It’s no secret that Somerset is crammed with beautiful landscapes and boasts a wide range of natural and manmade structures that people love to see
from all over the UK, but this time it’s a resident that has put Somerset on the map. A pioneering jeweller in Somerset is leading a change in the way jewellery is produced and sold. Erica Sharpe of Somerset is one of the first jewellers in the world to obtain a permit to sell Fairtrade gold.
As more and more companies come under pressure to produce goods and services that are environmentally sustainable, it seems only natural that the jewellery industry would fall under the scrutiny of Fairtrade. Given the geopolitical turmoil surrounding much of the materials required to produce jewellery, it is of little surprise that people like Erica are taking steps to ensure that they can make jewellery with the highest ethical standards.
The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was implemented across the developed world in 2003, which forbids blood diamonds from being traded within its boundaries (diamonds mined in war zones or conflict areas and sold to finance an insurgency or warlord’s activity). Then in 2011 the KPCS scheme was extended to incorporate precious metals and an official Fairtrade gold certification status was launched.
Erica says on her blog
that it might seem like a small step, but it makes big difference:
“Fairtrade certification enables me to guarantee the source of my precious metals and to offer my customers information and choices about their commissions. The difference in cost is a small percentage, but what it means in global terms is very significant indeed. I really believe it’s time for Fairtrade and ethical jewellery to be thought of the first choice for every special piece of jewellery we make, give and wear."
What is Fairtrade Gold?
The Fairtrade certification for gold came about when Fairtrade International and the Alliance for Responsible Mining put their heads together, in an effort to enable small scale minors to improve their working conditions. In order to meet the standards of Fairtrade, miners must ensure that they have developed democratic and accountable organisations and formalised chemicals like mercury and cyanide (which are essential to the gold recovery process) and that they are respectful of the environment and also recognise the rights of woman miners.
It’s likely we’ll start seeing more Fairtrade gold products sold by watch merchants such as this
in the coming years, with the whole jewellery industry under pressure to make the shift over to ethically sourced gold.
You can find Erica’s collection in various locations in Somerset, such as the Somerset Crafts Centre or in Erica’s gallery located in Wedmore.