For many, a new year is a clean slate; an opportunity to hatch plans and establish goals.
If you foresee 2021 as the year your business takes on a more sustainable form, you might wish to kickstart it with the Fair Luxury Pledge.
Our Pledge is a new framework designed to support you and your peers, helping you to set your intentions for a responsible business in 2021 and be accountable to your community. Pledge-themed Open House events will now run quarterly, starting this month.
Will you join the movement?
To find out how to make YOUR Pledge, “come along” to our January Open House event.
The (virtual) doors will open on Thursday 28th January at 10am (London time) / 11am (Paris time). Open House is free to attend, but pleaseregister in advance to join us.
We know that when jewellery is produced responsibly it can provide sustainable livelihoods for all involved – from the miners of raw materials right through the supply chain to the ultimate designer or retailer of the finished piece.
As individual designers, makers, traders and educators we’ve pledged to make changes and business decisions that are driven by more than just profit. In every aspect of our work, we seek to ensure that we are achieving and maintaining a safe, sustainable and just industry for all.
We are each at a different stage in our journey towards responsible business, but we are all working on it. No matter how big or small, our collective actions will change the world.
Through the jewellery we create and the ways we run our businesses, those who make the Fair Luxury Pledge each promise to:
1. Conserve and restore the environment
2. Work in a way that is responsible, transparent and accountable
3. Play a role in educating and empowering others
This session will last for one 1 hour, details below:
– 15 min: Short introduction to the Fair Luxury Pledge by Anna Loucah, founder of Anna Loucah fine jewellery. Members of the Fair Luxury team will share their pledges to get participants thinking about what their own pledge might be.
– 30 min: We will go into break out rooms to enable small group conversations. What might your pledge be? It might be something as simple as using only eco cleaning products to wash your workshop floor! Or something bigger like only using gems with a guarentee of provenance. Use the conversation to brainstorm ideas and encourage each other.
– 15 min: We will re-join the main group and each group will share some of their thoughts/ possible intentions for the pledge.
After the event you will be encouraged to fill in our Pledge form.
The aim of the Pledge is to enable you to set realistic goals for yourself and your business, breaking them down into manageable steps.
It’s not necessarily about completion, it’s more about being accountable aswell as acknowledging and celebrating progress!
We’ll follow up at the next Pledge Open House with a chance to reflect on our progress and any challenges encountered along the way. It will take place on April 29th at 10am GMT
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant detrimental impacts on the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector worldwide. It has caused supply chain disruptions that have impacted large – and small-scale mineral sectors alike, and has resulted in a drop in both production and income for huge numbers of artisanal miners, many of whom do not have the capital to be resilient against such shocks.
Against this backdrop, and knowing the importance of reliable data for understanding the challenges that faced artisanal miners, Levin Sources participated in a study looking at the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). As part of the World Bank-funded Delve Impact Reporting Initiative, we conducted interviews from May – July 2020 with both artisanal miners and key sector stakeholders in the DRC, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe. With a focus on gold and construction minerals, data was collected from miners every two weeks over a ten-week period, in order to understand how the impacts of the pandemic were changing for miners over time. Approximately thirty to forty mine site respondents were interviewed by telephone in each country, using a remote survey designed by Delve. Data was collected on a number of key topics, including health and safety (related to COVID-19), gender issues, physical security, food security, government support and engagement and how miner’s production, markets and supply chains were impacted by the pandemic and related restrictions.
Our key findings have been documented in a series of blogs, showcasing our results in each country, as well as a special edition on the gendered impacts of COVID – how the pandemic has impacted women artisanal miners in particular.
View the blogs created by Levin Sources staff and our in country associates.
Our first guest author is Kassandra Lauren Gordon, jeweller, poet and activist.
The Fair Luxury website states: “Each of us is at a different place on our journey to responsible business, but we are working on it. No matter how small, collectively our actions will transform our industry for the better.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I have always seen myself as an ethical jeweller and have tried my best to live up to that in my jewellery practice by giving clients the option to buy ethical materials. I have used fair trade gold, recycled gold, recycled silver and buy the most ethical gemstones I can find as much as possible.
But ultimately I can’t offer ethically sourced materials that I can’t find or that are too expensive for my customers. And if these materials are going to be more than branding for me they have to be as ethically sourced as they are claimed to be or we can’t rely on the effects of using ethical suppliers to materialise. However, I have no realistic way of verifying the claims to ‘ethicalness’ that a supplier makes, so I must take it on trust.
It’s just not possible to be ‘ethical’ in the sense of what we want this word to mean without the industry, or at least part of it, also being as ethical as we want to be.
I think one of the best vehicles for spreading the impact of the use of ethical supplies is combining our buying power and signposting to others which suppliers we believe are providing the best quality and ethically reliable supplies. As our influence grows and consumer tastes become more ethical, more suppliers would have the incentive to also start selling ethical supplies.
I am very inspired by the changes we’ve seen in the food industry. It was not long ago that to be vegetarian almost meant to not be able to eat at all if you were out. Perhaps there would be one token vegetarian option on the menu. But the industry has responded very robustly to the change in consumer tastes. Now some vegetarian substitutes are indistinguishable from traditional recipes because of the work that has been done on recipes and ingredients. Today, diners of a variety of diets have real options.
If we can build a network or a directory of ethical product and service providers, this could be a very good step in the direction of us being able to be the ethical jewellers we want to be ourselves and then expanding that impact through the industry.
To truly be ethical jewellers we must see our values manifested in the work of others.
Over the last few years there has been an explosion in the number of brands promoting themselves as all of these things.
Maybe your brand is one of them. Maybe you feel passionately about doing the right thing and have taken steps to do something positive in your business.
But are you truly creating a responsible business?
When thinking about impact or sustainability, most brands focus inwards – analysing the inner workings of their business model. Where do my materials come from? How are my pieces manufactured? What’s my carbon footprint?
These are great starting points (and ones we should all be tackling!), but they are just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
Running a responsible business means going beyond just our main, day to day activities. It requires us to think about our values, our business as a whole, our wider impact on the world, and our sphere of influence.
Here are five of the Goals brought to life with examples from brands already embracing them. They aim to inspire you to develop a more outwardly focused strategy that will benefit your brand and the world around it. Ideas for all 17 of the Goals can be downloaded from the V&V website.
Goal 1 No Poverty
This Goal asks us all to think about how we can reduce poverty. Brands like Yala Jewellery and SOKO Kenya have chosen to work directly with the people in their supply chains to empower them to improve their livelihoods. According to Yala, one of the workshops they work with ‘enables its artisans to look after themselves and their families, as well as neighbours and friends who are dependent on them. In total, their work has a positive impact on over 300 households in the area’.
If you aren’t able to work directly with producers, could you explore opportunities to work with NGOs that do? Both the Fairtrade certification scheme and the Fairmined standard for gold both aim to support people out of poverty.
Goal 5 – Gender Equality
One way you can support gender equality is to commit to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principals. These are 7 actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
You don’t have to employ hundreds of people to put equality on your brand’s agenda. Have a look at how Purpose Jewellery support women who have escaped human trafficking to ‘find hope, dignity and freedom for the future’.
Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Empowerment.
Here’s some inspiration for Goal 8: Jewellery brand Little by Little’s business model goes way beyond just making jewellery. The team have established a charitable partnership with Luminary Bakeries. Every piece of Little by Little jewellery sold provides a disadvantaged woman with a career-boosting day of training at the bakery to help build employment skills and experience.
Your brand’s support for the goals doesn’t have to directly link to fashion and jewellery to be beneficial to all involved. Could your brand partner with other local businesses or groups to improve someone’s access to work?
Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production
Choosing more sustainable materials, such as certified recycled or artisanal metals, is obviously crucial for this goal. As is having a supplier code-of-conduct in place to ensure you are working with responsible manufacturers. But what about the rest of your business? Why not conduct a waste audit to see what you are wasting and why. Then find ways to reduce, reuse & recycle.
Ellie Air Jewellery has found ways to produce better and consume less across their business: ensuring packaging is plastic-free and fully recyclable, minimising the use of hazardous chemicals in their workshop, making the business paperless where possible, and running their studio on renewable energy. What small changes could you make? Often making changes like this can create efficiencies in the way your work, resulting in cost savings. Win-win.
Goal 14 – Life Below Water
Now this one sounds tricky, especially for a jewellery business! But if you are passionate about protecting our oceans you can find a way to make a difference.
Have a look at how jewellery brand Alex Monroe supports Goal 14, through their Ocean’s Collection in partnership with Friends of the Earth. This project raises money for a cause that the brand is passionate about and educates their customers on the issue of plastic waste in our oceans. It’s also a great PR story for the brand. Another win-win!
Focusing on just one of the goals does not make a sustainable business. Thinking carefully about what you believe and where you can have the most positive impact across the goals will help you to build a strategy that can lead to a truly sustainable way of working. Your starting point might still be to look at where your materials come from or how your pieces are made, but perhaps through the choices you make you can also contribute to reducing gender inequality, empowering others to find decent work, or even saving our oceans.
Alongside our autumn Fair Luxury Open House events, a series of webinars and talks on the theme of diamonds and the ethical issues and challenges faced and created by the diamond industry have been taking place across the globe. These eye-opening and positive events shine a light on what needs to change in the industry and offer possibilities for change.
We all know that the lack of traceability in diamond supply chains is a huge issue. Knowing the origin and the path is the first step to know if diamonds are mined, cut, and processed with humanitarian and environmental considerations. The webinar will explore how Blockchain and other emerging technologies can and are beginning to be used to help supply chains be traceable and accountable.
Other subjects addressed with open eyes and a realistic perspective to date include: Human rights violations in the Kimberley Process, environmental destruction, the diamond industry viewed through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The great thing is that alongside highlighting the problems are proposals for solutions and positive activities that have been implemented to date.
Thank you Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, Diamonds for Peace and others for creating a critical mass of content and to Human Rights Watch, The International Peace Information Service (IPIS), the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition and everyone who is bringing these important matters to the fore.
We’ll be addressing some difficult questions and challenges:
What the Kimberley Process is and what it isn’t. Flaws and potential solutions.
What it is really like on the ground; what would improve the situation? What if everyone just bought lab grown diamonds?
Our own Clara Breen and David Crump will host with guest speakers who have experience in African diamond mining and have conducted independent research in the field. Their short presentations will be followed by small group discussions, a chance to reflect and connect with others on what you’ve heard and learned.
Shamiso Mtisi Deputy Director at the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association and Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition Coordinator
Hans Merket Researcher, International Peace Information Service (IPIS Research)
Chie Murakami Founder & Director General, NGO Diamonds for Peace
This session will round up the Fair Luxury Open House series on diamonds and their impact on people and planet. We’ve looked at natural diamonds and mining, explored developments and challenges in the lab-grown diamond industry and faced up to some of the challenges and changes in the industry, including a hard look at the Kimberley Process. Together we are developing our understanding of the ethics of this most fascinating of gemstones and finding out about the diamond industry in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. You can find out more about the UNSDGs here.
Get together with the ethical jewellery community and find support on your fair jewellery journey. Established designers, makers, new graduates and independent businesses – whatever stage of the ethical sourcing journey you’re at, you are very welcome.
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Those of us with long standing commitment to ethical sourcing have been working towards creating greater public awareness of the somewhat murkier challenges faced by the jewellery industry for some time now. It is often a difficult message to convey to an audience previously unaware that such issues exist and a tricky subject to broach with those only wishing to feel joy and hope for their own future with the purchase of that special ring.
How can something so representative of love be tainted by the struggles of those in the supply chain that created it?
Fifteen years ago, Hollywood focused public attention on the atrocities committed in the sourcing of what had become known as a ‘Blood Diamond’ with its release of a film of that name. However, since then wider public awareness has somewhat plateaued. Have we simply assumed that because there has been a film about it the issues highlighted have somehow been resolved?
We in the privileged western world are continuing to realise the power we hold as consumers but that can be overwhelming. Can we find ourselves dampened by a feeling of eco overload when everything that we choose to spend our money on seems to have some negative impact on our precious planet somewhere down the line?
Independent jewellers have long been conscientiously sharing their own best practice with their individual client bases and the number of such jewellers committed to ethical practice has grown exponentially over recent years – but it has still been a story that’s fermenting rather than exploding. Reaching a wider audience takes a louder voice.
And so, to see an entire feature in September’s edition of British Vogue dedicated to ethical sourcing and transparency in the supply chain does feel like a pretty substantial bump up the ladder.
The global fashion behemoth has again put itself one step ahead of what its readership wants before they knew they want it and dedicated a glossy 4-page spread – dripping with gorgeous jewels – to discuss, in user friendly terms, the complexities of today’s jewellery industry.
In an edition dedicated entirely to defining what modern activism looks like, Vogue UK’s Jewellery and Watch Director Rachel Garrahan digs into the many challenges facing the jewellery industry supply chain but also celebrates its many achievements.
‘Now more than ever, jewellers are committing to responsible sourcing via supply chains as lucid as the gems themselves’ she writes. ‘In a global jewellery industry estimated to be worth £230 billion, there is a growing demand among consumers to be able to make ethically sound choices’
The article features sound bites from numerous long committed jewellers alongside a dazzling display of the precious creations themselves – such as those of Fair Luxury friend and co-conspirator Ute Decker. In addition to the glossy images it is also pleasing to see a number of the development initiatives and supply chain trailblazers gain recognition – including our very own, ever glamorous and fashion forward Stuart Pool of Nineteen48!
In the long game towards creating a more transparent and responsible business practice this is an encouraging indication of what can be achieved with greater consumer awareness. The continued commitment of those working in all sectors of our industry combined with our shared collaborative passion means that we can enjoy, with growing confidence, a sense that we are moving towards something that can sincerely be defined as Fair Luxury.
Our second Open House will take place on Friday 28th August, 4-5pm BST. Thank you to everyone who participated in July, we hope you found it fruitful and look forward to seeing everyone who can join us next time. This month’s theme for discussion is Does sustainability kill the romance of selling jewellery?
Do you ever speak with your clients about the serious issues in ‘standard’ practices in metal or gemstone mining (e.g. child labour, mercury etc…) to encourage them to choose the more sustainable options? Do you find that speaking about those issues kills the romance of the jewellery buying experience?
We will have a similar format to last month with small breakout groups for the middle section of the Open House. with participants asked to have a think about three questions beforehand which we will discuss in small groups.
-What options do you offer your clients?
-What response have you had from them?
-In what ways have you raised this topic effectively?
The Fair Luxury Open House is an opportunity to connect with the ethical jewellery community and find support on your fair jewellery journey.
Are you interested in more ethical sourcing in your jewellery-making practice or business? Or perhaps you’ve started on the journey, but at times it can feel like you’re swimming against the tide.
You are not alone!
Join Fair Luxury Open House on Zoom for an informal monthly get together to find support, learn and exchange on all things relating to ethical jewellery practices: sourcing, making tips, and much more. By nurturing a sense of human connection and sharing information we can support each other and help to focus our individual intentions. Established designers, makers, new graduates and independent businesses – whatever stage of the ethical sourcing journey you’re at, you are very welcome.
Our first event took place on Friday 31st July 2020, with a short introduction followed by a breakout into smaller groups of four or five people, each led by a Fair Luxury team member. We explored the challenges we have encountered, discussed progress made and covered any concerns and areas people want to learn more about. We concluded by rejoining the main group and comparing notes on what was discussed in the small group sessions.
Sessions last for an hour in total and are not currently recorded as the Open House is designed to be a space for sharing information and finding peer support in confidence. However we do intend to pick up on any areas of common interest at future events.
Open House free to join via signing up on Eventbrite and you can find details for each meeting on our featured post – so keep an eye out for monthly updates.
In a very short space of time, the Black Lives Matter campaign has amplified awareness of racism in its many forms and given fresh voice to the experience of injustice and inequality faced by Black people. It has also caused many to reflect on the white privilege they’d never considered and address their accountability in both unconscious and conscious racial bias. This is a historic moment and must not pass without real change being the result.
What are we and our industry doing to make change?
The activity of Fair Luxury is often associated with materials sourcing and the supply chain but when we use the work “equitable” to describe the kind of jewellery industry we want to see, it includes reflecting the diversity of our society and ensuring the colour of someone’s skin is not a barrier to entry and opportunity in the trade.
Looking at the following definition, we know that that silence and passivity will not tackle inequality or bring about change in society: “Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” (NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity from http://www.aclrc.com/antiracism-defined)
Fair Luxury acknowledges that good intentions are not enough to bring about change in our jewellery industry and we believe that, from educators to businesses to institutions, we need to proactively address and counter systemic and structural racism at all levels.
Working for equality and human rights is as important and urgent as tackling the climate crisis if we are serious about a sustainable future for humankind. Both call for action, whether we consider ourselves campaigners or not.
The NAJ and the Goldsmiths’ Company have released statements in response to the new awareness of racism, click their names to link to the statements.