A handful of jewelers are addressing the iniquities of a supply chain that connects the luxury industry with millions of destitute miners digging for gold in atrocious conditions. Becoming certified with Fairtrade not only assumes eliminating child labor and improving working conditions, but miners receive more for their gold (95% instead of 65% of international bullion market price) by shortening the supply chain and through a premium paid to miners who use ethical and ecological practices and follow a transparent supply chain for gold, silver and platinum from small-scale mines in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
Alan Frampton, owner of Cred Jewellery: “It’s a failure of leadership of the jewellery industry, really, that they haven’t wanted to improve the professionalism of their supply chain management. Yes, it’s difficult but it’s not that difficult. A little brand like Cred did it as far back as 2004 and all on our own, not part of some huge luxury conglomerate with infinite resources. The jewellery industry is 25 years behind other industries in transparency and traceability,” Frampton adds. According to Fairtrade International, there are 25 to 30 million artisanal and small-scale miners around the world making up 90% of the world’s labour force in gold extraction. Most barely eke out an existence while doing one of the most backbreaking and dangerous jobs to provide raw materials for luxury goods produced by fashion and jewellery brands. “Lets not beat around the bush, it’s indentured slavery,” Frampton goes on. “Most of them earn around $1 to $2 a day. What really bothers me is that you see these fancy jewellery shops in Europe with fabulous pieces of jewellery, but actually, the stories behind them are not very nice."