Tag Archives: fairtrade jewellery

Would you like Meghan Markle to buy your jewellery?

It’s been in the news over the last week or so that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has been choosing to wear jewellery brands that use ethical materials and have sustainable business practices. However, if you’ve looked into it you’ll know that this is not as straightforward to do as you would hope. There’s so much to think about including mining practices and their environmental and workforce effects; the mining of precious metals; the use of chemicals in the workshop and so much more. This is why we have been working with expert Stuart Pool to create a new one-day course in Ethical Jewellery especially for our students. The course is designed primarily for jewellery business owners who want to feel more informed about their ethical options but is open to all with an interest in the subject.

What is covered in the course?
  • Industry issues and why we need responsible sourcing of metals and gemstones 
  • Gold & silver – Fairtrade & Fairmined options 
  • Diamonds & gemstones – including sourcing options and buying tips, mining and the journey of the gemstone, man-made stones 
  • Your workplace – what you can do in your own space to be more ethical 
  • And more! 
This intensive one day workshop will be taught for 8 students as a maximum, ensuring you have time to discuss your business and get specific advice from Stuart. You will receive a certificate of completion in Ethical Jewellery at the end of the workshop.
ethical jewellery class at the London Jewellery School
Who is the guest tutor?
Stuart Pool is a specialist in responsibly mined and fully traceable coloured gemstones, mainly sourced directly from mines in Sri Lanka and Tanzania. He runs gem trading companies Nineteen48 (www.nineteen48.com), Rubyfair (www.rubyfair.com) and Crown Gems, as well as being a co-founder of Fair Luxury (www.fairlux.co.uk), a group focused on positive change in the jewellery industry.
Stuart works very closely with local mine owners to provide a mine-to-market service, from extracting the rough gem material and the cutting and polishing of gemstones, right up to the sale of gems to the end customer, both wholesale and retail. The emphasis throughout the supply chain is on maximum transparency and fair benefits to everyone involved.
Stuart’s companies support charitable projects in both Sri Lanka and the UK and he is also committed to educating the widest possible audience about the issues within the jewellery sector. He is supportive of many initiatives and programmes within the industry which are trying to improve conditions and benefits for those involved in all stages of the supply chains for diamonds, precious metals and coloured gems.
As Stuart is busy with his own work we currently only have two dates available for this course in 2019 and half the places are now gone for the February course so don’t wait to enrol.
Who knows who will choose your jewellery if you create an ethical jewellery brand. Maybe royalty.

In the jewellery workshop: Ethically sourcing gemstones

London Jewellery School tutor Penny Akester recently wrote about sourcing fair trade metals now she turns her attention to gemstones in her final article on more sustainable jewellery making.

If you’re working in gemstones, (and this applies to a lot of other materials too) – don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers where their stones are sourced from.

Many materials are so anonymous when we receive them that it’s hard to know how they were processed or where the raw materials come from, but if people keep asking and searching, the supply chains and sources will start to become more open, allowing us to make more informed decisions about the materials we choose to use in our jewellery.

ethically sourced gemstones

Ethically sourced gems from Brazil Gems

Why ask?
Gemstones, just like metals, can be mined in terrible circumstances with no regard to the workers safety or human rights, or consideration given to the environment in the mining process and chemicals used.

As well as mining stones from their original source, there are also health, environmental and human rights problems often created where the stones are cut and processed.

On top of this there are ongoing problems, especially with diamonds with both rough and cut stones being sold to fund conflict and violence.

The Kimberley Process
This is an international certificate system that has been in place since 2003 aiming to prevent the sale of conflict diamonds. This unfortunately is not very successful and as it does not certify individual stones, it only relates to batches of rough stones and as well as not tracking stones once they are cut, has a lot of other loopholes that mean in effect that a lot of conflict diamonds are still entering the market.

What Can Jewellers Do?
If you want to know about the stones you use, find a supplier that makes the effort to ensure that their stones are traceable and will be able to tell you where your stones have come from, as well as where else they have passed through.

The more you can know about them the better – for example – it’s no help to the few miners struggling to build peace and work ethically in otherwise troubled countries like the Congo if jewellers avoid buying diamonds from the entire region, or if a stone comes from a responsible mine but has been cut in a factory in India using forced labour.

Some suppliers that sell ethically sourced gemstones include:

(if you know of others – do share their details here too!)

For more information about ethically sourcing gemstones, see:


In the jewellery workshop: Fairtrade precious metals

Following her look at going green in the workshop LJS tutor Penny Akester investigates how you can ethically source precious metals and a new scheme to make access to Fairtrade metals easier for small jewellery businesses.

Although the jewellery industry by the very nature of the precious materials we use, automatically recycles a vast amount of metals, and stones are taken out of old pieces and re-set, massive amounts of silver, gold and other precious metals and stones are still mined all over the world.

Mining for metals is one of the more environmentally damaging industries, as well as being associated with a lot of human rights violations including forced labour and child labour.

If you work in precious metals and want to help make a difference there are currently two options available…

Recycled Silver
Although the merit of this is debatable, as around 80% of the standard silver bought is likely to be recycled already, specifically buying recycled silver (like Cookson’s Ecosilver) ensures that the silver you work with is traceable and ensured to be 100% from recycled sources.

Ethical jewellery recycling

Recycling metals reduces waste but ethical sourcing in the first place can make a difference

You can also learn to recycle your own silver to reduce waste.

Fairtrade Gold and Silver
Fairtrade gold has been available since 2011 and silver since 2013 – these are metals mined according to a strict and independently audited standard that ensures both the environmental and human consequences of mining are well managed.

The miners of Fairtrade metals get paid a fair price, the metal is mined safely and in environmentally responsible conditions, and that it is not being sold to fund conflicts. As well as this, the system ensures money is put back into the local community to help with education, health and basic needs for the local area.

To use Fairtrade gold or silver you need to be registered – the system relies on the fact that the metal is traceable from the mine to finished jewellery, so licencing people trading in the metal at all stages of the journey is vital.

To be a full licence holder jewellers need to use a minimum volume of metal each year and register the designs with the Fairtrade organisation. From April 2014, there will be an extra scheme launched specifically to enable small businesses and independent jewellers to use Fairtrade metals – The Goldsmiths Registration Scheme. Users of this new scheme can register for free and will not be able to use the full Fairtrade marks, but will be able to access Fairtrade silver and gold and to tell their customers that their metal is ethically sourced. To find out more and sign up for information when this scheme is launched next month click here.

For more information check out the Fairtrade organisation at www.fairtrade.org.uk/gold/
as well as: