RAPAPORT… A number of jewelers were licensed to offer Fairtrade and Fairmined gold products including Garrard, CRED, Fifi Bijoux, Ingle & Rhode, and Harriet Kelsall of the U.K. and Fair Trade Jewellery Company (FTJCo) of Toronto. Collections and one-off pieces including wedding and engagement rings, earrings and necklaces were made available this week. All the pieces are hallmarked with the FAIRTRADE Mark and Fairmined Mark, the stamp of reassurance that the miners are getting a better deal on their metal.
Gold Fairtrade ambassador Livia Firth said, ”We associate gold with love and beauty but there is often nothing beautiful about the way that gold is produced. Tens of millions of small-scale gold miners risk their lives in often appalling conditions and get a raw deal for their strenuous efforts.”
The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold in the U.K. on February 9, provided the beginnings of a movement that provides a lifeline for thousands of impoverished small-scale and artisanal miners across Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru who find themselves battling unfair markets. Many face exploitation from middle-men who pay below market prices and cheat them on weight and purity of gold content, according to the group.
The Fairtrade International (FLO) stated that more than 100 million people are impacted directly or indirectly by artisanal and small-scale mining. Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is mined in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner, creating a path of independence and resilience for mining communities such as the Condoto community –partners in the Oro Verde ‘Green Gold’ initiative– of Colombia, and a verifiable source of ecological gold for artisan jeweler and artist communities worldwide.
The Condoto miners do not use toxic chemicals such as cyanide or mercury and Oro Verde’s environmentally friendly approach is balanced with tangible incentives and rewards for minimum-impact practices. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between community members who are prospecting and extracting the metals and the sellers and buyers of the raw metal. At the end of the supply chain, jewelers and their clients can enjoy stamps of assurance – that these final products carry the certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold marks.
Ryan Taylor, founder of FTJCo, added, “It’s extremely important to the Chocó communities and the rest of the jewelry buying world that we return to a tradition of handcrafted, artisan goods that are ecologically beneficial for each stop on the supply chain. This has been a six year journey to explore where and how our metals originated, and through our relationship with the Oro Verde program, now we can be certain that our mined metals have not caused harm, and will in fact contribute to the economic and environmental vitality of this pioneering community.”
Américo Mosquera, one of the Oro Verde miners, said, “I think this project, which works towards the future, can be one of the bases for the continuous development of the Chocó communities.”
Becoming part of the Fairtrade and Fairmined system also means that miners will receive a set Fairtrade minimum price for their gold, plus the Fairtrade premium to invest in community and business development projects. Plans include improving working conditions at the mines and setting up community projects in education, health, and environmental restoration.
Jenny Torres Delgado, a, 27-year-old miner from Peru, said, ”I would ask the people in the U.K. to understand that when they buy our gold, they’ll be doing a good thing and helping many women who work hard and have to struggle to get the gold.”
The Fairtrade Foundation will collaborate with the U.K.’s largest consumer jewelry event, London Jewellery Week, June 6-12, 2011, to celebrate the launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold at Ethical Jewellery Pavilion Essence, the international collective showcasing the best designers in the emerging ethical movement.
The following full list of Fairtrade gold licensees took part in the launch:
Amanda Li Hope
Harriet Kelsall Jewellery
Ingle and Rhode
Pippa Small Jewellery
Ute Decker Sculptural Jewellery