RJM receives about 100 pounds or 45 kilograms of jewelry at each donation drive. Once material is donated, it must be sorted and assessed. Assessing the material for its reuse potential is one of the most important parts of the project, turning donations of costume jewelry, beads, precious metals, etc. into raw material for jewelers.
Approximately 99% of what is collected is costume jewelry while the other 1% is precious material. Unlike precious material — silver, gold, etc. — which is 100% recyclable, costume jewelry is, by nature, cheap, easy to purchase, easy to wear, and easy to replace but, it is not made to last. It cannot be recycled, only reused.
In the RJM system costume jewelry has the lowest reuse value because it is difficult to use; it is brittle, its materials are often unknown, and it has a strong aesthetic. More importantly, this jewelry is NOT recyclable, therefore making this jewelry into NEW jewelry often means only extending its life for a short while longer.
The 1% of precious materials are 100% recyclable. These materials are assessed at the highest value and these materials are either collaboratively refined or used as is by the jewelers.