Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold Engagement Rings: A love story
It’s time to go on a global journey to discover the link between Fairtrade & Fairmined Gold and gorgeous, hand-crafted Fairtrade engagement rings.
When certified Fairtrade & Fairmined gold was officially launched on Valentine’s Day, 2011 it had been a long time coming. Many Fairtrade jewellers, such as luxury jeweller Ingle & Rhode, had been working passionately behind the scenes to help with the accreditation process so that certification could be gained through the UK’s Fairtrade Foundation.
What is Fairtrade & Fairmined gold?
Small-scale and artisanal miners provide the world with quality gold however they are often at risk of exploitation. Fairtrade & Fairmined gold certification ensures that miners receive a fair wage in good working conditions. They are independently audited to ensure there is no child labour and that the environment isn’t polluted during the extraction process.
A global journey
It took time for the certified gold to reach British shores and excitement swelled when the first shipment arrived. It was a celebratory moment for everyone at Ingle & Rhode to witness a wider availability of certified gold.
Ingle & Rhode received their gold from Peruvian gold producer AURELSA, which was the fourth gold producer to receive certification after a stringent independent audit process.
Tucked away in the Peruvian Ayacho region is a village called Relave. This village emerged in the mid 1980s when many families were forced to move and settle into this desert region after suffering from economic hardship and violence.
To make a livelihood, workers used old mine dumps known as tailings (or relaves) from former mining operations. Relave emerged as a small-scale mining community that formed an association in 1986.
It took more years for the government of Peru to recognise Relave as a formal settlement, but once it did the independent workers were able to work with the authorities to receive guidance on improving their mining practices. The community received some mining rights, joined together and invested time and money into what became known as AURELSA.
Every month these artisanal miners produce 3.5kg of pure gold. It’s estimated that 600 families in and around Relave benefit from this small-scale mining operation. AURELSA can now subsidise the village’s electricity and has helped establish a health centre and three schools that provide education to over 500 students.
There is still much to achieve and many trials to overcome, including improving processing methods and providing miners with training in trading so that they can work with overseas importers. Yet artisanal miners such as those in Relave are more resilient with a Fairtrade premium payment that is re-invested back into the community through a democratic process.
After campaigning for an industry certification for years ethical jewellers now have their own pure treasure, which can be used in custom engagement rings and fairtrade gold wedding rings.
Ingle & Rhode is one of a handful of ethical jewellers that are absolutely passionate about increasing the demand for Fairtrade and Fairmined gold so that many more producer communities reap the benefits. It’s simply a labour of love.
Ethical expert Jen Marsden is a freelance writer supporting Ingle & Rhode and is author of the Green Guide for Weddings (published in 2008).