Fairmined Gold: The Gold Standard of Ethical Jewellery
Fairmined Gold is pretty much what it sounds like — gold that was mined fairly. In other words, it comes directly from responsible and artisanal small scale mining organisations. Why is this important? If you know anything about the ethics of the jewellery industry (or if you’ve watched acclaimed 2006 Leo DiCaprio flick, “Blood Diamond”) you know there have been some murky dealings when it comes to sourcing precious metals. Gold mining, in particular, has been a nexus of child labour, gender inequality and severe worker exploitation. The Fairmined “assurance label” means that none of that exploitation went into sourcing your gold. Instead, it comes from small scale organisations whose rights are protected by ARM (Alliance for Responsible Mining).
A wise man once said, “all that glitters is not gold.” This may be the case, but gold is still super glittery (and beautiful and awesome). And we think everyone is entitled to some bling. But before investing in a meaningful gold ring or bangle, everyone also needs to have the facts.
Here’s what you need to know about Fairmined Gold:
History of the Ethical Mining Movement
Within the past two decades, there’s been an increasing awareness about the evils of the mining industry. In 2006, the New York Times published an article called, “With This Ethical Ring I Thee Wed.” The publicity surrounding unethically mined gold meant that many leading retailers immediately signed the “No Dirty Gold” pledge. “No Dirty Gold,” was an offshoot of the environmental organisation, Earthworks. It essentially wanted the mining industry to “clean up its act.” Still, No Dirty Gold was very focused on what it didn’t want to see in the mining industry (displaced communities, contaminated drinking water, etc). It had less to say about what it did want to see. What did an ideal gold mining industry actually look like? That’s the question that Fairmined Gold answered.
On February 14th, 2011 the first Fairmined gold appeared in UK and Canadian markets. Fairmined went directly to the source. They sought out artisanal and small scale mining operations and worked with them to meet the "Fairmined Standard." This standard encompasses four different areas: environmental protection, safe working conditions, social development (no child labour or gender inequality) and organisational development (empowering the operation to trade on a global scale). After working with these operations for 18-24 months, Fairmined then puts them forward to a 3rd party for certification. Only when they receive the certification can the gold then enter the global market. Fairmined shares the same principles as Fairtrade. However, the two have slightly different certifying organisations, and Fairtrade encompasses a range of products beyond precious metals. Today, Fairmined works with eight fully certified small scale gold mining operations. Those eight operations supply 180 businesses in 21 countries.
Positive Benefits of Fairmined Gold
Fairmined has a holistic view when it comes to impact. It’s about creating a positive gold experience for miners, for the industry and for consumers. Fairmined gives legitimacy and market access to small scale mining organisations. It lets them trade on a global scale. More importantly, it ensures they receive a fair price for their gold. At the end of the day, the Fairmined gold industry, instead of exploiting workers, economically empowers them.
Working with Fairmined is also beneficial for industry retailers. On a technical level, it means that companies must conform to all international and government regulations. Beyond that, it means that companies can incorporate the values of Fairmined into their ethos. It means they become a company that truly values people. At the end of the supply chain, consumers then have a more positive experience with the gold they buy. They know that worker empowerment and positivity went into sourcing that gold. In addition to economic value, that gold can take on a greater emotional value.
How can we move further toward Fairmined Gold?
Despite all these positive benefits, Fairmined gold is still far from operating mainstream. How can we change this? Arabel Lebrusan is an entrepreneur and pioneer in Fairtrade jewellery. She believes “growing consumer demand” will be the biggest factor in making the jewellery industry more accountable. In other words, change starts with you. A shift towards greater demand for Fairmined gold will result in large jewellery retailers matching that demand. So, next time you’re buying a gorgeous gold gift for a loved one or even treating yourself, think Fairmined. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Arabel Lebrusan’s Yellow Gold Filigree Double Hearts Ring (£155) is the perfect Fairmined gold statement ring. The intricate heart designs show the love and positivity present in every phase of the Fairmined gold’s life. If you’d rather opt for Fairmined earrings, her Yellow Gold Almond Stud Earrings (£50) are just as elegant. ANUKA is another great brand committed to sourcing only Fairtrade and Fairmined metals. Their Amati Gold Lariat Necklace (£165) or Koti Gold Cuff Bangle (£130) would both be great places to start your Fairmined gold collection. Like we said before, all that glitters is not gold. But Fairmined gold sure does glitter.