At Harriet Kellsall Bespoke Jewellery we endeavour to be as ethical in our jewellery making as we can and part of this involves encouraging customers to think about having their rings made in Fairtrade gold.
Using Fairtrade gold benefits mining communities around the world, particularly in South America where we get our Fairtrade gold from.
Artisanal and small scale mines, largely using un-mechanised methods for extraction and are owned by individuals or cooperatives, account for 20% of the worlds gold extraction, but 90% of the worlds gold mining labour – around 30 million people. Fairtrade gold always comes from these miners rather than large scale industrial mining. Across the world, over 100 million people are reliant on artisanal small scale mining including the miners themselves, their families and their communities who all benefit from the money earned from mining.
Fairtrade gold is traceable back to individual mines, so this gives customers a connection to real people, putting a human face to the gold rather than just a global gold market.
FINANCIAL BENEFITS FOR SMALL SCALE MINING COMMUNITIES
The miners receive a premium for the gold they mine which is given directly to the miners to spend on the things that the community most require, such as new school buildings or new more efficient or safer mining equipment.
The miners can expect a fair price for their gold and as they are directly responsible for the trade – they can therefore accept only the price they believe is fair. There is no middle man and so there is no extra cost to them, allowing them to fully benefit from their sales and trading. They are given the opportunity to trade and negotiate a price they feel comfortable with, rather than accepting a onetime only offer. This ethos helps eradicate exploitation and in some cases poverty. All they need to do is to continue to abide by the Fairtrade standards in gold mining.
MAKING MINING SAFER AND FAIRER
Unfortunately small scale Artisanal mines are usually characterised by poverty, exploitation, hazardous working conditions, use of dangerous chemicals, illegal operations as a result of denial of legal mining rights and markets controlled by local traders. BUT Fairtrade are working hard to make small scale mining safe, fair and directly beneficial to the mining community.
Fairtrade standards require the mines to follow strict health and safety regulations in order to make conditions safe for the miners to work in. There is no child labour within the mines and employees under the age of 18 are restricted to the areas in which they can work where there are no hazards or dangerous conditions. Women are encouraged to work in the mining community but are mostly employed in the sorting and extraction, rather than the mining.
Chemicals including cyanide and mercury are often used in extracting gold from the ore. These chemicals are extremely hazardous and the unskilled handling of them can cause severe medical issues for the miners and their families. The miners are unaware that the chemicals are hazardous and so do not take the precautions they should to reduce the risks. The Fairtrade foundation work to educate miners of the risks and help to provide equipment in order to safely handle chemicals. They also suggest and work to implement alternative methods for extraction which do not require these hazardous chemicals.
When mercury is used in extraction, almost all of it is released into the environment which causes many issues which affect local communities including making water supplies unusable.
Alongside these hazardous chemicals, there are pollutants produced in the mining and extraction processes which are released into the environment. The foundation are working to find ways to reduce emissions of pollutants to make mining a cleaner process for the environment.
All Fairtrade jewellery is hallmarked with the Fairtrade logo as an assurance that the gold within the item is Fairtrade. It is a legal mark to show that the jewellery has been approved by the Fairtrade foundation.
Between 2014 and 2015 Fairtrade gold sales increased by an incredible 259% which is great for the jewellery industry. We hope that the increase in Fairtrade sales for the last year have surpassed this extraordinary figure meaning that people around the world are continuing to support the communities whose lives are being improved by Fairtrade.
We have selected collections which are made as standard in Fairtrade gold so that we can offer Fairtrade to everyone, as well as being able to offer any bespoke jewellery in Fairtrade gold.