By Larry Bohlen
A diverse, international group of jewelry, environmental, and mining stakeholders convened in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 29-30, 2011. They agreed on a common vision of “a world in which jewelry, from mine to market, benefits the environment and everyone that touches it.”
Participants will pursue broad introduction of certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to the US market in 2012.
The group is surveying U.S. jewelers to assess the breadth of interest. The initial launch of Fairtrade gold in the United Kingdom in February 2011 met with overwhelming demand, so supporters in the U.S. are eager to match supply with jewelers who want to employ the gold in their designs.
The group will also undertake a critical examination of standards and work to ensure the best outcome for communities and the environment through the mineral supply chain. The group sees emerging opportunities to build a market for transparent and traceable ethical metals, and discussed other areas of concern including colored gems, diamonds, other precious metals and manufacturing.
Fair Jewelry Action and Ethical Metalsmiths hosted the dialogue attended by Eric Braunwart (Columbia Gem House), Christina Miller (Ethical Metalsmiths), Marc Choyt (Fair Jewelry Action and Reflective Images Inc.), Greg Valerio (Fair Jewellery Action, United Kingdom), Larry Bohlen (Green Leaf Gold), Genevieve Ennis Hume (Hume Atelier, Canada), Bill Gallagher (Lori Bonn Design, Inc.), Christine Dhein, (Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts and Green Jewelry News), and Toby Pomeroy (TOBY POMEROY Jewelry and Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM).
Fairtrade and Fairmined gold certification is the result of a joint effort between Fairtrade International (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). The groups combined their expertise to enable artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) to improve their livelihoods. In exchange for meeting new standards for responsible gold mining, certified miners will receive a guaranteed Fairtrade and Fairmined minimum price, which is democratically reinvested in community projects and improving miners’ operations. Standards include democratic organization, safe working practices, management of toxic chemicals, as well as respect for the environment and women’s rights. Mining organizations will be audited by FLO-CERT, an independent, international certification body, to ensure compliance.
Observing the meeting in Santa Fe were Jennifer Krill (Earthworks) and Maya Spaull (Fair Trade USA). Earthworks is a leading non-profit advocate for cleaner mining practices. Fair Trade USA supports the new gold standard, but as part of its recent withdrawal from the Fairtrade International (FLO) network, Fairtrade and Fairmined licenses in the US. issued through FLO or Fairtrade Canada.
Larry Bohlen is president and founder of Green Leaf Gold, a triple-bottom line gold mining company founded to bring Fair Trade, ecologically mined gold to market.