Fairtrade Q&A: Harriet Kelsall

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The bespoke jeweller on the need for wider FTFM media coverage.

Professional Jeweller’s March 2013 issue takes an in-depth look at the development of Fairtrade Fairmined gold in the UK, from client demand through to supply chain issues, pricing and marketing. Bespoke jeweller Harriet Kelsall last year opened a workshop and Fairtrade coffee shop. She explains why Fairmined is no longer niche.

Professional Jeweller: How big a demand does your business have for Fairtrade Fairmined products?
Harriet Kelsall: We have a steady and growing demand for Fairtrade products. We have quite a few customers who come in especially asking about this. Other times we offer the customers options (for example standard gold of Fairtrade gold at different prices) and they very often choose Fairtrade gold over standard gold.

PJ: You make both silver and fine jewellery, including bridal jewels. Will you use certified Fairmined silver and platinum now that they’re available?
HK: Yes – we were already offering pre-certificated platinum and as long as we can see a demand for these materials we will offer them. So far we are sad to say we hadn’t seen so much of a demand for pre-certified platinum but hopefully that will change now that certified is available.

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PJ: Does your average consumer have an awareness of Fairtrade Fairmined metals, or what it means to be Fairtrade in jewellery?
HK: The days where you had to be wearing ethnic clothes and be a bit of a hippy to know about Fairtrade are long gone. All different types, ages, genders and style of people now know about or choose or ask about Fairtrade. Fairtrade is no longer niche. As [Fairtrade chief executive] Harriet Lamb said at the 2011 Fairtrade conference – back then more than three out of 10 people were buying Fairtrade products and apparently if three out of 10 people or more push out their bins to be emptied on a random wrong day along a street, we all follow with putting out our bins thinking this must be something we have missed. So more than three out of 10 is thus proved as normal and not niche any longer.

PJ: As a jewellery company with a team of workshop staff, have you noted any issues with the Fairtrade Fairmined supply chain issues?
HK: We Fairtrade licence holders continue to have a close connection with the Fairtrade foundation (for example consulting about potential changes to the Fairtrade standard). I know they are doing all they are able to at the moment and have a huge respect for the work they do. I know then and all of us are looking forward to the future of more Fairtrade products being available. I am also looking forward to a time where I hope the cost price of a gemstone won’t be included with the Fairtrade licence fee calculation as this makes the price off-putting for people who are choosing larger more costly stones.

PJ: What do you think needs to happen in the UK, or globally, to increase demand and awareness of Fairtrade and ethical practises when it comes to precious metals?
HK: I’d like to see more media coverage outside the jewellery press about Fairtrade gold specifically. It is still a young Fairtrade product but quite a few UK consumers still don’t know it is available including ones who are very interested when they do hear about it. Also even though the UK strongly leads the way in the understanding of the concept of Fairtrade and the logo, still there are many people who don’t fully understand quite why they should be buying Fairtrade products – that it isn’t just about a fair price for farmers or minders, but also about money for their communities. And, very importantly, about sustainability of our way of life over here in the West.

 

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