If you’re looking for fair trade jewelry, then you might be wondering what you should be looking for. After all, what does fair trade jewelry really mean? And what’s to stop someone from saying their jewelry is fair trade, when really it isn’t?
These are tough questions. Without the standard certification requirements like in the food industry, it’s hard to regulate fair trade jewelry and handicrafts. But, it’s still possible to make good decisions when you to go buy fair trade jewelry.
1. Make sure the piece is made from fair trade/ethical/recycled gold
Many people don’t think about it much, but gold mining is incredibly damaging to the environment. And, this is an industry that has a long history of employing child labor, exploiting workers, and even using slaves to mine for gold.
Oro Verde gold, mined in Columbia, South America, is one of the world’s only fair trade gold producers. They practice sustainable mining practices, and provide their miners with fair wages and safe working conditions.
If possible, it’s always best to go with recycled gold. This means that the piece was using gold that has already been mined and used, which means you’re not consuming new resources.
You can learn more about sustainable gold mining by visiting the Alliance for Responsible Mining.
2. Make sure the diamonds are conflict free
Most of the world’s diamonds come from Africa. But the problem is that these diamond mines are often controlled people or companies who fund groups that have committed some of the horrific atrocities in Africa. The profits from these mines also help fund civil wars that have killed millions of people.
It’s important to find out exactly where the diamond comes from. The reason is because many companies will claim they offer conflict-free diamonds, but this isn’t always entirely correct. Many diamond producing countries may not be in “open conflict”, but they still might be in a state of warfare, employing child labor, exploiting workers, or committing abuses on the local population.
When shopping for diamonds, your best bet will be to go with Canadian diamonds.
3. Look for jewelry produced on a small scale
Here at Earth Divas, our jewelry is produced by women in their homes. They use local seeds and beads, and produce each piece by hand. Everything is done on a very small scale.
The larger an operation gets, the harder it is to stay on top of every stage in the process. The more “middle men” that get involved, the harder it is to pay artisans a fair wage and make sure they’re being treated fairly.
When you’re looking for fair trade jewelry, try and make sure it’s produced on a smaller scale.
Until a standard certification process exists, it’s going to be difficult to make sure each and every company is telling the truth about fair trade jewelry. But by researching and asking questions on your own, you can make good decisions. Good luck!
Filed under: Fair Trade Basics on February 25th, 2010