The UK is saying I Do with Fairtrade – will you?

© Written by Rachael Taylor for JewelleryNetAsia

This year in the UK there has been a distinct push to move Fairtrade gold higher up on the agenda of a very important customer group – soon-to-be newlyweds. And as we enter into the fourth month of the Fairtrade Foundation’s I Do campaign, soon to be rolled out worldwide, there are distinct signs of success.

Last month a shipment of 15kg of Fairtrade gold was delivered to the UK, landing on the doorstep of ethical jeweller Cred. That’s enough gold to make more than 3,700 wedding bands.

Cred has been a driving force in the ethical jewellery industry since 1996 and got involved in importing fair trade jewellery into the UK a decade ago. In fact, it was the first retailer in Europe to sell independently certified fair trade gold, as well as the first high street boutique in the UK to only sell ethical jewellery. It also claims to have been the creator of the world’s first pair of environmentally and sociably responsible wedding bands back in 2003.

“Fairtrade gold is getting real traction now as more and more people are asking where their gold comes from,” says Cred chief executive Alan Frampton, who adds that Cred has had increased demand for Fairtrade gold since the launch of the I Do campaign from both customers new to the metal and those now looking to expand their collections. “Knowing that the lives of the miners are enhanced by the Fairtrade premium makes it the best gold in the world.”

While Cred might have been a pioneer, it is now far from the only jewellery company keen to work with Fairtrade gold, and the number is growing. Since the launch of the Fairtrade Foundation’s I Do campaign in January, 33 more goldsmiths in the UK have signed up to sell Fairtrade gold – an incredibly significant amount.

The aim of the I Do campaign is to try and get couples setting out to buy their wedding rings to stop and think about where that gold comes from and to encourage them to ask jewellers questions about the gold’s provenance. And the target set for the campaign is to convert 50,000 couples to buy 100,000 Fairtrade gold rings, which would lead to a premium of US$1 million for the impoverished mining communities supported by the Fairtrade Foundation around the world.

This money, generated by a premium paid to miners on top of a set fair price for the gold they deliver, will allow them to invest in healthcare, education and anything else that they need to prosper. Most importantly, it means that Fairtrade can continue to pay gold miners a fair wage for the work they do.

The campaign is already helping Fairtrade gold gain momentum in the UK, and if the I Do campaign succeeds in converting even a fraction of consumers buying the 500,000 wedding bands expected to sell in the UK this year then the Fairtrade Foundation will have achieved something truly exceptional.

Big changes start with small steps, and the UK was the first step in what will be an attempt to change attitudes across the globe. Switzerland will be the next country I Do will launch in, so let’s hope it, and all the other countries to follow, will be just as successful, or even more so.

This article was originally published on JewelleryNetAsia on 28.05.15. I write a weekly column for this website about global jewellery trends. 

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