Photo: Ute Decker
Twenty jewellers signed up this week (on Valentine's Day) to sell the world's first Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold. A new partnership between the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) will provide certified gold.
A Bolivian mining co-operative, Cotapata, is the first to be certified but more mines in Peru and Colombia are due to receive certification within the next couple of months.
Photo: the Telegraph
Twenty jewellers, including some big ones like Stephen Webster, Garrard and Ingle & Rhode have already agreed to sell the gold. The Fair Trade Foundation hopes to roll it out in other countries over the coming months and aims to capture at least five percent of the gold jewellery market by 2026.
The gold costs 10% more, but many jewellers stocking it will absorb the costs in the hope that consumer demand will slowly make it cheaper. More consumers are understanding the concept of "blood gold" and are willing to pay extra to ensure the provenance of their jewellery.
Ute Decker is one jeweller who is strongly behind the fairtrade gold initiative. She has launched a new collection, called PURE which is made of alluvial gold mined by artisanal miners without the use of chemicals. Throughout the entire process of creating her jewellery Decker is environmentally aware: her studio is powered by renewable energy, she only works with nontoxic chemicals, her packaging is recycled, her postcards are printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks and even her website is carbon neutral.
As always her jewellery has clean, minimalist lines but fits beautifully around the wrist or neck with its modern shapes.
Photo: the Telegraph
Working conditions in the mining business are appalling; with exploitative and unregulated labour practices. Approximately 15 million people work in small-scale mines around the world and many are exposed to highly toxic chemicals such as mercury. It then makes its way into local water supplies and affects families and children as well.
Under the Fairtrade and Fairmined system mine owners must adhere to a set of standards that guarantee the gold is produced in a safe environment. In return they get a set price for the gold as well as a premium. This ensures that workers are paid a fair wage and since the money goes back into the community living conditions are improved as well.