Why Fairtrade Gold

Why Fairtrade Gold
Small-scale gold miners in Kenya in front of a hand-dug shaft. These miners are working diligently in their process of achieving Fairtrade Gold certification for their mine.
At a Glance
  • Fairtrade Gold gives miners and their families the opportunity to earn a livable wage— and to build their futures by investing in schools, better working conditions, and improved healthcare.
Why Fairtrade Gold?
Simply put, Fairtrade Gold offers the best chance for small scale miners to work their way out of exploitation and poverty.
The Status Quo
There are approximately 15 million artisanal and small-scale (ASM) gold miners worldwide. Though they comprise 90% of the industry’s labor force, these individuals extract only about 15% to 20% of the world’s gold supply. Many ASM miners survive on $1-2/day, and most are subject to unfair terms of trade— along with a lack of basic human rights protections.

Many ASM miners find it difficult or impossible to secure legal mining rights— pushing them into orchestrating illegal operations. Exploited by middlemen, they rarely receive a fair price for their gold— and become ensnared in a cycle of poverty.
The Benefits of Fairtrade Gold Practices
Fairtrade Gold is a groundbreaking initiative that offers a tangible lifeline to these ASM miners and their communities. An independently-audited set of benchmarks created by Fairtrade International, this commercial platform connects retailers to miners through a transparent and traceable supply chain.

Mining organizations work with Fairtrade International to meet stringent Fairtrade standards that touch on working conditions, child labor, women's rights, ‘clean’ technology, health and safety concerns, and responsible environmental management.

ASM miners who comply with Fairtrade standards immediately stand to benefit from these improved working conditions. And monetarily, these ASM miners receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price for their gold— well above what they previously received from middlemen. This augmented income often proves the difference that allows a miner to send his or her kids to school— or afford adequate healthcare.

In addition, these ASM mining communities receive a Fairtrade Premium of $2,000 per kilo of gold. This money is fed back into community-development projects in areas like education and healthcare, or into the further advancement of Fairtrade Gold mining practices.

Of course, the benefits of Fairtrade practices flow both ways. The mine-to-market traceability of Fairtrade Gold means Reflective Jewelry can tell you exactly where the gold in your Fairtrade Gold wedding band came from— something that almost no other jeweler in North America can do.

With Fairtrade Gold, you are assured that miners are compensated fairly for their efforts— and that the land around the mines that sourced your gold is not contaminated with mercury or cyanide. Ethically-sourced Fairtrade Gold products truly embody the heartfelt sentiments that lie behind a wedding ring— or, for that matter, any piece of jewelry with a deep symbolic significance.
Reflective Jewelry and Fairtrade Gold

We at Reflective Jewelry source our Fairtrade Gold from Peru. In 2015 and 2016, we sourced from Sotrami. Since 2017, our source has shifted to Macdesa. We hope in the near future to expand our purchasing to Fairtrade Gold mines located in Africa, but the supply there is still extremely limited.

Fairtrade Gold is still a new initiative in the jewelry sector, and the supply chain is often tenuous. There are only a handful of certified Fairtrade Gold mines in the world. And, given the small-scale nature of these operations, any hitch in the mining or certification processes—or a spike in purchases from large buyers—can affect our ability (as a small company) to purchase this gold.

Our gold typically travels from Peru to an importer in England before being sent to us—and this is only possible thanks to personal relationships we’ve developed over the years. Even‘across the pond,’where hundreds of jewelers offer Fairtrade Gold, the supply can almost run dry, as it did in the fall of 2017!

Yet another obstacle we face is that Fairtrade Gold mill products are still not available in the US. (Mill products include the gold sheets and wire we use to hand-craft many of our rings and jewelry pieces.) We are hopeful that this situation will change sometime in 2018.

Certified Fairtrade Gold also costs us roughly 20% more than open-market gold. Learn about the details of Fairtrade Gold costing here.


'When you purchase a piece of jewelry crafted from Fairtrade Gold, you're making a palpable difference to the community that sourced it.'

Our Fairtrade Gold Jewelry

In May of 2018, our supply chain was audited by FLOCert. We are now not only the first (and still, as of June, 2018, only) Fairtrade Gold jeweler in the US, we are also the only fully certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler. It takes three years to earn this certification.

In spite of all the challenges, Reflective Jewelry remains deeply committed to offering as much certified Fairtrade Gold as possible—as well as the most ethically-sourced gemstones available. When we don’t know the chain of custody of our gemstones to back up any ethical claim, such as in the case of some of some of our garnets, amethyst, and peridots, we tell you so.

And over the past year, we’ve made tremendous strides in our Fairtrade Gold offerings!

We can make any item in that we produce in solid gold, including our wedding rings and engagement rings with Fairtrade Gold. Our Classic Comfort Fit wedding rings, for instance, are made entirely by hand, starting with 24K gold which we alloy and form ourselves in our studio.

Additionally, much of our two-tone gold-over-silver jewelry is made with fair trade gold—including the two-tone rings shown under the fair trade gold ring category. (Because these two-tone designs are made with both 100% pure certified Fairtrade Gold and recycled silver, they cannot be stamped with the ‘Fairtrade’ trademark or referred to as being ‘Fairtrade.’ Instead, they can only be referenced with the more general‘fair trade.’ But this is still the same gold.)

We are still in the process of transitioning some of our two-tone wedding rings to fair trade gold. The issue is that the designs themselves are made of 18K gold, and to produce these we need to have 18K gold sheets made, which can require 12 ounces of gold—that’s more than we can afford to have in stock devoted to making sheets. But this problem is typical of the kinds of issues we’ve been dealing with over the past three years as pioneers.

Here are a few articles you might find helpful: learn about Fairtrade Gold vs. fair trade gold here, and learn why recycled gold is really greenwashed dirty gold.

What You Can Do

Our goal is to establish Fairtrade Gold practices as the new norm for jewelry in the US. We can do this, but not by ourselves. Just think of the first Fairtrade coffee or chocolate company some forty years ago, and how much those industries have grown today.

By increasing the demand for Fairtrade Gold, we in turn increase the demand for a stronger supply network of Fairtrade Gold mines. But the first step, of course, is to get the word out.

Anyone reading this can do their small part to help: please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. (Or Instagram, or Pinterest.) Share or retweet our posts. This exposure could potentially change the lives of hundreds of thousands of small scale miners.

PS: If you happen to be in the market for jewelry, or know someone who is, think of us! We can custom-make nearly anything you might desireplease dont hesitate to give us a call or shoot us an email.

Why Fairtrade Gold Revisited
Fairtrade offers the millions of people working in ASM mines within developing countries their best chance to escape poverty and exploitation. When you purchase a piece of jewelry crafted from Fairtrade Gold, you're making a palpable difference to the community that sourced it.

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