Building an Ethical Jewellery Industry

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.

Kassandra Lauren Gordon
September 2020

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

Tackling Racism in the Jewellery Industry

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290770768{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”798″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1594667123797{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column_text el_class=”caption” css=”.vc_custom_1594667135820{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]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.[/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.

 

The Shadow of Gold

[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=”674″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” onclick=”custom_link” css=”.vc_custom_1580063169374{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}” link=”https://www.fairluxury.co.uk/featured/ethicalmakingresource/”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Join us for an online screening of

The Shadow of Gold

In partnership with
The Goldsmiths’ Centre and the Incorporation of Goldsmiths

 

Following the successful UK film premiere in March at the Goldsmiths’ Centre there is now another chance to catch this incredibly moving film and this time you can join us from wherever you are.

Date   Wed 24 June 2020
Time   6:00pm-8:00pm
Price   £5
Venue Online – via Zoom

BOOK NOW

The film reveals that glittering gold has a dark shadow, taking an unflinching look at how the world’s favourite precious metal is extracted from the earth. It explores both the big-time mining companies that dig deep and lop off mountaintops to extract gold from low-grade ore, and the small-time miners – an estimated 20 million people in the world’s poorest nations – who extract gold by hand, often producing just enough to survive.

 

 

But it doesn’t leave it there: we meet engineers, scientists, and Fair-Trade advocates who work with miners to tackle gold’s worst environmental and social problems. In an industrial-scale mine, we see new technology replacing cyanide-based processing with a biological process that leaves no toxic waste. We watch small-scale miners benefit from an environmentally friendly processes that replaces mercury and actually produces more gold. We meet Fair Trade jewellers who have created their own self-managed, transparent supply chain that ensures consumers know exactly where their gold comes from.

The film screening will be followed by a showing of the original panel discussion with the film producer Sally Blake, Duncan Marshall of Betts Metals and Rachel Brass of Levin Sources chaired by our very own Anna Loucah[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

A really special commission

ally[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290770768{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”606″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1559850694949{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column_text el_class=”caption” css=”.vc_custom_1559850728833{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”]image © Amanda Li Hope[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Click here to read the journey of our own Jane Barnett’s jewellery commissions – a testament to the positive impact of doing things differently.

From sourcing and choosing gemstones through the making process these special pieces have a story to tell.

here’s the link below just in case
http://www.levinsources.com/blog/ethical-and-bespoke-create-jewellery-doesnt-cost-the-earth[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Making Impact Conference

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Thank you for the wonderful Fair Luxury Making Impact Conference”

“I had a really great day and left feeling inspired by all the amazing speakers and buzzing with energy!”

Just two responses to Making Impact – our 2019 conference with the Incorporation of Goldsmiths in Edinburgh which took place at Edinburgh College of Art on 3rd April.

A broad audience, including jewellers and silversmiths, gemstone dealers and mining experts, students and academics amongst others, explored how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relate to jewellery and metalwork practice in the UK and in our industry globally. More and more businesses are using the SDGs to help them prioritise and communicate areas for social, environmental and economic impact and we looked at how they can become a set of tools to enable us to make a positive impact in our field and in our practice.

 

Speakers and subject included:

Keynote speaker – Emily Auckland from the UK Stake Holders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD)
UKSSD is a cross-sector network of organisations who work together to drive action on the UN sustainable development goals in the UK. Emily introduced the SDGs and talked about how they can be used by individuals, organisations and globally to effect change.

Vivienne Low from Fashion Revolution Scotland reported on the ongoing Fashion Revolution campaign and highlighted ways in which we can question and change our outlook and lifestyle and join the campaign in order to improve the lives of others.

Simon Forrester introduced the National Association of Jewellers Better Business Pathway and talked about their other work and member resources.

Stuart Pool presented the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) and PACT Tanzania Project, helping artisanal women miners in Tanzania build better livelihoods.

Dr Sandra Wilson – Urban Gold Rush: Recovering precious metals from electronic waste.

Hannah Bedford and Stefanie Cheong talked about Ethical Jewellery in Practice.

Jennifer Gray from Edinburgh College of Art and the Student Ambassadors brought updates on progress in the Scottish Art colleges following the signing of the Ethical Making Pledge and talked about new independent initiatives they are taking, plus exciting news about the proposed introduction of an ethics course which goes beyond the jewellery and silversmithing departments.
For more about the Ethical Making Programme click here 

You can see and download the full event programme here

Special thanks to the Incorporation of Goldsmiths and Edinburgh College of Art for working with us to host and create this inspiring and energising event.

If you would like to be kept informed of future events please sign up to our mailing list and we’ll let you know of our news and upcoming events[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1526566852539{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][rev_slider alias=”making-impact-2019″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Diamonds For Peace

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290770768{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”460″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1536530506610{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column_text el_class=”caption” css=”.vc_custom_1536530464518{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Diamonds for Peace was formed in Japan in 2014 as a direct result of founder Chie Murakami’s exploration of the diamond industry and supply chain when she became engaged and wanted to find out more about where diamonds come from.

Working at each end of the supply chain, Diamonds for Peace has a unique two-stranded approach, both raising public awareness about the challenges and realities of the diamond industry and also engaging on-the-ground with a mining project working to bring responsibly sourced diamonds to market.

For more about Diamonds for Peace and their work you can access and download their newsletter here.

You will also hear from some of the people in the artisanal mining community in Liberia where Diamonds for Peace is working to develop a better and safer working environment as well as a more equitable route to market.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Fair Luxury at IJL 2018

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left” css=”.vc_custom_1523290770768{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”488″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1538136134760{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column_text el_class=”caption” css=”.vc_custom_1535621439956{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Fair Luxury brought The Human Face of the Jewellery Supply Chain to IJL on Tuesday, 4th September 2018.

The seminar took place over three sessions at the Retail Theatre with an open-eyed yet positive look at situations and initiatives that are impacting the lives of people in our industry.

10.00 – 10.30am
The Hidden Cost of Jewellery – Human rights in the supply chain and how to source responsibly, Komala Ramachandra (Human Rights Watch)

Human Rights Watch highlights the human issues in the jewellery manufacturing sector, covered in detail in their report the Hidden Cost of Jewellery.

10.45 – 11.15am
Successes, challenges and progress on human rights in the artisanal mining sector, Victoria Gronwald, (Levin Sources Limited)

In this session Victoria highlights the extreme working conditions and human risks of artisanal mining and discusses progress and challenges on the journey towards integrating this important sector into global regulated supply chains.

11.30am – 12.00pm
Social impact models – Her Future Coalition – sourcing from a social enterprise for women jewellers in disadvantaged communities in India, Sarah Greenaway (Mosami)

Exploring impact innovation in the manufacturing sector, Sarah shares case studies of Her Future Coalition and other social enterprises that are changing lives, showing how positive impact can be made by re-imagining the supply chain.

For the IJL website click here and for our facebook event page here

You can access some of the presentations here

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