What You Need to Know about Fair-trade Jewellery
Posted on 24 August 2017
We know you choose your jewellery based on design and price, but have ever wondered who makes it and in what conditions? Fairtrade jewellery is quickly growing in popularity and brings a lot of benefits to consumers and producers alike.
Fairtrade can be easily described: companies from highly developed countries pay fair prices for the products and labour of people from underdeveloped countries. It doesn't matter if we're discussing bananas or coffee beans, or for example gold mined in Peru, paying the fair price means that workers will be payed equitably for their work and will be able to live a decent life and afford to fulfill their basic needs: from food and clothing to healthcare and education. The work conditions must also rise to some quality standards.
How can you tell that you purchased a fairtrade product? The easiest way is to look for accreditations. Producers who are part of World Fair Trade Organisation (WTFO) or the British Association of Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) abide the rules of fairtrading.
When it comes to jewellery, it is important to know that not all metals fall under fairtrade regulations. For example, gold and silver are regulated, but brass is not.
Nevertheless what are the actual benefits of fairtrade? We classified the most important ones into four categories:
1. They can be traced.
Metals from artisanal mining are easily traced back to the initial producer, unlike the metals from large scale industrial mining. This way, jewellery becomes the ”face” of real humans, it creates a connexion between individuals and it does not only represent the image of a global market.
2. Financial benefits for miners and their families.
There is no intermediary person between the miners, the actual producer and the buyers, so miners can ask for the exact price they find adequate. Explanation is gone and in some cases so is poverty. Moreover, funds are given to the miner communities to invest in the sectors where it's most needed, like new schools and better equipment.
3. Mining becomes safer and more equitable.
In many cases, artisanal mining means poverty, working with dangerous chemicals, hazardous working conditions and a market controlled by local sales-persons, BUT fairtrade movements are fighting against them! Fairtrade movements have strict health and safety regulations that the mines must abide, do not allow employment of workers under the age of 18 and encourage hiring women, but in the sorting and extraction sectors, not in the actual mining ones.
4. Benefits for the environment.
The Fairtrade foundation is educating miners about the risks of mercury, cyanide and other hazardous chemicals and offers protective equipment so that miners can safely work with these chemicals that can otherwise cause severe health issues and can damage the environment. Moreover, the Fairtrade foundation is trying to develop alternatives to using hazardous chemicals and methods of reducing the pollution caused by mining.
What does this all mean for the consumer of the good, in our case jewellery? The fact that miners get a fair price for the metals they mine, that they work in a safe environment with modern, improved equipments means a better quality of products so the consumers will not only enjoy an ethical and good quality good, but they will also help the industry take a step forward to a better future.