British Couture Jeweler Stephen Webster recently visited Peru as guest of Solidaridad, an NGO who's business it is to identify products that are mined, harvested or grown by the world's poorest people, those who might be able to lift themselves out of poverty if they were helped to deliver their products to the market in a responsible and efficient way. Solidaridad thought gold to be a suitable product and were looking for sympathetic jewellers — and found one in Stephen.
His trip is documented in The Independent newspaper this week, authored by Stephen himself. He writes:
Solidaridad kept us informed about the progress of its project. It was working constantly along the supply chain to ensure that by the time the gold reached the consumer it would be 100 per cent traceable. Every now and again we were required to make an adjustment to our business practice. Eventually all the parties, from mines to jeweller, were near to achieving certification. Finally, Fairtrade stepped in.
Best-known for bananas, coffee, cocoa and cotton, Fairtrade is always looking for groups such as Solidaridad to work with. These groups identify and prepare products to the high standards required, then Fairtrade, the most recognised and respected trademark for responsibly sourced products, provides the final level of approval.
It struck me that, as the final link in the ethical supply chain, it would be beneficial to make a trip to the source, thus putting us in a stronger position to enthuse more confidently about ethically mined gold. So my brother and I decided to fly to Peru, for a journey of discovery that has transformed the way we think about the material we have worked with for most of our lives.
"It is the human element that convinces me that "slow gold" is worth supporting," said Webster as he talks about the the people whom he met at the Aurelsa mine which has been working with Solidaridad for four years to achieve Fairtrade certification.
To read about Stephen's trip visit the whole story on the Independent's website here.