Greg Valerio, jeweller, activist and Fairtrade campaigner has been awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Years’ Honour list 2016 for his work in Fairtrade Gold and with gold mining communities in South America and Africa.
A jeweller since 1996, Valerio recalls he first saw the exploitation of the jewellery supply chain in India – slavery, child labour and people working in terrible conditions. This experience motivated him to become an activist in the jewellery industry and by 2004 he had managed to deliver the world’s first traceable gold, from mine to wedding ring.
In 2011 Valerio worked with the Fairtrade Foundation to launch the world’s first Fairtrade gold from artisanal and small-scale miners in Peru, Colombia and Bolivia (90% of the labour force involved in gold mining is made up of artisanal and small-scale miners who produce just tiny volumes, between 200-300 tonnes of gold each year).
Valerio commented: “This award belongs to all of us and I hope that it will embolden us all to keep fighting for fairness in the jewellery trade. Jewellery and justice are not incompatible and lost to each other.
"The great challenge we now face is to forge a new luxury jewellery narrative that connects the aspirational emotion of the purchase with the dignity of the source. This is true luxury jewellery, a legacy of peace, justice and prosperity for the communities at the source and a continued celebration of design, creativity and love in the gift that is given.”