Above photograph - Nueva Esperanza miners association Peru - © Nigel Wright
At Audrey Claude Jewellery we’re proud to be licensees for Fairtrade Gold and as such are able to offer you the option of having your jewellery, be it wedding rings, an engagement ring or a special jewellery gift to be made in Fairtrade gold. But what is Fairtrade gold and what does it mean. Here are some Fairtrade gold facts which should help:
Did you know that to extract the gold for 250 wedding bands it takes around 60 people working shifts of 24 hours a day for 12 days. Since a lot of jewellery symbolises an important emotional commitment it is important for us to know miners have not been harmed extracting the gold, and that it has actually improved their lives. It makes the symbol much more meaningful.
Fairtrade Gold was launched in 2011 and was worlds first independent ethical certification scheme for gold. Fairtrade Gold is the term given to gold that has been mined, processed and traded in accordance with the Fairtrade standards for precious metals. Mines must be organised and have the legal right to mine on a piece of land.
All miners and businesses buying and selling Fairtrade Gold are audited by an independent audit company checking that the standards are met, this includes processing the Fairtrade Gold separately from other sources of metal. It comes mainly from certified mines in Peru and Fairtrade is working with mining communities in East Africa to help them become Fairtrade Certified. In 2016 two mines in Uganda and Kenya achieved certification.
Fairtrade gold can mean miners learn how to work in safer conditions - e.g. being taught the dangers of handling mercury. Unregulated mines can be linked to exploitation, human rights abuses, damage to the environment and can harm health. Fairtrade supports miners to organise themselves into co-operatives. By doing this they can become reorganised as legal businesses, manage money better and make sure decisions about their business are made fairly. Working together miners have more power when it comes to negotiating with buyers. They can combine the gold they mine and larger volumes of gold are easier to sell internationally.
Miners have to be paid at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price - this is set at 95% of the price at which gold is traded on international markets and bought by jewellery manufacturers. Miners are getting paid what he gold is actually worth and is substantially higher than the price many receive when selling to local traders. On top of the Minimum Price, miners are also paid the Fairtrade Premium - this is a sum of money they can spend on their communities or businesses. The Premium is set at USD$2000 per kg of gold. Miners choose how to spend it based on what their communities needs most.
Fairtrade Gold empowers miners to work their way out of poverty. Buying Fairtrade Gold means miners can invest in projects to improve their communities such as healthcare, a better water supply and access to education.
Did you know that 20% of miners in South America are women. Fairtrade has supported some of them to become more financially independent. In Santa Filomena, Peru, women miners have formed the Neuva Esperanza Association - New Hope. The women have used the Fairtrade Premium to setup a sewing workshop to make the sacks they use to collect rocks. The association also has a nursery where women can leave their children while they work.
Fairtrade mines can currently only produce a small amount of gold. Some comes from recycled sources and and some from large scale mines. Of the 60% of newly mined gold only 20% is from Artisanal and Small scale mining. Recycled gold accounts for 40% of demand and comes from melted down jewellery or waste material from the jewellery, electronic and dental industries. Although not newly mined there is no way to guarantee where or how it was originally mined.
The Fairtrade Gold stamp is a guarantee that the gold was responsibly mined and the miners were paid a fairer price. Below is a bespoke engagement ring with the Fairtrade stamp added by Assay office alongside the hallmarks.
So is there a difference between Fairtrade gold and other sources of gold? No is the answer to that, there is no physical difference between Fairtrade Gold and other sources of gold.
Using ethically sourced materials is important to us at Audrey Claude Jewellery - from the metal we choose to the gemstones set into the jewellery. We work hard to do our best to ensure that we do what we can to help better the lives and environments of the people and places that provide us with with the materials to make you beautiful pieces of fine jewellery.