Stephen Webster on his jewellery adventures with Fairtrade gold.
By Stephen Webster
Two and a half years ago I was approached by two guys from a Dutch NGO called Solidaridad asking if I would be interested in a supply of ethically sourced gold.
Suspicious of anyone offering me a supply of anything ethical or not, I was naturally sceptical. I wanted to know how the flow to business would be managed as we had once before signed up for some sustainable gold only to find out later that the supply chain consisted of a part time actor and his knapsack.
Fast forward to January 2011. We had been kept informed about the progress and Solidaridad were working constantly all along the supply chain to ensure that by the time the product reached the consumer it would be 100% traceable and sustainable.
Partly due to my enquiring mind and never one to miss an adventure, I put it to Solidaridad that a trip to the source would help Stephen Webster and Garrard as brands to spread the word about ethical gold.
To my surprise there was an incredible enthusiasm to do so as they had struggled to find high-profile brands to embrace the work at the early stages and felt they would benefit hugely by using us to experience the work achieved so far.
As goldsmiths with 68 years experience between us, my brother and I were excited to go to the source of a material we knew so well.
The experience proved to us how, over time, unregulated small-scale miners become part of well-run legal businesses. Of course, the most important element is that mercury is no longer used for processing. This is the key to the safety of the all of the mining villages.
We intend to grow the volume of business we conduct using Fairtrade gold. One day I want the gold we sell to be 100% Fairtrade. For now, both Stephen Webster and Garrard offer engagement and wedding rings made in London using this gold.
Over the next few years more small-scale miners will join the growing number of certified mines, benefiting their families and eventually enabling they themselves to become the shareholders rather than straight manual workers.
This article was taken from the January issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full, via our digital editions, click here.