Is your jewellery brand really responsible?

Ethical jewellery. Fair trade products.  Responsible brands. Sustainable business. All sounds good, right?

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.

A recent blog by sustainability consultancy V&V, talks about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how they can help you build a more resilient business model.  Whilst, at first glance, some of the goals can feel pretty daunting, they all provide a starting point to explore innovative ways of working, empowering, and giving.

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.

Jewellery brand, Swarovski, have brought them to life through their work with BSR’s (Business for Social Responsibility) HERproject.  For example, one project trained women in their supply chain on health issues, and empowered them to share their knowledge with their peers.

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.

Victoria Waugh, October 2020

Diamonds – the hot topic

Diamonds – the hot topic

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.

kimberley process diamonds seminar

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.

Open House: Diamonds – What’s Next?

The fifth Open House concludes our series on diamonds with a real­‑life look at diamond mining, human rights and the environment.

Join us on Friday 27 November 3pm (GMT)

Book your place here.

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.

Guest Speakers

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

find out more and register

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.

If you enjoy regular updates from Fair Luxury, sign up to hear about or events and activities, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Just click the social buttons at the top of the page.

Fashion Gets Active!

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.

Gold Spiral Earrings, Ute Decker

‘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.

Anna Loucah, September 2020

Open House August

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?

 

It is free to attend but please register in advance to join us.

Here’s the link in full just in case you need it

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fair-luxury-open-house-tickets-116250499373

See you there!

Our First Open House

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.

Tackling Racism in the Jewellery Industry

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.

Many of you will have read Kassandra Lauren-Gordon’s open letter to the jewellery industry re. racism, originally published on 17 June and reproduced here with the author’s permission. Alongside a call to action she also recounts some of her own experience of racism during her career.

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.

Click the link for the Hardship Fund for Black Jewellers fundraising page

Click here for the Ethical Metalsmiths Social Justice Resources page

Please let us know of any initiatives or other useful links that we can include here.

Gold Supply Chains in the Time of Pandemic

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290663194{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”732″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1590423695935{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Jewelry Industry Summit and Initiatives in Art and Culture partnered to host a webinar as part of their Fast Forwarding Sustainability series.

Uniting industry experts, this webinar covered pressing concerns for gold supply chains, the impacts of the COVID crisis on artisanal mining communities and potential solutions for responsible gold supply chains. The content and ideas shared led to some new and important thinking about the transformed world we now must confront.

Delegates were
Joanne Lebert  Executive Director, IMPACT
Conny Havel, Head of Supply Chains and Markets, Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM)
Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director, Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)
Estelle Levin-Nally, Founder + Director, Levin Sources
Christina T. Miller, Founder + Lead Consultant, Christina T. Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting

For those who missed this informative and powerful session we recommend it and you can find it on their webinars page here – or use this link
https://www.jewelryindustrysummit.com/webinars/[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Fairmined Europe Meeting

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290663194{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”723″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1586903235645{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Fairmined Meeting in Munich, February 2020, brought European jewellers and refiners together with Conny Havel and Natalia Uribe Martínez from the Alliance for Responsible Mining. It was an opportunity to hear Fairmined news and updates, celebrate 15 years of the Alliance for Responsible Mining, make new contacts and explore how ARM can better support and meet the needs of all the people and organisations it is involved with. This included the news that Fairmined gold plating is coming on-stream – you may have seen the announcement that D&M are offering this in the UK.

 

For the first time there was a Fairmined presence at the Inhorgenta jewellery fair, alongside the campaign for Mercury Free Mining and a programme of talks focusing on sustainability.

You can download a synopsis of the updates here and read more in the Fairmined blog about their Europe events here.

 

See also below links to some inspiring and informative films about the work of ARM

 

ARM celebrates it’s 15th Anniversary

ARM 15 years

Fairmined: a path to a better future   a great way to show your clients why Fairmined Gold is Gold to be Proud Of

and two movies that really show the difference Fairmined certification makes to communities.

Transforming mining communities

MACDESA: Creating a future for everyone[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Diamonds of Botswana

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290663194{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”687″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” onclick=”custom_link” css=”.vc_custom_1582222625880{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}” link=”https://www.fairluxury.co.uk/featured/ethicalmakingresource/”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The Diamonds of Botswana is the latest in the Fashionscapes series of documentaries from Eco-Age that explores aspects of the global fashion supply chain. Directed by Andrew Morgan it follows Livia Firth as she discovers the diamond industry in Botswana and how an industry with a questionable history can transform and create positive impact.