The Pioneers: Working with Fairtrade Gold

The designers and brands leading the way with Fairtrade gold design.

In February this year, the Fairtrade Foundation announced the names of the 20 designers and brands that will be the first jewellers in the world to work with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold here in the UK. Find out how they plan to incorporate the ethical metal into their work.

Amanda Li Hope
Amanda Li Hope has only been in business for little more than year. She says that she is planning to use the gold to make her XX and YY jewellery collections, which feature simple elegant shapes. She also says that she has plans to create a “long overdue” wedding ring collection, adding: “After all, this is the best gold story around and what better way to celebrate new nuptials and lifelong partnerships?” Li Hope has been accumulating a small collection of ethically sourced rubies and sapphires to use in the designs.

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April Doubleday
April Doubleday is an ethical jeweller working on the north coast of Devon on bespoke commissions. Doubleday has been using ethically sourced gold from a Colombian mine for the past five years which is now certified, so in March she will create her first piece of Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological jewellery. Doubleday has 60g of 18ct gold and says she will use this to create wedding, engagement and civil partnership collections.

Caratess launched its Distinctive Animal collection at IJL in September and will now create this collection using Fairtrade gold. The brand is an ethical champion and all of its jewellery is alreasy made using ethical materials from Oro Verde in Columbia. Caratess designer Christine Lawrence says: “Given that the nature of our designs is a celebration of the natural world, it seemed only right to produce them using materials produced with the intention of preserving the environment as much as possible.” Lawrence says that Caratess will continue its relationship with Oro Verde through its manufacturers Vipa Designs within the Fairtrade licence agreement.

CRED Jewellery
Cred Jewellery has been a pioneer of ethical jewellery for many years and was an obvious name on the inaugural list of Fairtrade jewellers. It has teamed up with jewellery designer Annaloucah to use its Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold to create a bracelet and earrings for Colin Firth’s wife Livia Firth to wear at the Oscars. It will also create a limited-edition collection of 10 rings for London Jewellery Week and boss Christian Cheeseman said it will launch of its first wholesale collection.

EC One
London retailer EC One will go down in history as the first jeweller to have a piece of Fairtrade gold jewellery hallmarked. Owner Jos Skeates used the gold to create a simple men’s wedding band, saying he didn’t want a complicated design to interfere with the message.

Element Jewellery
Element Jewellery held a launch for its Fairtrade gold collections during Fairtrade Fortnight at the end of February at its shop in Hebden Bridge, hosted by Cred founder Greg Valerio. To tempt shoppers through the doors the retailer offered free refreshments and discounts of up to 15 percent on all Fairtrade gold jewellery.

Fifi Bijoux
Fifi Bijoux is well engrained in the ethical jewellery trade. Designer Vivien Johnston runs her ethical brand from a sustainable farm and wildlife resort in Scotland and worked with the National Association of Goldsmiths to form an ethics working committee. She says that Fifi Bijoux will use Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold for a special range of wedding wings. She says: “Once the mining projects we already work with are all certified, hopefully very soon, the whole range can be certified from the point we introduce the initial batch of certified gold grain across our production.”

Foundation Jewellery
Foundation Jewellery describes itself as a luxury ethical jeweller and its products are currently stocked at Jacobs of Reading and CS Bedfords in Ruislip. It only uses diamonds that are 100 percent traceable through the CanadaMark brand and up until now has been offering its customers recycled gold only. Now that the company has taken on Fairtrade gold it will offers its customers a choice between recycled gold and Fairtrade gold.

Garrard, under the direction of creative director Stephen Webster, will introduce Fairtrade gold as an option in its wedding jewellery category. The historic jewellery house and creator of the most talked about engagement ring this year, the one now belonging to Kate Middleton, prides itself on being an innovator in the bridal market. The house claims to have introduced the six-prong setting to the market in 1897 and the three-stone ring in 1901, both of which have become bridal classics, so its involvement in Fairtrade wedding jewellery will no doubt prompt a few followers.

Harriet Kelsall
Harriet Kelsall is a jewellery designer based in Hertfordshire. Since the business started 10 years ago, the team at Harriet Kelsall have been passionate about making jewellery responsibly. The business is a member of the responsible Jewellery Council and has strived to use ethically sourced gemstones, conflict-free diamonds and can now offer Fairtrade gold. And Kelsall has a quirky way to push the premium that will be added to Fairtrade gold – she is likening it to the price of a takeaway for the family, or a meal out for a pricier carat, which is not, she says, too much to part with to be happy in the knowledge that your jewellery purchase is helping other families.

Ingle & Rhode
Ingle & Rhode is an ethical jeweller based in Mayfair, London, that has strives to offer ethical jewels that do not compromise on design. The jeweller plans to mix its Fairtrade gold with ethically sourced gem stones and is also going to create a short film exploring what fairness means today to mark the occasion. Founder David Rhode says: “The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold represents everything we stand for, that creating jewellery without causing suffering is possible.”

John Titcombe
John Titcombe is a wedding jewellery specialist and claims to have more than 600 engagement rings in stock at any one time at its shops in Cirenster and Bristol. The jeweller will be using its Fairtrade gold to further this wedding offer. With the first collection expected to be completed in March, John Titcombe will at first use existing designs when working with Fairtrade gold but has plans to create special designs exclusively for the ethical metal.

Arabel Lebrusan / Leblas
Designer Arabel Lebrusan, former creative director of Leblas jewellery, is now running her own jewellery brand under her name, but has been making waves with her approach to creating contemporary jewellery with sustainable practices. Arabel Lebrusan collections will use Fairtrade gold to switch all of its wedding jewellery collections to Fairtrade gold. Lebrusan will also create a heart motif collection of non-wedding jewellery using 18ct Fairtrade gold and ethical Canadian diamonds.

Linnie McLarty
Linnie McLarty has designed two new jewellery collections, called Discreetly Bizarre and Bizarrely Enough, and will be offering bespoke versions of pieces from these lines in Fairtrade Fairmined gold. The designer, who opened an ethical jewellery pop-up shop in London in February with fellow Fairtrade gold jeweller Ute Decker, created gold-plated silver versions of the designs to show to customers in anticipation of receiving her Fairtrade gold.

Oria is an ethical jewellery brand that uses responsibly sourced materials to create fashion-forward designs. Before Fairtrade gold, the brand either designed in recycled silver or gold sourced from small alluvial cooperative mines in Argentina that do not use toxic substances.

Pippa Small
Pippa Small has been working with the same mine for 24 years to source ethically viable gold, but now that the mine has achieved Fairtrade certification she can officially create Fairtrade Fairmined gold collections. In the past, Small has made gemstones the hero of her pieces but is now planning to make gold drops the hero, presenting it like a gemstone., a topic explored in our gold trends feature. The new lines feature pebbles of Fairtrade gold attached to rings, strings and chains.

Stephen Webster
Stephen Webster will use his Fairtrade gold for wedding jewellery initially, but is not ruling out the possibility of extending the use of Fairtrade gold to some of his mainstream collections as bespoke editions. He says that should a customer demand it, and he says he is confident that some of his clients will, then he will use his allocation to make special Fairtrade editions of classic Stephen Webster designs. He also says that the brand will swallow the 10 percent price increase of Fairtrade gold. He adds: “We don’t want price to be the reason not to choose a more responsible product.”

Ute Decker
Ute Decker is a pioneering ethical jeweller and in the past has worked mostly in recycled silver, but now she will use Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold to create a range of sculptural jewellery called Pure. The handcrafted pieces of jewellery will be available an a commission basis. In February Decker opened an ethical jewellery pop-up shop in London in partnership with Linnie McLarty, where she held a launch party attended by some of the Fairtrade miners.

Jon Dibben
Jon Dibben, a jeweller based in Surrey, has decided to buck the trend for using Fairtrade gold in wedding collections and instead has decided to use his first lot of Fairtrade gold to create show-stopping pieces of jewellery. The first piece he is working on is a ring with a large 15ml central turquoise-green tourmaline with smaller tourmalines of a similar colour spilling round the finger.

Weston Beamor
Weston Beamor used its stand at The Jewellery Show to let the trade know about its involvement in Fairtrade gold by inviting some of the miners from a newly certified Fairtrade gold mine to the show. Weston Beamor director Yvonne Brookes said: “It is wonderful that we begin to understand both sides. We work with gold every single day but we have no understanding of the work it has taken to get it out of the ground.”

This article was taken from the March 2011 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. See the whole edition by clicking here.



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