Fairtrade Q&A: Stephen Webster, Stephen Webster

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The fine jeweller on spreading the Fairtrade message & supply issues.

Professional Jeweller’s March 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. Stephen Webster tells us about working with Fairtrade Fairmined gold, getting clients on board and boosting staff knowledge.

Professional Jeweller: You have created a bridal collection in Fairtrade Fairmined gold; how big a demand does your business have for Fairtrade Fairmined products?
Stephen Webster: As we stand the supply of Fairtrade and Fairmined products is relatively small within the jewellery industry and the awareness is still quite low. This is much more about the future. Our experience to date has shown us that once the consumer knows there is an ethical alternative to any of the materials used in their jewellery, the response is always positive.

PJ: Why did you decide to create a bridal collection in Fairtrade Fairmined gold?
SW: I thought it made no sense to design a specific collection in order to separate the ethical gold and the normally sourced gold, why not offer the first supplies to couples getting engaged or married as an alternative. Even though the cost to us for such gold is over 10% higher we absorb this premium. We don’t want price to be the reason not to choose a more responsible product.

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PJ: Does your average consumer have an awareness of Fairtrade?
SW: Generally we find that consumers are aware of Fairtrade products like coffee, bananas etcetera, products that have been widely promoted, but not as many people are aware of Fairtrade Gold. But when you explain it to them, especially having visited the mines myself, our customers are always very supportive and keen to know more.

PJ: Where do you think the Fairtrade Fairmined offer could improve, or where do issues lay in the supply chain or manufacture?
SW: We don’t pass onto the consumer the premium that we have to pay for Fairtrade gold but it definitely is something that needs to be taken into consideration. A client is happy to choose Fairtrade gold and support the miners but the decision can be more difficult if the price jumps by 15%. It still is early days for the supply chain and as the scheme grows its member numbers and production will get better and easier.

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?
SW: It’s important that consumers are aware of the journey their purchases have taken; particularly in jewellery where almost all jewellery is given to mark emotional occasions and an expression of love. Given its significance, a clear supply chain, knowledgeable staff and awareness is something that all consumers should now expect.

To read more about Fairtrade Fairmined gold in Professional Jeweller’s March issue, click here.
 

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