What improvements did you see in the UK jewellery industry last year regarding responsible sourcing?
It’s hard to see improvements because they are so small, but people are talking more about how, when and what they might do. If you speak to people like Alan Frampton at Cred and Vivien at Fifi Bijoux about their ranges you will hear some amazing growth stories, so the consumers are coming. I also had the great privilege last year of visiting a couple of Fairtrade mines in Peru. I saw first-hand the differences for the communities between isolated artisan mining and those who have formed supportive communities benefiting the families as well as the miners themselves. But we still have a very long way to go.
How do you think the UK jewellery industry can work together to become more ethically responsible?
By talking to each other and keeping the awareness up. Small steps from everyone can help to create an impact, from sourcing all the way through to consumer awareness about the products we are buying. It will take some time but we need to ask more questions about jewellery, where it’s from, what it’s made of and how has been procured. We need to start thinking about how we can contribute to making our industry more honest and open.
We also need to look really hard at how we price our products that are from responsible sources. Should each of us, manufacturer, supplier, retailer and consumer all contribute? Too often I see the premiums loaded at the back end, which means the consumer carries the entire burden of their choice in buying something responsibly sourced. I just had a two second chat with our auditors in the car park, they think that the fairtrade premium could be treated as a charity donation by a business. Check with your own accountants but if that were true would you be prepared to absorb some of the premium reducing the retail price rather than pass it on to the consumer?
What can attendees expect from your seminar?
I hope for a lively discussion that will attempt to break the vicious circle currently where the retailers say “no one asks for ethically sourced product”, “Oh people won’t pay the premiums” and the manufacturers and suppliers saying “the retailers don’t want to buy, they aren’t interested”.
What do you hope attendees will be able to take away from the panel discussions?
I would love everyone to be inspired to look at ways in their own businesses that might give better choice to the end consumer and perhaps more importantly so that in future the attendees can look in the mirror and know they are doing what they can for others.
You know in the end what we are going to learn from the Gen Zs is that not every choice you make should be commercial, sometimes you just need to make the right choice for the planet and the people living on it.