On Wednesday 14 January 08.30 am, an eye-catching human ring of gold will form outside Britain’s most iconic church, St Paul’s Cathedral, to symbolize the human chain of miners who toil to make our gold rings in difficult circumstances.
The event launches the Fairtrade Foundation’s new national ‘I DO’ campaign to encourage brides and grooms in the UK to buy Fairtrade gold rings ahead of Valentine’s Day. An estimated $1 million (£650,000) in Fairtrade Premium could be generated through 50,000 couples choosing 100,000 Fairtrade gold wedding rings to invest in improving education, healthcare and livelihoods for some of the poorest mining communities across the world.
There are 15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners globally producing 10-15 % of the world’s gold supplies. Despite the alluring promise of a better livelihood this is actually one of the world’s most dangerous industries with miners earning as little as $1 per day. It is rife with exploitation and daily contact with toxic chemicals used to process gold such as mercury, cyanide and nitric acid means workers risk disease, serious injury, premature births and even death.
Fairtrade is publishing an Industry Briefing to explain the complexities behind the gold mining industry and itsnew Standard for Gold & Precious Metals to help protect miners and their families against poverty and exploitation, revising the standard first introduced in 2011. The new standard will encourage best practice and be in line with changes in international regulation and legislation around the production and trade of so-called ‘conflict minerals’, of which gold is considered one. Under the new standard miners are now required to:
- Uphold human rights policy preventing war crimes, bribery, money laundering and child labour
- Clearly represent where the minerals were mined
- Try to minimise the risks of conflict minerals through robust risk assessments and collaboration across supply chains
- Report to buyers and trading partners regarding the risks of conflict minerals
Since becoming certified in 2010, Fairtrade mining organizations in Peru have invested in healthcare, education and improved equipment and later in 2015 nine mining groups in *East Africa hope to benefit from similar positive social and economic impacts when they become Fairtrade certified in 2015.
Speaking at the press event in Marylebone later that morning, Amy Ross, Fairtrade Gold Project Manager will say: “Gold is such a beautiful product associated with romance, shine and history. By creating traceability and provenance through Fairtrade, that gold becomes extra special. We all share responsibility to the planet and to each other so our hope for the future is that, as well as asking what carat their ring is, people start to ask where it came from and who mined it.
“Unfortunately not enough people know about Fairtrade gold, which is why we are running the campaign. By choosing Fairtrade gold you can help create a better life for miners and their communities. Fairtrade gold supports miners to eliminate child labour, work their way out of the vicious circle of exploitation and poverty and reduce the harmful impacts of mercury. Fairtrade hopes to now engage with gold in the same way it has with tea, coffee and bananas.”
A recent survey* found that only 16% of people said they are familiar with Fairtrade gold as opposed to 64% who are familiar with Fairtrade tea or coffee, yet over half, 56% of people think that buying Fairtrade products is the responsible thing to do. A further 31% thought that Fairtrade gold is more expensive than normal gold when this is not necessarily the case.
A total of 59 UK jewellers are already licensed to use the Fairtrade gold stamp on their pieces along with a further 102 goldsmiths who are registered to sell Fairtrade gold, so there is a wide range of jewellers and designers to choose from when buying jewellery.
The press launch will also unveil a two-week public exhibition of some of the latest Fairtrade bridal jewellery from 13 different goldsmiths. The Fairtrade Foundation has partnered with jewellers Cox & Power who are hosting the display and press event.
A dedicated website www.fairtrade.org.uk/IDo has been created for the campaign. It will offer one lucky couple the opportunity to win a set of 18ct wedding bands worth £1,500 made from Fairtrade gold from Ingle & Rhode. Couples will be asked to upload romantic stories to the hub and the winners will be selected by the public who will vote on the most romantic story submitted. In addition, the website will contain inspirational wedding stories, tips on how to choose the perfect ring and suggestions about where to buy.
The campaign, which launches first in the UK will be replicated in other Fairtrade markets globally starting with Switzerland, aims to sell 100,000 wedding rings to 50,000 couples. Around 250,000 marriages take place annually in the UK.