Why Fairtrade Gold

Why Fairtrade Gold
Small-scale gold miners in Kenya in front of a hand-dug shaft. These miners are working diligently in their process of achieving Fairtrade Gold certification for their mine.
At a Glance
  • Fairtrade Gold gives miners and their families the opportunity to earn a livable wage— and to build their futures by investing in schools, better working conditions, and improved healthcare.
Why Fairtrade Gold?
Simply put, Fairtrade Gold offers the best chance for small scale miners to work their way out of exploitation and poverty.
The Status Quo
There are approximately 15 million artisanal and small-scale (ASM) gold miners worldwide. Though they comprise 90% of the industry’s labor force, these individuals extract only about 15% to 20% of the world’s gold supply. Many ASM miners survive on $1-2/day, and most are subject to unfair terms of trade— along with a lack of basic human rights protections.

Many ASM miners find it difficult or impossible to secure legal mining rights— pushing them into orchestrating illegal operations. Exploited by middlemen, they rarely receive a fair price for their gold— and become ensnared in a cycle of poverty.
The Benefits of Fairtrade Gold Practices
Fairtrade Gold is a groundbreaking initiative that offers a tangible lifeline to these ASM miners and their communities. An independently-audited set of benchmarks created by Fairtrade International, this commercial platform connects retailers to miners through a transparent and traceable supply chain.

Mining organizations work with Fairtrade International to meet stringent Fairtrade standards that touch on working conditions, child labor, women's rights, ‘clean’ technology, health and safety concerns, and responsible environmental management.

ASM miners who comply with Fairtrade standards immediately stand to benefit from these improved working conditions. And monetarily, these ASM miners receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price for their gold— well above what they previously received from middlemen. This augmented income often proves the difference that allows a miner to send his or her kids to school— or afford adequate healthcare.

In addition, these ASM mining communities receive a Fairtrade Premium of $2,000 per kilo of gold. This money is fed back into community-development projects in areas like education and healthcare, or into the further advancement of Fairtrade Gold mining practices.

Of course, the benefits of Fairtrade practices flow both ways. The mine-to-market traceability of Fairtrade Gold means Reflective Jewelry can tell you exactly where the gold in your Fairtrade Gold wedding band came from— something that almost no other jeweler in North America can do.

With Fairtrade Gold, you are assured that miners are compensated fairly for their efforts— and that the land around the mines that sourced your gold is not contaminated with mercury or cyanide. Ethically-sourced Fairtrade Gold products truly embody the heartfelt sentiments that lie behind a wedding ring— or, for that matter, any piece of jewelry with a deep symbolic significance.
Reflective Jewelry and Fairtrade Gold

At present, Reflective Jewelry sources its Fairtrade Gold from mines in Peruincluding Sotrami and Macdesa. We hope in the near future to expand our purchasing to Fairtrade Gold mines located in Africa

Fairtrade Gold is still a new initiative in the jewelry sector, and the supply chain is often tentative. There are only a handful of certified Fairtrade Gold mines in the world. And given their small-scale nature, any hitch in the mining or certification processesor a spike in purchases from large buyerscan affect our ability (as a small company) to purchase this gold.

Because of these issues, we often have had to import our Fairtrade Gold from England something only possible thanks to relationships weve developed with like-minded ethical suppliers over the years. Even across the pond,where hundreds of jewelers offer Fairtrade Gold, the supply can run dry!

Yet another obstacle we face is that, as of June 2017, Fairtrade Gold mill products are still not available in the US. (Mill products include the gold sheets and wire we use to hand-craft many of our rings and jewelry pieces.) Certified Fairtrade Gold also costs us roughly 15-20% more than open-market gold, due to the premiums paid to miners and fees paid to the certification agency.

In spite of all these deterrents, Reflective Jewelry remains deeply committed to offering as much certified Fairtrade Gold as possibleas well as the most ethically-sourced gemstones available. We stand firm in our convictionsdespite the challenges they may cause.

'When you purchase a piece of jewelry crafted from Fairtrade Gold, you're making a palpable difference to the community that sourced it.'

Our Fairtrade Gold Jewelry

Our Katherine Aberle rings can be made with Fairtrade Gold, provided a supply is available. More recently, we began carrying Greg Valerio’s collection of Fairtrade wedding and engagement ringswhich are made in England. (Greg founded the Fairtrade Gold movement and weve worked together on campaigns over the years.) We at Reflective Jewelry can also make our Classic Comfort Fit wedding rings in Fairtrade Gold.

Close to 90% of the gold used in our two-tone gold-over-silver pieces is made with certified Fairtrade Gold from Macdesa or Sotrami. The balance, 10%, is recycled gold inventory remaining from before our certification in 2015. (Because these two-tone, gold over silver products are made with recycled silver and 100% pure certified Fairtrade Gold, they cannot be stamped with the Fairtradetrademark. Instead, they can be referred to with the more general fair trade.)

You can always call us to ask specifically if your two-tone jewelry is made from recycled or Fairtrade Gold were careful to keep track of our inventory! We can also custom-make any piece out of Fairtrade Goldprovided we have the necessary materials.

*As an aside, consider that while recycled precious metals possess an allure of being ethical, they have no impact whatsoever on the mining industry. Only Fairtrade processes can claim to do this.*

What You Can Do

Our goal is to establish Fairtrade Gold practices as the new norm for jewelry in the US. We can do this, but not by ourselves. Just think of the first Fairtrade coffee or chocolate company some forty years ago, and how much those industries have grown today.

By increasing the demand for Fairtrade Gold, we in turn increase the demand for a stronger supply network of Fairtrade Gold mines. But the first step, of course, is to get the word out.

Anyone reading this can do their small part to help: please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. (Or Instagram, or Pinterest.) Share or retweet our posts. This exposure could potentially change the lives of hundreds of thousands of small scale miners.

PS: If you happen to be in the market for jewelry, or know someone who is, think of us! We can custom-make nearly anything you might desireplease dont hesitate to give us a call or shoot us an email.

Why Fairtrade Gold Revisited
Fairtrade offers the millions of people working in ASM mines within developing countries their best chance to escape poverty and exploitation. When you purchase a piece of jewelry crafted from Fairtrade Gold, you're making a palpable difference to the community that sourced it.

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