RAPAPORT… The world’s first independent, ethical certification system for responsibly mined gold –Fairtrade and Fairmined gold– is celebrating a first anniversary. The group estimated that retail sales in the U.K. of all Fairtrade products in 2011 rose 12 percent year on year to $2 billion (GPB 1.32 billion). Sales of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold bullion reached an estimated $1.1 billion (GBP 700,000) in 2011.
During its first year in the jewelry sector, the Fairtrade Foundation was able to land a spot on the “Green Carpet Challenge” at the 2011 Academy Awards. Four gold-mining organizations have become certified and an additional two are currently going through the inspection process and will enter the system in May. The organization’s efforts have laid the groundwork for ensuring that 350 kilograms of gold per year will soon be available for jewelers.
The other benefits from Fairtrade and Fairmined gold this past year were evident for the people living in the isolated Peruvian community of Santa Filomena. Sotrami, the first Peruvian mining organization to be certified, began working with Cred Jewellery in the U.K. and due to the Fairtrade premium, the community was able to invest in healthcare, build an extension to the primary school and purchase computers for the senior school. They opened a not-for-profit convenience store, which means the 500-strong community can buy food at reasonable prices.
Retailers and jewelers say customers have responded positively to the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold program and supplies of ethical gold are set to increase further. Thanks to a grant of $1.3 million (GBP 820,318) from Comic Relief over the next three years, the Fairtrade Foundation will be partnering with Fairtrade Africa, the Alliance for Responsible Mining and Solidaridad to develop gold supplies from artisanal and small-scale miners in Africa.
This grant program will work with eight mining groups in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to develop their technical skills to improve hazardous working conditions. Training will also concentrate on eliminating child labor and create a more democratic organization of the mining groups. This will mean that gold mined by impoverished African artisanal and small- scale miners can get into international markets through transparent supply chains.
In this second year, the project aims to raise consumer awareness of the challenges faced by the African miners as well as influence international public policy through the development of a network of civil society and local governments.
The Fairtrade Foundation’s business development manager, Victoria Waugh, said, ”We are very excited to celebrate the anniversary of the world’s first responsibly mined gold and are delighted that Comic Relief are making this hugely significant investment which gives a real opportunity to some of the world’s poorest miners in Africa.
”Through the financial and developmental benefits of Fairtrade – including additional premium, pre-finance and long-term business relations with traders – even more producers have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty and create sustainable livelihoods for their families and communities,” Waugh said.
The foundation is asking the industry to support artisanal miners by choosing to source certified gold for their business. Furthermore, the group calls upon consumers to make an important transition and only buy gold jewelry that is marked with the dual Fairtrade and Fairmined stamp.
Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold in Retail
The Fairtrade Foundation is currently working with 40 jewelers and has licensed 591 individual jewelry pieces plus several entire collections. New companies which have come on board since the launch include Cool Diamonds, Charles Green, Anna Loucah, Steven Einhorn, Samantha Salmons, Jessica Poole, Hattie Rickards, Dale Aldington-Hunt, Oak Fine Jewellery, September Rose, Melville Fine Jewellery, Arabel Lebrusan, Kaanaanmaa, Pravins, Diana Porter Jewellery, Alex Monroe, Lynsey Pluck, Regal Jewellery, Erica Sharpe, Good as Gold and Vipa Designs.
Retail Success Stories
Anna Loucah Fine Jewellery designed the first Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to be seen on the red carpet in 2011, which led to the development of the designer’s new “Sacred” collection. Sacred will also feature a full line of engagement rings later in the year made from Fairtrade and Fairmined ecological gold with diamonds, the pieces have a geometric feel and feature kinetic elements. www.annaloucah.com.
Cred Jewellery has signed an exclusive manufacturing and licensing partnership with British bridal jewelry manufacturer Brown & Newirth. Their Fairtrade and Fairmined gold wedding rings were launched in February and will be available under both the Cred and Brown & Newirth brand names. www.credjewellery.com
Specialist diamond jewelry brand, Cool Diamonds is now offering customers the choice of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold when ordering designs in store and through their website www.cooldiamonds.com.
Wedding ring and jewelry manufacturer Charles Green created an 18-karat bridal collection in Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. The range includes engagement rings with matching-fit plain and diamond-set wedding rings. www.charles-green.com.