Guilt-free gold

The new Fairtrade and Fairmined mark makes it easy to buy jewellery you'll be proud to wear for life

This year, 14 February was distinguished by more than a rise in florists’ profits. It was the date chosen for the announcement that 22 British jewellers, including ethical pioneers CRED who are based in Chichester, would be launching gold certified Fairtrade and Fairmined. The news is welcome to anyone thinking about purchasing commitment jewellery: after all, who wants to wear metal of dubious provenance for the rest of their life? Fairtrade ambassador Livia Firth, who wore Fairtrade jewellery by Brighton designer Annaloucah ( to the Oscars, 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 UK is the second largest gold jewellery market in Europe after Italy, and the scheme is being rolled out here before being introduced to the international market with the aim of capturing 5 per cent of the market over a 15 year period. The minimum price for Fairtrade pure gold is 95 per cent of the international agreed price, as opposed to the norm of 30-85 per cent. An estimated 15 million people work in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector and they frequently risk disease, injury and even death. Child labour is not unusual and poor working conditions are compounded by toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury which are used in the gold mining process. Fairtrade and Fairmined accreditation means that miners will receive an additional 5 per cent premium for gold mined without the use of chemicals which not only ensures that miners receive a fair price for their work but that the mining process is carried out in an environmentally responsible manner. For Christian Cheesman, Business Director of long-term Fairtrade campaigners CRED Jewellery, this is a momentous step: “It's job done for us really!” he laughs. “The 22 licence holders are registered with the Fairtrade Foundation and can produce jewellery which bears the dual stamp. There are some well-known designers involved which encourages awareness and broadens demand. It’s pretty simple for jewellers to register – you just need to get in touch with the Fairtrade Foundation and go through the process. There’s no excuse now, really!”Fairtrade and Fairmined jewellery is distinguishable by its dual stamp, not dissimilar in appearance to a hallmark. Nicky Goodman, co-director of Goodman Morris in Brighton, will be offering Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to her clients. “Accreditation is a really positive thing, and a step in the right direction. I think if we all take little steps in the right direction we will eventually improve ethics within the jewellery trade. It would be great if fairly traded and recycled materials, along with good working practice and fair wages for all, became the industry standard. “Goldsmiths, silversmiths and gem cutters have been using their craftsmanship for thousands of years, and in developing countries these skills can offer life-changing opportunities that should not be underestimated.”

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