I can't wait to tell you more about the first ever Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. Unfortunately I am gagged until the launch on the 14th February so for the moment all I can tell you is in the post below. Sorry, but no lovely pictures yet! Fairtrade gold has been a long time coming and the project has been the work of the Fairtrade Foundation and ARM (Alliance for Responsible Mining). At the launch next week, the arrival of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is expected to make a big splash. The shimmering nuggets will raise awareness of the often dire work conditions of artisanal and small scale miners and set about making this sector fairer for all. Now there is an alternative. As the first pieces of jewellery made from Fairtrade gold hit the shops later this year, opportunities for thousands of impoverished small-scale and artisanal miners in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will start to become a reality and has the potential to radically reform the gold jewellery sector. The press release from the Fairtrade Foundation tells us: "though artisanal and small-scale miners produce 10% of global gold supplies, they account for 90% of labour in gold extraction, experiencing high levels of poverty. The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold provides a lifeline for communities who find themselves at the mercy of volatile markets, when agriculture and other livelihoods are not viable." "Many miners often face exploitation from middle men who pay below market prices and cheat them on weight and purity of the gold content. Mining communities usually lack basic sanitation, clean and safe drinking water and have poor housing, little or no access to education or healthcare and are financially unstable. Fairtrade and Fairmined certification is an important development tool, and will complement other development interventions." "The project was first piloted by ARM with nine mining organisations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. More mining organisations from Latin America will shortly join the system. ARM is also establishing a network of pilot projects in Africa, and later in Asia." "Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will be first launched in the UK and then rolled out to other countries with a long term vision of capturing 5% of the gold jewellery market over a 15-year period. Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will be co-labelled, bearing both the FAIRTRADE Mark and the Fairmined Mark, demonstrating the strength of the partnership between the two organisations." "The Fairmined Mark ensures that the gold has been extracted and processed in a fair way and responsible manner. This means that the miners receive a fair price, good health and safety practises, care for the environment and participate in the social development of their communities. ARM is an international community-based multi-sector governed initiative created to enhance equity and wellbeing in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities. ARM is committed to social justice and environmental responsibility as the values driving the transformation of ASM." Watch this space for more on this exciting development and be the first to see pictures of the new wave of gold jewellery.