Fair Trade Jewelry
The concept of fair trade or ethical jewelry is coming to mean more than jewelry that is made according to fair trade standards like jewelry you might buy from village craftsmen or local artisans. A good example of this can be found at Ten Thousand Villages. Here you will find a beautiful selection of jewelry that is created by artisans paid a fair wage and treated fairly. The artists are encouraged to follow earth friendly processes to bring their artistry alive while often times following age old traditions. These are important considerations that can make a difference in the lives of many people but there is more to consider.
The term fair trade or fair made is being used by some to also mean that the gems and the metals being used in jewelry have been mined ethically and with concern for the environment.
Kinder, Gentler BlingThere is a whole story most of us don't know about where and how jewelry is created. It starts in the ground when that first bit of metal or gemstone is dug up and then ends with a beautiful piece of jewelry. It's the middle of the story that deserves attention. This is where you and I can make a big difference. If we choose fair trade jewelry, it could be a story of ethical sourcing, environmental concern and fair labor.
You can shop for fair trade jewelry that is tracked from how and where metals and gems are mined to the materials used during production on to the labor from thousands of men, women and children around the world employed to create your jewelry. It is truly a creation of fair trade, socially responsible and environmentally sound practices.
While the jewelry industry has begun to address the issues of dirty gold and conflict diamonds there are those who know that this is only part of the picture. What about other metals like silver and platinum or other gems like rubies or sapphires? Companies like Fair Trade Gems fill that gap by offering gems that have been mined following strict environmental and ethical standards.Talk about new ways of doing things. Some jewelers have begun to make changes not only because they know it is the right thing to do but because sophisticated shoppers like you are wanting changes. This is a huge task for those who sell jewelry and for us who buy, it is a new way of looking at jewelry.
What To Look ForWhile thinking of jewelry in this way is new to many of us there are some jewelers who have been working for a long time to create fair trade jewelry following just these very ideas. They are small companies just trying to do the right thing when creating beautiful jewelry.
Many of them are in the UK where thoughts of ethical treatment and green living are a little ahead of us here in the U.S. UK sites like Cred Jewellery are a great place to shop for elegant, unique fine quality jewelry and learn more about fair trade jewelry being made and the tremendous amount of effort that goes in to this commitment to responsible jewelry creation.
Here in the U.S. a handful of jewelry companies are working toward this same goal. Bringing this new way of thought to both the industry and to consumers presents challenges. Since there are no standards companies set their own ethical and environmental guidelines along with systems to track and document gems, metals and the processes involved. Some companies create their own system with the hope that others will adopt their standards.
TransparencyWhen shopping for fair trade jewelry perhaps the best thing you can do is to look for plenty of what is fast becoming a favorite term for those us trying to shop with our values. Transparency.
But what does that mean? It means that a company provides clear information about how they do business such as standards they set for themselves and their suppliers or how they address environmental and ethical concerns etc. Basically, how willing they are to open up their business to scrutiny and to answer with confidence and certainty any questions you might ask. This is a real change in doing things. Many businesses do not like to share everything with their customers or others but this is fast becoming the best model for business.
Where To Shop
- Jewelry and more made by artisans using natural and recycled materials. Fair trade, eco friendly and beautiful. This company works hard to ensure ethical practices are followed. Check out SET Boutique.
- Wonderfully creative and beautiful this is surely fair trade jewelry to please even the most discriminating shopper. Much concern is given to making sure their suppliers are treated fairly, the gems are sourced ethically and with concern for the environment and fair labor practices are followed in all aspects of business. See this beautiful line at Moonrise Jewelry
- Gorgeous and unique silver jewelry designs. They have created a system called Clear Conscience that assures that any jewelry with this designation has been produced in a responsible manner. This beautiful jewelry can be seen at Lori Bonn but is also sold through upscale department stores like Nordstroms.
- A beautiful collection of jewelry whose designs are based on Celtic knots which symbolize the connection of all living things. (See the ring pictured above.) A perfect form of design for a company that understands that we are all connected. They have created a business that reflects their values and have implemented what they call FRE ratings which sets standards of fair made, socially responsible and eco friendly jewelry. Check out Celtic Jewelry.
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