Fairtrade & Fairmined GoldApril 24th 2012
Two years ago Fairtrade Standards for gold were developed in partnership with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM ) in Colombia. This was followed by the launch of the first Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold in the UK on Valentine's Day last year. A memorable date, especially in the jewellery making world!
It's amazing to think that the concept of 'fair trade' has been around for over 40 years with the UK now one of the world's leading Fairtrade markets, with more products and more awareness of Fairtrade than anywhere else.
Better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers, miners and other workers in the developing world are what Fairtrade is all about. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives
Despite the tough economic times UK shoppers are continuing to embrace Fairtrade, showing their commitment to ethical values
Making a difference
We were one of the first suppliers to choose to work with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold and became a FLO -CERT registered supplier in 2011. Victoria Waugh, Business Development Manager, Fairtrade Foundation says
"Jewellers buying Fairtrade and Fairmined gold from Cookson are supporting these miners to earn a fair price for the gold they mine, and to invest in community development projects such as education, health and environmental restoration".
The jewellery making industry is called on to support artisan miners by choosing to source certified gold for their business. Whilst the Fairtrade Foundation intends to build consumer awareness of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to help consumers better understand why buying jewellery marked with the dual stamp holds greater value and significance.
"Our aim this year is to focus on the bridal market and to grow awareness of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. We will do this in a number of ways including attending key events, updating our website with new materials and working with our church networks to educate brides to be about the significance of their choice of engagement and wedding ring."
adds Victoria Waugh.
Four mining groups, all in Latin America, have already been certified by Fairtrade and another two are expected to receive certification in the coming months. People living in the isolated Peruvian community of Santa Filomena, certified by the group a year ago, have used the premium they receive for their gold to invest in healthcare, extend its primary school and buy computers for older students.
Through the financial and developmental benefits of Fairtrade - including additional premium, prefinance 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. This year, the Fairtrade Foundation aims to expand the gold programme to small-scale mining group in Africa. The organisation will work with eight mining groups in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to address dangerous working practices and environmental damage in small-scale gold mining. Mining in Africa often involves the use of hazardous mercury, deforestation, poor working conditions and child labour. The group expects gold to arrive in the UK from Africa in the next two or three years.
Support is growing
The Fairtrade Foundation is currently working with 40 jewellers, almost double the number at the time of the launch. Last year also saw numerous bespoke commissions in Fairtrade Fairmined gold, including a number of pieces unveiled at high profile red carpet events both in the UK and the US. The Fairtrade Foundation reports that sales of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold bullion reached an estimated £700,000 in 2011.
Photography by Nigel Wright