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Posts Tagged ‘Fairtrade’

The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold in time for Valentines Day in February was a great leap forward in the development of trade in the jewellery industry. Hollywood stars, celebrity jewellers and our favourite names are embracing the new status and showing it has the lux appeal.

Historically the allure of jewellery has been the mystery surrounding how beautiful stones and metals are brought together to make glittering jewellery to adorn our bodies as they were worn by only the richest. However, now we understand more about the production processes of the products that we use day to day, transparancy has become the key factor as we want assurance that out luxuries are not at the expence of anothers life.

No longer simply indulging inthe world of luxury, the celebrities we look up are embracing these issues and bringing injustices to light. Livia Firth, the wife of Oscar winner Colin Firth, is a Fairtrade ambassador. She told the Telegraph: ‘We associate gold with love and beauty but there is often nothing beautiful about the way that gold is produced. Tens of millions of small-scale gold miners risk their lives in often appalling conditions and get a raw deal for their strenuous efforts.’

Most of the world’s gold is collected by small scale miners, often in dangerous conditions and exploited by middle-men. And in the race to keep costs low mines are simply abandoned when finished with leaving a large blot on the landscape. Gold certified as Fairtrade and Fairmined (a dual certification) ensures fair working conditions and wages and a guaranteed price for gold despite market fluctuations, and a premium on top of pay to benefit the community.

When CRED jewellery started the idea of fairtrade gold over 10 years ago, they dreamt that one day it would be worn on the red carpet. Luckily Livia Firth backs up her beliefs by living them out. She wore the first ever Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold jewellery at the Oscars 2011 ceremony, a set designed and hand-made by goldsmith Anna Loucah in collaboration with CRED Jewellery. Over the awards seasons of 2010 and 2011, as she accompanied husband Colin to pick up his numerous awards for ‘A Single Man’ and ‘The Kings Speech’, she wore only ethical or eco dresses and accessories for her Green Carpet Challenge

Meanwhile, in the USA, actress Brooklyn Decker (wife of tennis pro Andy Roddick) hit the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in a Joy Cioci dress accessorised with conflict-free and fair trade jewelry from Diamond in the Rough.

Jeweller to the stars (Christina Aguilera and Madonna are both big fans), Stephen Webster announced that both his label and Garrard, the renowned house he oversees as creative director, will be among the first 20 jewelers in the world to launch Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold. Like longstanding ethical jeweller, CRED, he is starting with wedding and engagement rings, but he hopes that soon his brands will be 100% Fairtrade.

Crown jewellers Garrard have been associated with the Royal jewellery collections since 1700’s, making royal jewellery commissions including Queen Victoria’s diamond crown, many coronations crowns and the Sapphire and diamond ring made for Princess Diana’s engagement ring that Kate is now wearing. Will Wills and Kate be commissioning them to make their royal wedding rings in fairtrade gold?

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If you work well under pressure you may well have left thinking of a Valentines gift till the last minute.

Your choice is either to go for something that can be delivered on the day, or to get creative, which may depend on how much time you have available to make a gift or devise a romantic surprise… Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best – eg. filling a little box with ‘reasons I love you’ written on bits of paper, breakfast in bed on Monday morning will make the week much more bearable, or turn up at your partners workplace at lunchtime with a picnic basket to take to the local green space. Here are some more ideas for an evening in.

However, if you are going for the last minute puchase, here are some classics and other ideas…

Get flowers delivered to work
For the classic floral display, Marks & Spencer have a dozen fairtrade red roses for £19.99 including p&p.

For a more bohemian and in season arrangement, Wiggly Wigglers Valentine bouquets are fabulous arrangements of locally grown flowers and foliage starting from £31.50, with the added advantage that they are currently offering 3 bars of Divine fairtrade chocolate with orders over £30, so you get flowers and chocolate in one!

Flowers are not just for Valentines
A twist on the classic floral gift and your loved one has growing space, you could give a grow-your-own lasting gift, such as a Love Grobox from Nigels Eco Store, a box of perennial bulbs of red flowers that will bring colour year after year either in the flower bed, planter or window box.
On a slightly larger scale you could send a love tree from Tree2mydoor – both the cherry tree and crab apple tree with their beautiful blossom have been known through the ages as a ‘tree of love’ – the delivery will be a young tree which will grow year on yearand far outlast a bunch of flowers…just check it is the right size for your garden!


The food of love

If flowers aint her thing, then Able & Cole, the organic veg box people, offer a range of valentine foodie gifts, including locally produced heart-shaped cheddar, varieties of chocolate and organic fizz, and the delivery of a breakfast for two…mmm!

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Eco fashionista Livia Firth has once again teamed up with fair trade jewellers MADE to design a stunning heart creation just in time for Valentines.

Livia designed the necklace to be worn as a choker with the chain and heart tumbling down the spine. And we think it is a perfect as a statement bridal necklace for a backless wedding dress.

Livia says: “I love everything about Made: the country where they produce their products, the community project they’ve set up, the sustainable materials they use to create their collections and the “trade not aid” ethos of the company. The design of this necklace combines a desire to be feminine with a twist of mischief, to tease with elegance. Who could resist the tingling feeling of the heart as it cascades down your spine?”

Materials for the necklace are sustainable and locally sourced. Recycled brass is used for the chain and the soapstone used for the heart pendent is mined locally through a co-operatively run mine that provides jobs and a better standard of living.

Not only is the necklace made with fair trade materials, but it ticks all the boxes for being multi-use – created as a long chain with hook fastening you can wear it as modelled but it gives flexibility to be worn as many ways as your creativity will allow… So there is no need to pack it away in a wedding keepsake box after the ceremony, but wear it in a different way for the evening do and then make sure it goes into your honeymoon packing…

See Livia wearing it on the red carpet at the Critics Choice awards for her green carpet challenge. How many people can say they own a design that has been on the red carpet?

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The midas touch?

Not long after I posted about the new fairtrade standards that are going to be introduced for gold mining I logged onto BBC iPlayer to catch up on the first episode of the travel show ‘Tropic of Cancer’ – oh how relevant!

The presenter, Simon Reeve, begins the series in Mexico and stops along the way at the tiny village of Cerro de San Pedro (St Peters Rock) Which hundreds of years ago built up because of the presence of gold in the area.

The villagers recount how a couple of years ago a Canadian company came and started mining close to the village. From the village side all you can see are huge walls and the fact that the mountain behind is half the size that it was and a huge mound of rubble (when we say huge, the size of the mountian…) has been built up alongside it.

They tell of how because of the explosions their houses are falling apart around them but there is nothing they can do. Any protests aginst the mining are met with hostility, vandalism and violence from the workers of the mine (also locals)

It isnt until the camera is allowed to visit the mine that you see the extent of the problem

The cluster of buildings in the background is the town – completely dwarfed by the mine!

This is why we need safe, environmentally friendly mining practices, and standards of working, agreement with local parties and profits going back into local communities.

So lets make a decision to buy only the most ethical gold, or recycled where possible – hurry up CRED with the certification!

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In our features on rings a short while ago we were able to talk about recycled gold, but not about Fairtrade, as no such certification exsisted. Well, that is about to change.

This week CRED made a great announcement. Here is what they have to say:

Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have announced the long-awaited launch of the first international independent third-party certification for gold production. The new Fairtrade and Fairmined standards will mean that millions of impoverished artisanal small-scale miners around the world will be able to receive independent certification and recognition for their efforts, bringing economic security to millions of families and their communities around the world.

Here at CRED we have long recognised the value in knowing exactly where our gold comes from, the way it was mined and all the hands it has passed through. Along with our mining partners Oro Verde™ we have championed the cause of the artisanal miner and the Fair Trade approach that seeks to put control back in the hands of the producer and pay a Fair Price for their work.

CRED are founder members of ARM, and CRED Founder Greg Valerio has been instrumental in seeing this new standard completed, working closely with FLO, ARM and all other parties involved. We are delighted for him and for everyone involved, and look forward to the great benefits this standard will bring to the mining communities that form ARM, and the many more around the world that will be brought in.

Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will guarantee a minimum price, creating security for producing communities. It will include a 10% Social Premium that will support the education and development of entire communities, and a further 5% Ecological Premium will be payable to miners that extract gold without the use of chemicals. Miners like CRED partners and ecological champions Oro Verde™.

Oro Verde™ have been producing independently-certified artisanal gold for over 7 years. They have worked hard to develop gold production that uses no chemicals, protects the environment and supports the continual development of producing communities. Oro Verde’s model was the inspiration and prototype used to produce the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard. As such Oro Verde™ will be first in line to be certified.

CRED continue to produce truly ethical jewellery in Oro Verde™ Fair Trade gold. Our Eden Wedding Rings and the sumptuous Penelope Collection by Annabel Panes are the latest examples of CRED’s pioneering journey towards excellence in design and ethics. With CRED and Oro Verde™ you can buy with confidence knowing that our jewellery is the fairest attainable.”

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Ok, so we have looked briefly at how to choose the ring design, focussed on diamonds, and looked at ways to make the ring more personal, so today we will look at gold…

The best quality rings will be gold or platinum, and like diamonds there are many environmental issues brought to the fore.

Open pit mining uses cyanide to blast open the rock revealing the precious metals. Not only do these large mines make a massive scar on the landscape, but the poisonous chemicals eek into the ecosystem of the area. According to Friends of The Earth, to make a single gold ring, 5 tonnes of water must be used and 20 tonnes of mine waste created.

CRED jewellery (right) is made using platinum and 18ct fair trade gold sourced by Oro Verde, the world’s premier supplier of ethically sourced precious metals that is produced without mercury or cyanide. As with their gold, CRED’s precious stones are traceable from mine to retail.

Although there is currently no official certification for Fairtrade gold, CRED are working closely with the Fairtrade Foundation to get something going…

For details of Ethical Gold Retailers and Suppliers visit www.nodirtygold.org

But you don’t need to have gold fresh out of the mine.

Recycled gold

In the previous post on vintage we also though about ‘upcycling’ old rings. Following the idea of melting down your own jewellery to make the rings, there are also companies who exclusively use recycled metals.

Ethical jewellers Leblas (left) make all their jewellery from recycled silver or gold as they have not found a supplier of gold that meets their strict ethical and environmental policy. Their engagement ring collections are set with conflict-free Canadian diamonds. The jewellery is all made by skilled artisans in Spain, and designed to encourage use of traditional techniques and pass these on through apprenticeships.

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Valentines is a day of romance and a day to evoke the senses – so here are some creative ideas to make sure all of the five senses get a look in this Valentines Day.

Smell
Evoke the sense of smell with a pure, clean organic perfume free from nasty chemicals – there is a variety out there that are made from organic oils, natural extracts and all animal friendly. I love the solid perfumes that come in antique cases or sustainable wood, saving on excessive glass and plastic packaging. GreenMyStyle have come up with their top 10 fragrances to help you choose.

Sound
Avoid buying into the hype of expensive gifts by making the classic ‘mix tape’ (or iPod playlist or CD…) from your collection – ‘songs that remind me of you’, songs that have meant something from your relationship…not only will it save you a buck but will also mean a lot to you both – and it is the thought that counts!

Sight
We ladies love the way gorgeous lingerie makes us feel – and our partners love the way we look – a gift for both of you…  Underwear from enamore is not only sexy and beautifully soft, but also made from bamboo – one of the worlds most sustainable fibres.

Taste
Everyone knows that chocolate is the food of love (it is for me anyway…) and gladly chocolate in any recipe can be upped a notch by using Fairtrade certified chocolate (Green and Blacks will be making all their bars Fairtrade very soon). Make a Fairtrade chocolate dessert (Fairtrade Foundation and Divine both have loads of recipes on their websites) – all Co-op own brand chocolate is Fairtrade if you are going for a budget option.

Home made gifts are great as they show value in the time taken over them – insert vouchers in their card for homemade goodies over a period of time – Valentines is not just for one day. It falls on a Sunday so laze around followed by a delicious cooked breakfast…

Touch
Very much linked to the sense of sight, but can be enhanced by removing it – think of blindfolded surprises – so much fun! Make your partner guess what the gift is with their eyes closed. Give or use silk scarves made from softest ‘peace’ or Tassel silk such as these from Nobuntu, and tantalise with the softest touch…use your imagination…

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