Ethical gold gilt weathervane is a world first.
A team of steeplejacks yesterday fitted a weathervane with a difference to the top of Chichester Cathedral – a gilded cockrel crafted with Fairtrade Fairmined gold.
The occasion marks a collaboration between Chichester Cathedral, CRED Jewellery and the Fairtrade Foundation, who crowned the 277ft spire with the world’s first public decoration in Fairtrade Fairmined gold.
The gold covering the weathervane was responsibly sourced by Chichester’s CRED Jewellery from the Sotrami Mine in Peru.
The 3ft cockerel-shaped weathervane was fitted after a team climbed 131ft, scaling 205 steps to reach a scaffold surrounding the spire.
The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling, Dean of Chichester said the project was important: “Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold provides a lifeline for thousands of impoverished and exploited miners in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
“If every jeweller and indeed every customer were to insist on only gold sourced in this way then thousands of small scale miners, and their communities, would be guaranteed a better future. The cost of this project has been borne by a private donor to whom we are very grateful, but the wider ambitions of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold are priceless.”
Chichester’s CRED have been pivotal to the realisation of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold. They were the first UK jewellery retail to work in ethical gold and have led proceedings with the launch of the Fairtrade Fairmined mark that took place in February this year.
The Fairtrade Fairmined gold used on the weathervane was sent to Italy to be turned into gold leaf by Florence-based company Manetti, one of oldest remaining companies in Europe still turning gold into gold leaf.
The gold leaf used to gild the cockerel is just 8 microns thick – 1 micron being 1000th of a millimetre – and is made out of 23.5 carat gold, having been combined with a fraction of copper during the leaf-making process.
CRED founder and ethical campaigner Greg Valerio is a Chichester resident; he was photographed outside of the cathedral earlier this year, as part of the Professional Jeweller Hot 100.
The weathervane was removed from the spire for refurbishment earlier this year, as part of a five yearly survey of the spire. Chichester Cathedral costs £1,000 a day to maintain and is regarded as a place where ancient-meets-modern, housing artworks by the likes of Marc Chagall, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland.