Ethical wedding rings and more so ethical gold. These are words that don’t immediately look like they belong together, one is a mined precious metal and the other, a word used a lot by charities or PR spokespeople for social media companies. So what is ethical gold and how can you truly have an ethical wedding ring? In short ethical gold and diamonds are sourced from mining practices where child labour, unsafe working environments, mercury poisoning and general exploitation aren’t present.
Mining in Africa has taken place for a long time, the British started Gold mining there around 1886. Between 1903 and 1973 42,000 men died in the mines 90% of which were African. Things have changed marginally but to unfurl more recent stories for context, a South African company named Aurora failed to pay the salaries of hundreds of miners just a few years ago despite at the time donating huge sums to political parties; abandoned mines around South Arica have also seen mostly undocumented workers (estimates of around 14 000) from neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique brought in to work in terrible conditions run by criminal syndicates.
Gold mined in exploited or conflict areas can and does find it’s way easily into the market. The social impact of gold mining is still huge and will only really change when consumers start becoming more aware of how mining affects communities. So how can you go about ensuring you own ethical gold? The good news is there is now Fairtrade Gold and it’s leading a movement that makes it’s gold fully traceable and it’s doesn’t impact cost or quality. Demand for ethical gold is growing. Currently the jewellery industry as a whole has little interest in the supply chain and very few jewellers know where their metals come from. Here at Audrey Claude we're doing our part to change that and only use gold that is either Fairtrade gold or recycled, you can read more about Fairtrade gold here.
With more freely available information and societies general shift to more ethical sourcing of materials and products we hope that soon these unacceptable practices will cease - in the mean time ensuring you choose to wear Fairtrade gold or recycled gold will help, and hopefully give you a warm glow inside knowing that your small decision will help in bringing a positive shift for the miners. If you have any questions about your ethical wedding rings we would love to hear from you?