The ethical designer on winning clients from rock stars to farmers.
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. Hattie Rickards, a growing name on the ethical jewellery scene, discusses the pros and cons of Fairtrade Fairmined metals and certification.
Professional Jeweller: How big a demand do you have for Fairtrade Fairmined products?
Hattie Rickards: We get a lot of clients coming to us who have found us purely by searching for ethical jewellery and the demand is increasing. Even if the clients have never heard about Fairtrade gold before, as soon as they do, all the repeat purchases are produced out of Fairtrade gold.
PJ: Do you think it is up the designer to drive interest to consumers?
HR: I believe it is the responsibility of both the designer and the customer to demand greater ethical visibility and responsibility from our suppliers – the only that way can we help to shift the industry. It took a lot of research to find my source of gold initially, but even in the short space of time since then, the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold certification has been launched with a great success. For my collections and commission work I now only use gold sourced from a particular mine in Colombia that has full traceability. I feel incredibly proud to be one of the first 20 companies to be registered Fairtrade and Fairmined licensee in the UK.
PJ: Are you set to get on board with using Fairtrade Fairmined silver and platinum?
HR: I already have. We currently have a highly intricate hand-engraved wedding band for a male client which is made out of Fairtrade Platinum. We also have our first Fairtrade silver ring which shall launch in March 2013 – watch this space.
PJ: Do you have a typical Fairtrade Fairmined customer?
HR: My clients tend to range from 30 to 65, male and female. My work seems to attract a lot of architects but vary from farmers to rock stars. They tend not to know of Fairtrade jewellery before they sit down with me but their morals are very similar which explains why they come to me and as soon as they are made aware, they don’t seem to turn back.
PJ: Where do you think the Fairtrade Fairmined offer could improve, or where are there issues in the supply chain or manufacture?
HR: Us licensees are longing for there to be a supply of Fairtrade findings such as chains and clasps, as this leads to great problems with the certification of the piece. For example, if you are making a pendant out of Fairtrade gold and the chain, which is standard gold, weighs more than pendent, then your piece of jewellery cannot be certified Fairtrade.
PJ: What do you think needs to happen in the UK, or globally, to increase demand and awareness of Fairtrade and ethical practices when it comes to precious metals?
HR: Greater awareness! Too many people still don’t know that Fairtrade gold exists. If we can all spread the word more, people will understand and start to help making a difference which is so desperately needed.