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Right Royal Recycling - what would the carbon footprint of a new State Crown be?

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Right Royal Recycling - what would the carbon footprint of a new State Crown be?

​Last weekend the UK held the coronation of King Charles III. Much attention was given to how sustainable the event was. Whilst for many, it probably isn’t a hardship to wear a second hand, hand me down crown, the truth is that not creating a new crown is actually very sustainable. In this article we will look at the cost and more importantly the potential carbon emissions of creating a new State Crown.

The crown jewels are an iconic symbol of the British monarchy, housed in the Tower of London and admired by millions of visitors each year. The dazzling collection includes the famous Crown Jewels and many other precious items, but what if the UK decided to create a new state crown? In this article, we will explore the cost and carbon footprint of creating a new state crown, considering the various factors such as the sourcing of diamonds and precious metals, transportation, and ongoing security. By understanding the environmental impact of producing such an important symbol, we can better appreciate the significance of these treasured artifacts and the importance of sustainability in the modern world.

Introduction to Crown Jewels and Their Significance

The crown jewels hold a special place in the hearts of the British people and are an essential aspect of the country's heritage. These precious items symbolize the pomp and ceremony of the British monarchy, with each piece holding a unique historical significance. From coronations to state occasions, the crown jewels are a symbol of continuity, tradition, and national pride.

Diamonds, Precious Metals, and Their Role in the Crown Jewels

The crown jewels are made up of a vast array of diamonds, precious metals, and other gemstones, which contribute to their immense value and visual appeal. The most famous diamonds in the collection include the Cullinan I and II, which are the largest and second-largest cut diamonds in the world. Other notable gems include the Koh-i-Noor and the Stuart Sapphire. In addition to diamonds, the crown jewels also feature gold, silver, platinum, and other precious metals, which are used to craft the intricate settings and designs of the crowns, sceptres, and other regalia.

Cost of Creating a New State Crown

Creating a new state crown would undoubtedly be an expensive undertaking, involving the sourcing of high-quality diamonds and precious metals, as well as the craftsmanship required to design and produce the intricate piece. In this section, we will examine the various factors that contribute to the overall cost of making a new state crown for the UK.

Sourcing Diamonds and Precious Metals

The first step in creating a new state crown would be to source the necessary materials, including diamonds and precious metals. The cost of diamonds can vary dramatically depending on their quality, size, and rarity. For example, the Cullinan I diamond is estimated to be worth over £400 million, while smaller, less rare diamonds may be valued at a few thousand pounds. Similarly, the cost of precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum is subject to market fluctuations, with gold prices currently hovering around £1,300 per ounce.

Design and Craftsmanship

Once the materials have been sourced, the next step would be to design the new crown and employ skilled craftsmen to bring the design to life. This process would likely involve a team of experts, including designers, goldsmiths, and gemmologists. The cost of this labour would depend on the complexity of the design, the number of hours required, and the expertise of the individuals involved. It is estimated that the labour costs could range from tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Overall Cost Estimate

Taking into account the cost of materials and labour, the overall cost of creating a new state crown for the UK could easily reach several million pounds, the Imperial State Crown is valued at between $3.4bn and $7bn. However, this figure could be significantly higher or lower depending on the specific materials used, the complexity of the design, and other factors. Additionally, the cost of ongoing security and maintenance for the new crown would also need to be considered.

Carbon Footprint of Crafting a New State Crown

The production of a new state crown would also have a significant environmental impact, primarily due to the carbon emissions associated with diamond mining, precious metal extraction, and transportation. In this section, we will discuss the various factors that contribute to the carbon footprint of creating a new state crown.

Diamond Mining and Carbon Emissions

Diamond mining is a carbon-intensive process, largely due to the energy required for extraction, processing, and transportation. According to a study by the Carbon Disclosure Project, the average carbon emissions per carat of diamond production are approximately 160 kg CO2e, the Imperial State Crown contains 2868 diamonds, so a new crown could have nearly 459 tonnes of CO2e in diamonds alone. The average person on the globe has a carbon footprint of 4 tonnes of CO2e – so greater than 110 peoples emissions. This figure varies depending on the mining methods employed and the specific mine location. For example, open-pit mines typically have higher carbon emissions than underground mines, while mines in remote locations may require more energy for transportation.

Precious Metal Extraction and Carbon Emissions

Similar to diamond mining, the extraction of precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum also contributes to carbon emissions. The carbon footprint of gold extraction, for example, is estimated to be around 18 kg CO2e per gram of gold. This figure can vary depending on factors such as the type of mine, the efficiency of the extraction process, and the source of the energy used. The Imperial State Crown has 1221g of gold, so a new crown’s gold content could be responsible for 21 tonnes of CO2e.

Transportation and Carbon Emissions

The transportation of diamonds, precious metals, and other materials required for the creation of a new state crown would also contribute to the overall carbon footprint of the project. This would include the shipping of materials from mines to processing facilities, as well as the transportation of the finished crown to the UK. The carbon emissions associated with transportation would be dependent on factors such as the mode of transport, the distance travelled, and the efficiency of the vehicles involved.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Crown Jewels Production

While it is clear that the creation of a new state crown would have a significant environmental impact, there are steps that can be taken to reduce this impact and promote more sustainable practices in the production of the crown jewels.

Sourcing Ethical Diamonds

One way to reduce the carbon emissions associated with diamond mining is to source ethical diamonds, which are mined using environmentally responsible methods. These diamonds are typically certified by organizations such as the Kimberley Process or the Responsible Jewellery Council, ensuring that they are produced in compliance with strict environmental and social standards.

Using Recycled Precious Metals

Another strategy for reducing the carbon footprint of a new state crown is to use recycled precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum. By using recycled materials, the environmental impact of mining and extraction can be minimized, promoting a more sustainable approach to the creation of the crown jewels.

Efficient Transportation and Logistics

Finally, optimizing transportation and logistics can also help to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the production of a new state crown. This may involve selecting the most efficient modes of transport, consolidating shipments, and planning transportation routes to minimize fuel consumption and emissions.


In conclusion, the cost and carbon footprint associated with creating a new state crown for the UK are significant, reflecting the immense value and complexity of these iconic symbols of the British monarchy. We can also appreciate the importance of maintaining and recycling the existing crown jewels.