Many of us are willing to pay extra for artisan bread. We appreciate the quality of ingredients, the long, traditional process that has gone into creating the loaf, and the care and expertise that artisan bakers use.
So we’re curious to know what images come to mind when you think of small-scale artisanal mining? Groups of people panning for gold, smiles on their faces, and working with hand tools doing something they love?
You might be shocked to learn that artisanal and small-scale mining can cause devastation to both people and the environment. More than 100 million people rely on small-scale mining for their income; yet it is largely unregulated.
Sadly, mining is one of the most destructive activities in the world, and has been linked to terrible environmental, social justice and human rights violations. Workers get exploited and the work is back breaking and soul breaking. Depending on the method used, landscapes get altered – changing the entire ecosystem within the area – highly toxic chemicals contaminate land and water, and miners’ lives are put at risk.
Similarly jewellery manufacturing – from fine jewellery to costume jewellery – has a dark and dirty back-story, with exploitation and shocking working conditions a common occurrence.
So it’s vital to consider what your jewellery is made from and the source of the materials and the piece. The jewellery brands we work with focus on ethical sourcing and they are part of a small but growing cohort of groundbreaking businesses that are challenging the jewellery industry to clean up its act.
We know that you care about this as much as we do, so here are some top tips to help you to source ethical jewellery, wherever you choose to shop.
Find jewellers who use recycled metals
Sourcing recycled metals means you are not having precious metals mined especially for you. This in turn reduces global demand for newly mined metals, diminishing the environmentally and socially damaging effects of these practices.
Mosami create handmade conscious & sustainable jewellery in Thailand which is made from Fairtrade or reclaimed silver.
La Jewellery sells beautiful British made jewellery designed by Lisa Anne, all made using recycled materials.
Choose antique or vintage
Buying antique jewellery is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and the ultimate in recycling! Antique jewellery brings benefits to you too, such as the chance you will be wearing a unique item. Even better, when you’re tired of wearing it pass it on to a new custodian.
Is there a family heirloom you could have refashioned?
Perhaps you have your Grandmother’s ring which could be re-fashioned to fit you. Family heirlooms carry significant positive energy and have a unique personal history. Why leave it forgotten in the drawer when with a few small adjustments it could be making your hands sparkle?!
Buy Fair trade
By purchasing fair trade you are helping people enjoy a decent life. Prices for fair trade silver are set between the miners and the buyers directly to cut out the potential for exploitation. In addition, miners earn an extra 5% on top of the premium, if they work without the use of toxic chemicals such as mercury or cyanide.
Mosami sell a unique and beautiful collection of thoughtful silver jewellery made from ethical and fairtrade silver, all designed in the UK.
People Tree have a reputation as the fair trade fashion pioneer. Their jewellery range adds a touch of glamour to your outfit.
Go bespoke with independent ethical jewellers
By commissioning a bespoke item from an independent designer/jeweller, you can be sure you’re getting something made from ethical materials as well as something beautiful & unique to wear. Supporting independent jewellers is also a great way to invest in small business and your local arts community. Find a Fairtrade jeweller on the Fairtrade Gold website here and sparkling ethical gems sourced in Sri Lanka from Nineteen 48 here.