mind as the trees, soil and rocks are kept nearby. 

Intensive restoration happens after re-mining is complete, including reclamation (stabilizing the stream with rocks) and restoration (improving the habitat by adding more pools to support spawning, making sure it has the right vegetation, and more).

D’Esposito said Resolve creates a restoration plan for each stream, or section of stream, noting that restoration can take more than one mining season to complete.

Salmon Gold’s first phase focused on part of Jack Wade Creek, a tributary of the Fortymile River in Alaska.

There, Resolve partnered with Dean Race and his two sons, Chris and Dakota, placer miners and restoration entrepreneurs, as well as government agencies to test restoration methods, process recovered gold and establish a chain of custody for the first batch of Salmon Gold going from mine to manufacturers. 

Gold from the project is now in Tiffany’s supply chain. A company spokesperson told National Jeweler the gold will enter the retailer’s larger supply of raw gold, though there is no specific collection or marketing push planned by them for Salmon Gold. 

Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chief sustainability officer at Tiffany, said in a press release: “At Tiffany & Co., we are committed to safeguarding critical ecosystems, including in majestic Alaska and its precious salmon habitats, a place that we have long advocated for. Salmon Gold proves that responsible mining practices and restoration of important ecosystems in Alaska, the Yukon, and British Columbia can go hand in hand.”

Tiffany has a long history protecting salmon and speaking out about environmental issues in general.


The retailer was among those that led the charge to get jewelers to vow to boycott gold from the never-developed Pebble mine in Alaska back in 2009. Its efforts included screening the documentary “Red Gold,” which detailed tensions between native fisherman in Bristol Bay and mine officials, for editors in New York City.

And in May 2017, the retailer took out an ad in The New York Times urging President Donald Trump to keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement, which he did not.

RELATED CONTENT: Tiffany Is Now Telling Consumers the Origin of Its Diamonds

With the success of the initial phase, Salmon Gold has expanded beyond the Fortymile River with new sites now at Sulphur Creek in the Yukon Territory and Gold Creek, north of Talkeetna, Alaska.

Resolve is considering more sites throughout Alaska, the Yukon and British Columbia.

The NGO will continue to support stream restoration pilots—going from three to 15 sites over the next two years—and then scale up to target restoration at a “watershed level.” 

D’Esposito said that with 10 to 15 sites, the organization should be able to show that the model can scale and become self-sustaining. 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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