Fairtrade International and manufacturers joining forces for project.
Fairtrade International has announced plans to improve the availability of Fairtrade gold wedding rings in a bid to boost sales, with hopes of the number sold hitting 100,000 in the UK next year.
The initiative, led by ethical campaigner and Fairtrade gold and precious metals co-ordinator Greg Valerio, will work with leading UK wedding ring manufacturers to try to boost the number of weddings and civil partnerships sealed with Fairtrade rings to 50,000 in 2014.
A number of British manufacturers, including Brown & Newirth and Hockley Mint, have pledged their commitment to Fairtrade wedding bands following an in-depth discussion surrounding Fairtrade gold that took place at the recent Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) UK Jewellery Conference.
Miners from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia attended the conference, with a presentation led by Valerio and Cred managing director Alan Frampton outlining Fairtrade’s commitment to transforming the lives of artisanal and small-scale miners through the Fairtrade label for gold.
Valerio said: “The recent meeting at the CMJ UK Jewellery Conference in Birmingham was a significant step to bringing Fairtrade back into the consciousness of UK jewellery retailers and was a great opportunity for our certified mining partners to meet key jewellery trade people. It is always dynamic when miners and jewellers meet, as it creates the sparks of opportunity and change.
“We are now working to catch up with the enquiries we have had, but I can say with some confidence that Fairtrade gold is set to become the norm when it comes to purchases, in particular for wedding rings, for which the 2014 campaign will drive forward acknowledgement of Fairtrade among the average consumer. We are now talking with our national campaign networks and partners about how we can achieve Fairtrade gold being available on every high street in the country.”
A further result of the discussion was a call from CMJ chief executive Willie Hamilton for its supplier members to support Fairtrade initiatives in the UK by offering Fairtrade options. Immediately after the conference CMJ supplier Brown & Newirth revealed an eight-piece Fairtrade gold wedding band collection comprising of bestsellers, made using gold from Latin America and exclusively available to the buying group.
Hamilton told Professional Jeweller: “For the CMJ, Fairtrade gold has been on the radar for some time and we have supported the likes of Cred and the efforts of advocates such as Greg Valerio for many years. Following the emotional response from delegates after hearing Fairtrade miners speak at our UK Jewellery Conference, suppliers have already upped their efforts. This is about offering consumers a choice rather than waiting for their customers to ask for it. As Steve Jobs said, ‘no one ever asked for an iPad’.”
From here on, Fairtrade will work closely with UK companies to get the wedding ring initiative off the ground, which in turn will bring about 500kg of Fairtrade gold into the UK, the equivalent of US$1 million (£618,500) in value terms; money that will go back into supporting local communities in Latin America and Africa.
On October 10, Fairtrade held a stakeholder meeting in London to discuss the changes to the commercial pricing structure of Fairtrade gold. The changes were designed to make Fairtrade gold a more commercial option. A kilogram of Fairtrade gold now has a fixed US$2,000 (£1,235) premium, which translates, for example, to about £25 extra per wedding ring.
Since last month’s meeting Fairtrade said it has been flooded with enquiries from jewellery brands and manufacturers asking how they can get on board with Fairtrade gold. Valerio said that the changes should make buying Fairtrade gold as easy and mainstream a choice as buying Fairtrade coffee and bananas.
The pricing changes have elicited a fresh wave of industry enthusiasm towards Fairtrade gold, and one of the largest UK jewellery manufacturers even has plans in the pipeline to change its offer to work exclusively with Fairtrade gold, automatically converting all existing gold jewellery products.
There is also the possibility that the first Fairtrade gold chain for necklaces will be available in the next 12 months, something that has not yet been available.
To support this growth, Fairtrade will launch a number of new initiatives in 2014, including the creation of a Small Jewellers Scheme that will allow independent designers to buy smaller quantities of Fairtrade gold for use in collections or commissions without the need for a full Fairtrade gold license. If, however, they exceed the 500g limit set by Fairtrade for the amount of gold bought and used under the scheme, they will have to apply for a full Fairtrade license, to which an annual service fee applies.
A further suggestion that came from the commercial stakeholders meeting on October 10 was to create a Fairtrade Ambassadors scheme for those interested in representing small-scale mining partners and the Fairtrade gold system. Valerio said this idea will be worked on in 2014 and could involve key figures in the UK jewellery industry.
This report was taken from the November issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue online in full, click here.