Dedication to ethical jewellery made this campaigner a Trailblazer.
Nominations are now closed and the Hot 100 photographers are out taking shots for the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers and supported by gold partner Ti Sento at this very minute, but those chosen won’t be unveiled until September. Until then we are looking back to the leading lights of the jewellery industry who made it into the Hot 100 2011 and today we are paying homage to ethical jewellery pioneer Greg Valerio who was an Aagaard Trailblazer.
Greg Valerio has been a campaigner of some sort or another for decades, but most recently he has focused his attentions on the jewellery industry.
In 1996 he founded CRED Jewellery, the ethical jewellers in Chichester, and this year he reached a major milestone in his career as he played an instrumental role in the creation of the Fairtrade Fairmined standard for gold, not to mention winning The Observer Ethical Award for Global Campaigner of the Year 2011.
Greg’s consistent outspokenness about injustices in the global jewellery industry and his lobbying for change has hugely contributed to the changes in perception of ethical practices and choice in the jewellery industry.
“Without a doubt, my biggest achievement of this year has been the launch of certified Fairtrade Gold,” says Greg. “This has been the culmination of over 10 years worth of work and advocacy and at last our industry has a gold product it can trust and be proud of.”
As well as working with the Fairtrade Foundation, Greg has also been working closely with the British Jewellers’ Association and the National Association of Goldsmiths to help bolster the trade’s understanding of ethical options.
In a bid to break through to what he calls “the corporate big boys”, Greg has been involved in some high-profile campaigns, appearing on national radio shows and on television, but hopes that at the end of the day it is the message that matters, not the hype. “After all, a pound of truth is worth a million pounds of PR,” he says.
With Fairtrade gold ticked off his list Greg will begin creating jewellery, launching his own Valerio brand and will start work with a documentary filmmaker telling the story of the gold industry and how it impacts human rights.
Dealing with such issues could make daily matters seem trivial but Greg says he manages to “keep things in glorious Technicolour” through prayer, time with his children and undertaking an MA in Celtic studies “just for the hell of it”.
This interview was taken from the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2011. Nominations for 2012’s edition are now closed and this year’s list and photographs will be unveiled at an exclusive invite-only party at The Freemason’s Hall in London on September 4. To find out how you can get invitations as a sponsor email firstname.lastname@example.org.