Fairtrade gold has arrived!

Finally Fairtrade gold is a reality. For all of you who have been waiting for the ultimate in gold, now you can buy jewels with a squeaky clean conscience in the knowledge that the miner has got a fair deal and the environment has been protected.

The first ingot of Fairtrade gold

Finally Fairtrade gold is a reality. For all of you who have been waiting for the ultimate in gold, now you can buy jewels with a squeaky clean conscience in the knowledge that the miner has got a fair deal and the environment has been protected. What better day to launch the first ever  Fairtrade and Fairminedgold than Valentine's Day? Well that is what the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining reckoned as they ushered in the first ingot of gold that will receive the Fairtrade stamp.The message of the day was about putting the heart back into gold. If there could be a slogan attached to Fairtrade gold it would be "share the love". With the arrival of Fairtrade gold, the ring you give your beloved now means a fair deal for everyone, starting with the miner waist-deep in water under the ground. The heart of London's jewellery trade, Hatton Garden, was an appropriate setting for a Bolivian and Peruvian miner to show the world their very special kind of gold. The ingot weighed just under a kilo and a half and felt heftier than it looked as it sat in the palm of my hand for a brief moment. But the real weight behind this pioneer ingot is the message it carries. This little slab of gold, no bigger than a family size bar of Dairy Milk chocolate, will raise awareness of the often dire work conditions of artisanal and small scale miners. Gold bearing the dual Fairtrade and Fairmined Mark ensures that the gold has been mined, processed and traded in a fair and responsible manner. Juan Peña, a single mother of four, from the Cotapata Mining Cooperative that produced this ingot beamed brighter than the gold as she proudly held out the fruits of her team's labour. Projected behind her, was a picture of her in hard hat and overalls at work in the rustic gold processing hut in Cotapata. While down the road, the London Bullion Market Association fixed the twice-daily global price for gold, two miners who have spent their lives toiling away in remote corners of Latin America small scale operations made history with their ingot of gold. Twenty jewellers have signed up to be the first to use this metal and offer us jewels with that nice bold Fairtrade Mark stamped onto the metal. As soon as they can divvy up the first ingot, these jewellers will be working away to get into the shops the first Fairtrade gold jewels. Amongst them is CRED that has for been selling ethically sourced gold jewellery since 1986.  Stephen Webster who plans to offer a bridal range says that he is delighted that for the first time, he can offer people the choice of a Fairtrade wedding or engagement ring. Other jewellers include Ute Decker, Garrard, Linnie McLarty and Pippa Small. I have listed all the jewellers at the end of this article with their websites. And now for the more serious business of where this gold comes from. The ingot is from the Cotapata Mining Cooperative in Bolivia made up of 88 familes that work down an 850 meter-deep mine on the edge of the Yungas rain forest. The Cooperative has both land rights and the concession to mine this area. The reason that this cooperative was the first to receive certification has partly to do with the fact that the cooperative was operating in a State National Park and were already adhering to environmental guidelines. Fairtrade gold has been the work of the Fairtrade Foundation and ARM (Alliance for Responsible Mining). According to the Alliance for Responsible Mining, there are around 15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners in the world, producing some 200-300 tonnes of gold whose existence is characterised by high levels of poverty and described by the Fairtrade Foundation as usually lacking in basic sanitation, clean and safe drinking water and having poor housing, little or no access to education or healthcare and financially unstable. Exciting as the arrival of Fairtrade gold may be, it will only be available in limited quantities. The Fairtrade Foundation envisions the certified gold will account for 5% of the gold jewellery market over a 15-year period. Not a huge amount, but enough to start making a very big change. And as the first pieces of jewellery made from Fairtrade gold arrive in shops later this year, opportunities for thousands of impoverished small-scale and artisanal miners in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will become a reality. The Fairtrade Foundation and its ally ARM hope to extend the certification to Asia and Africa. And what next? Greg Valerio, a fair trade gold pioneer would love to see Fairtrade silver and diamonds. He promises to keep me posted. Twenty jewellers have signed up to be the first to buy the gold, here is the full list: www.amandalihope.com www.aprildoubleday.com www.caratess.co.uk www.credjewellery.com www.econe.co.uk www.elementjewellery.com www.fifibijoux.com/shop www.foundationjewellery.com www.garrard.com www.hkjewellery.co.uk www.ingleandrhode.co.uk/fairtrade-gold www.johntitcombe.co.uk www.leblas.com www.linnimclarty.com www.oriajewellery.co.uk www.pippasmall.com www.stephenwebster.com www.utedecker.com http://jondibben.co.uk

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