12 December 2012

Of Love and Gold

Written by Published in Good Brands
Diamond and gold engangement ring by Cred Diamond and gold engangement ring by Cred

You're at the altar where the love of your life stands beside you. A shining, gold ring adorns your finger. Sublime unearths the fairytale behind pure treasure, a labour of love and luxury defined by passion

The Egyptian King Tutankhamen had his treasured tombs filled with it. Today’s monetary system is the historic epitome of its value. We all recall the idiom that it’s worth its weight. Gold.

Standing for luxury and an emblem for prosperity, gold remains one of the most precious and most sought-after metals of our time.  

diamond-engagement-ringWe wear a gold ring on our finger to highlight our union to the one we love, often passing it onto future generations as a family heirloom. We spend time considering and crafting the custom-made design with our jeweller.

Yet gold mining is often awry, battling its own bitter demons. Not just because it can scar the landscape, create land erosion and provide a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. It can exploit those who dig for its treasure, continuing in the cutting workshops with child labour in the world’s poorest and often remotest regions. With this knowledge, can we live happily ever after?

Our historic adoration for gold may continue. Valentine’s Day 2011 brought us the official launch of Fairtrade & Fairmined certified gold by the UK’s Fairtrade Foundation.

minersGold Miners. Photo: Eduardo MartinoWith a strict chain of custody from mine to finished ring, Fairtrade and Fairmined gold ensures that small-scale and artisanal miners can now receive a fair wage in good working conditions, and without exploiting the environment in the process.

A handful of committed luxury ethical jewellers beam brighter now, having passionately campaigned for years for these improved standards within the international jewellery industry.  

Greg Valerio of Cred Jewellery says he does what he does simply, ‘because it’s the right thing to do.’

‘We are trying to demonstrate that creating beautiful jewellery does not mean you don’t have to exploit people or the planet in the process. The average £10,000 wedding ring will create three tonnes of toxic waste such as cyanide or mercury, and that’s just the environmental impact.’

master-craftmanMaster craftsman at Ingle & RhodeAs David Rhode of Ingle & Rhode highlights, ‘It took a long time for certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to reach the market – understandably, as it is a big challenge to establish a transparent supply chain that can be properly audited, particularly when a major part of it is based in the developing world. Now that the systems and processes are in place, the supply chain runs very smoothly.’

With an estimated 20 million artisanal or self-employed miners around the world earning less than 70 pence a day, we can choose Fairtrade & Fairmined gold certification and continue our own personal love story with ethical assurance.

The custom-made engagement rings and wedding bands we buy are always likely to be lifetime purchases.

‘Most people don’t want their engagement or wedding to be tarnished with something that has been made unethically’, adds David.

To add a twist to our tale, there’s a lot or resistances to change within the jewellery industry and whilst some jewellers state they are being ethical, it’s not always the case.

Passion comes from a place in the heart. If you desire it to end up on your finger then find yours with a bespoke ethical jeweller that can expertly handcraft Fairtrade certified gold into fine jewellery. Love should be transparent. The Greek tragedian Euripides once wrote, ‘Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold.’

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