Why I use Fairtrade Gold
I am a Fairtrade Foundation-registered jeweller. The reason I use Fairtrade gold in my jewellery is because it ensures fair pay, a transparent and traceable supply chain and better health, safety and environmental standards for the miners and their communities.
Ninety per cent of gold miners around the world are small-scale miners. They often face hazardous conditions with insecure pits, a lack of protective equipment and a lack of knowledge about the dangers to their health and environment of using chemicals like mercury to process their gold.
The Fairtrade Foundation is working with small-scale miners to turn this situation around. A number of small-scale mines in Peru have received Fairtrade certification and the organisation is working with partners in East Africa to support small mining groups there. To achieve the Fairtrade standard the gold has to be responsibly mined, the processes inspected regularly by external auditors and the miners paid fairly. An additional 'Fairtrade Premium' is paid to mining groups and they then decide what development projects in their communities they invest that money into. These have included safer and more productive extraction systems as well as education, healthcare and environmental protection programmes.
Fairtrade gold can be traced from the mine, through the refining process to the raw material sold by the bullion companies. Its journey is fully documented along the way. This means when I work with it I can be sure it comes from a socially and environmentally responsible source.
The good news is that Fairtrade gold is being used more widely. Fairtrade silver is currently produced in very small quantities and is still hard to source. Hopefully it will become more available in the future and as demand for both grows, many more small-scale miners will benefit from the significant improvements that Fairtrade brings.