by Greg Valerio, Fairtrade jeweller and environmental activist
Doing gold properly. When it comes to raising awareness surrounding the not-so-shiny subject of the injustices within the gold industry, award winning Fairtrade jeweller and environmental activist Greg Valerio, goes straight to the top. After receiving an MBE for his contribution to Fairtrade Gold, Greg acknowledges the people for whom this is truly triumphant and encourages the necessary spread of public awareness.
Never in a million years would I have expected the British establishment to acknowledge the veracity of such an obvious truth. Gold should be Fairtrade. The migration of this simple truth from a ridiculed fantasy treated by the British jewellery establishment (of the early millennium) with disdain, incredulity and intellectual conceit, to the back bone of any ethical conscientious jewellers product claim, is quite frankly a testimony that all things are possible.
Big thank you’s are always due at moments like this. Receiving an MBE from HRH Prince Charles is an honour. An honour extended to everyone who has stood up for Fair Trade ethical principles in our wonderful profession. However, it is an honour that I dedicate to the majority in the jewellery supply chain. The dirt poor, forgotten, marginalised, exploited and vilified artisanal miner. The artisanal miner who anoints and dignifies our gold with the sweat of their hard labour. The artisanal miner who is on the receiving end of jewelleries unjust scales. Scales weighted in favour of a tiny minority of privileged elite brands, invisible middle-men who dishonour us all by exploiting the most vulnerable and stock market listed mining companies. I confess, I am not a fan of the social and environmental aberration called large-scale gold mining.
‘So you are doing gold properly?’ was one of the questions I was asked by Prince Charles.
‘Yes, we are doing gold in a fair, just, righteous and pure way’, was my reply.
I am very proud of what the International Fairtrade movement has created. The best in class artisanal small-scale mining standard, that is delivering community transformation in South American and African gold mining communities where it is being implemented.
For jewellers such as myself we can now create stunning jewellery that has impeccable ethical credentials.
The campaign continues though. Despite the clear and obvious successes, we are still not seeing the levels of public awareness around the huge challenges the gold jewellery supply chain faces. On this more needs to be done by all of us to raise consumer awareness of Fairtrade Gold.
I am looking forward to these new challenges and anticipate a day when the words Fairtrade and Gold become the world’s most popular way of asking for gold jewellery.
For more information about Fairtrade gold, go to http://www.fairgold.org/. To read more about the work of Greg Valerio, visit his website http://www.valeriojewellery.com/.