Six years ago Fairtrade gold was launched in London, and now the mining communities working with the foundation are reaping the rewards. Cred Jewellery director, Alan Frampton, reports…
In February 2011 Fairtrade gold was launched in London.
After several years working hard getting accreditation a few companies led the vanguard into a new era.
The great problem in the jewellery world is that large companies have prevented transparent and responsible sourcing because they could not face up to the challenge.
Small scale miners kept in poverty earning $2 a day supplying multinational large scale corporations. It is reminiscent of eighteenth century Britain a world of Colonial exploitation.
Well no longer.
The good news is that young buyers and forward thinking companies have grasped their responsibilities and are joining the many outlets for Fairtrade gold. It is the best standard in the world by a considerable margin. The mines, the refiners, the production facilities and the retailers are all accredited and have to report on usage. There is no other system in the jewellery industry that is as coherent as this.
What is really so good about Fairtrade gold is that at the mines they have to comply with high standards of health and safety, no child labour and environmental best practice. In fact Macdesa one of the Fairtrade gold mines in Peru won the coveted National safety award for best practice in Peru this year.
These communities benefit from a $2000 a kilo social premium for working to these high standards. They have to have a democratically elected community committee who decide how the premium should be invested.
Fairtradegold is now working. Mining communities are developing fast. Living conditions are improving. Education and health are improving. The premium is being used to pay teachers at the school, building better cooking facilities at the village refectory, micro financing new job initiatives for women in the communities. Most important of all is that availability is improving… up to 100Kgs a month from Peru alone next year.
Since 2011 Cred Jewellery has imported all the Fairtade gold into the UK. We have visited the mines every six months and watched as this had a massive impact on the villages that the gold comes from.
Over $400,000 has been paid in Fairtrade premiums to help the social development.
Where we were buying 3-5Kgs per shipment four-five years ago this year we are bringing in 15-20Kg shipments.
To the retailer it gives the best practice of known source to their markets. In this age of fashion where ethical sourcing is very much at the forefront of development even the big brands are getting involved.
Only last week Stacey Dooley presented a great documentary on the BBC about the appalling abuses committed by poor sourcing.
This is an opportunity for jewellers.
At the International Jewellery London this year there were many outlets offering Fairtrade gold….Hockley Mint, Domino, Cooksonsgold, Viper designs, Cuteis Chains and Stephen Betts to name but a few.
Then there are nearly 200 jewellers who have signed up to use the material.
This is just the UK. Fairtrade gold is growing fast in Germany, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland , Australia and starting in the USA.
Jewellers beware though….there are new accreditation systems in the jewellery industry that purport to be robust.
Greenwashing and ethical babble is awash in our industry.
People who say they are ethical and yet would not bear scrutiny. The industry has to go to best practice and ask everyone in the supply chain to prove the provenance of the materials they use.
Lots of high street companies are doing this now. Even Nike and Marks and Spencer have transparent supply chains which you can see online. Why are we the poorest in the High Street to adapt?
It will happen, consumers are asking more questions, sales are growing faster than ever before…
Fairtrade gold may be relatively small but it’s making a difference.
If you don’t think small things matter… try spending the night with a mosquito!