About Fairtrade Gold
One of the most enjoyable aspects of wearing a hand crafted piece of jewellery is knowing who made it and where. Jewellery made with Fairtrade Gold can only add to this connection, its transparent supply chain is traceable right back to an individual mining community. Fairtrade guarantees jewellery has been created from start to finish in fairer, safer, happier conditions.
This is why all our 18ct gold wedding rings are made from Fairtrade certified gold. Our bespoke designs, 9ct gold and sterling silver pieces are made where possible in Fairtrade precious metals or from 100% recycled metal which we feel is the best alternative.
Fairtrade empowers workers and small-scale farming and mining operations in the developing world through trade not aid.
90% of the labour force involved in mining gold come from marginalised communities, it is estimated that 100 million people are dependent on the income from small-scale artisinal mining. Conditions are tough, work is labour intensive using only basic machinery, and it can be hazardous to the miners health and the delicate eco systems where gold is found. Often working in remote areas miners have to deal with middle-men to get their product onto the market struggling to get a fair price.
The implications of these working practices can be alarming, however, to stop buying mined minerals would leave the communities who rely on mining for their income in an even more vulnerable situation. It is these communities who can benefit from Fairtrade.
Choosing a piece of jewellery made with Fairtrade Gold guarantees it has been mined responsibly and that the miners have received a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price (if the international gold price increases above this minimum the miners will always receive the higher price) plus a premium. The Fairtrade Premium is used by the mining communities to invest in their business and on community projects such as education, clean water or healthcare. Thus giving them control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.
How Fairtrade works –
To become a certified Fairtrade producer small scale mining operations must meet stringent Fairtrade Standards regarding health and safety, workers rights and the development of responsible environmental practices. Once these standards have been met the miners can start to benefit from the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium.
Having been mined by a Fairtade producer the gold moves through the international supply chain, at all points it is kept separate from other ores. All mines, traders and companies within the Fairtrade system, including us, must meet the Fairtrade Standards and are independently evaluated by FLOCERT an international auditor who’s role it is to verify the credibility of Fairtrade products. You can follow this link to find out more on how Fairtrade Standards are set.
FLOCERT also track the gold’s progress through the international market by mapping each stage keeping the supply chain transparent.
As a Fairtrade licencee we are able to stamp the finished piece of jewellery with the Fairtrade certified Gold Stamp, which assures our customers that the miners who produced the gold are getting a fair deal for their work, you can find the Fairtrade Stamp next to the hallmark.
Making a difference
It’s very exciting seeing the difference Fairtrade can make to workers lives, not only through better working conditions but crucially how they use the Fairtrade Premium to improve their futures. The Fairtrade Premium for gold is currently $2 per gram of gold imported and is usually spent on small but life changing actions like improving healthcare or to enabling families to send their children to school.
An example of a Fairtrade success story is the Sotrami Mining Organisation in the Atacama Desert, Central Peru.
SOTRAMI is the largest Fairtrade certified gold mine. 300 miners work in a hard-rock mine on the side of a mountain. Often tunneling to deep levels so that air must be pumped from the surface to ensure miners can work safely.
The mine gained Fairtrade certification in May 2011 a process that took 4 years. During that time the workers made important steps to meet the Fairtrade Standards, formalizing operations and investing in infrastructure.
A road was built to help transport a clean safe supply of water something which is still a challenge working in a desert region 2,000m above sea level.
They also established a pre-school for 140 local children, providing access to education and somewhere safe for the kids whilst their parents are working.
Since 2011 the community has used the Fairtrade Premium on a variety of initiatives. Such as …
Connecting local schools and medical centres to the electricity mains.
A fund has been set up to provide health care to those without insurance.
Investing in a 4x4 ambulance to get to emergencies quickly on the rough terrain.
The Sotrami mine and the local community are flourishing their hard work benefitting from consumer choices we make.
For more information on Fairtrade visit the Fairtrade Foundation website.
Photos by Nigel Wright.