Sweeps for CERF Program

With its “Sweeps For CERF” program, Rio Grande accepts your precious metal sweeps and turns them into cash that is then donated to CERF+ to help jewelers overcome severe set-back and natural disasters.

Last edited: 10/5/2021

Did you know that all the sweeps from your bench can make a big difference in the lives of fellow artists and jewelry makers? In partnership with CERF+, the Rio Grande “Sweeps for CERF” program accepts sweeps from you and other jewelers as donations to help craftspeople across the United States. The sweeps from our own production work go into the effort as well and, together, we all make a big difference. Rather than letting your sweeps sit for years in your shop or discarding them into a landfill, please consider putting them to positive use to help support craftspeople through devastating natural disasters and other emergencies. Total donations to date made by Rio Grande and our customers is nearly $60,000—and every donation adds a bit more. It's easy to see how much we can accomplish together.

In 1985, the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (now a program of CERF+) began when co-founders Carol Sedestrom Ross, then president of American Craft Enterprises, and glassblower Josh Simpson recognized the inherent generosity within the craft community. Artists would “pass the hat” to collect monetary donations during shows and exhibitions in support of fellow artists dealing with emergencies. CERF (now a larger, more encompassing effort known as CERF+) was founded to expand this grassroots effort.

“CERF+ saved my business during a catastrophic health crisis. With their grants and loans, I was able to heal and rebuild my business into the healthy entity it is today. Can't ever thank them enough.”

Martha Bennington, Jewelry Artist; Bradenton, FL

“CERF+ made a terrible event so much easier to handle. They provided much-needed assistance, making it possible for me to get back on track and keep my business going. I am so grateful to CERF+.”

Aran Galligan, Jewelry Artist; Seattle, WA

“When you experience a traumatic event in your life and you're a self-employed craftsperson, there aren't many options available. CERF+ [was] there for me and I'll be forever grateful.”

Bonnie Blandford, Jewelry Artist; Grand Rapids, MI

How Does the Program Work?

It’s simple. Collect your sweeps and periodically send them to us; we'll take care of the rest.

To send your sweeps:

  1. Place the sweeps into a plastic bag and seal it.
  2. Place the bag into a box. Please Note: Put only bagged sweeps into the box. We will not process or be responsible for items other than bagged sweeps (including scrap-for-credit or returned merchandise).
  3. Address your package to:
    Rio Grande
    7500 Bluewater Rd.
    Albuquerque, NM 87121
    Attention: Sweeps for CERF

All the sweeps we receive are added to our own sweeps and submitted in large lots to the refining facility. Our heartfelt thanks to our refining partner, Glines & Rhodes, who donated their services in processing your contributions. All proceeds realized from the refining process are sent directly to CERF+ to help them in their mission to aid craft artists in need.

What Qualifies as “Sweeps”?

Sweeps consist of the precious-metal sweepings from the benches, floors and equipment in metalsmithing work areas. Buffing and polishing processes in the silver and electroplating industries produce cast-off materials that can be collected and combined with sweeps for refining.

Both sweeps and buffing materials contain various amounts of precious metals that can be reclaimed through refining processes.

Please Note: The value of what is reclaimed from your sweeps and buffing material is donated directly to CERF+; however, because we collect and combine sweeps from many individuals and businesses, we are unable to provide tax receipts or supply specific information about the value of any contributor’s individual donations.

Want to do even more? Find out more about CERF+.