Jewellery as an art form is so closely linked with the human experience, having been used throughout history to convey sentiment, love, wealth and power – and as my work is so directly inspired by this historical legacy it would almost seem disrespectful to use my materials callously.
There has always been a great deal of human exploitation and suffering inflicted in the quest for the creation of ‘beauty’. Unfairness may have been accepted, or ignored in the past, but now that we live in a world where knowledge is power and information is so accessible, we have a duty to exercise our freedom of choice and make positive changes where we can – it’s about being a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.
There is a tremendous sense of camaraderie in being part of the Fairtrade movement. We support each other and share information constantly I find it hugely inspiring to know that individual creativity can affect positive change and that collectively as jewellers, our voices can be heard.
The actual process of registering to become a Fairtrade gold licensee is more straightforward than you might think. There are numerous refining companies now registered, all offering an ever-increasing number of Fairtrade products and components and the recent launch of the Goldsmiths Registration Scheme has made it even easier to get involved no matter what your production capacity.
Another advantage of registering as a gold licensee is the immediate recognition that the FAIRTRADE Mark carries. It’s a trusted and understood logo that people immediately feel comfortable with. This is of tremendous benefit when trying to communicate a system of provenance to clients – they just get it straight away!
Often the only reassurance I need give is that the gold is of exactly the same quality as non-Fairtrade – the only difference is that there is a stamp that goes next to the hallmark proving that the origin of the metal and the circumstances under which it was mined are known.
That being said, there is still a long way to go before gold carries the same amount of consumer awareness as other Fairtrade products do. I am seeing an increase in the amount of customers coming to me requesting Fairtrade metal but it’s still a relatively small amount. So I’m very excited that Fashion Revolution has now welcomed jewellers into their campaign encouraging us to ask not only ‘Who made my clothes?’ but also ‘Who made my jewellery?’