A Guide To Fairtrade & Ethical Wedding Rings
Finding the right piece of jewellery goes beyond the symbol of love and union for a growing number of newly engaged couples. For them, it’s important to make a statement about ethics as much as aesthetics when buying a wedding ring, so they shop with a clear conscience by choosing ethical jewellery.
For some years now, buying Fairtrade has meant that farmers get a fair price for their tea, coffee, cotton and bananas. Now the movement is having an impact on people’s choice of gold.
The number of Fairtrade-accredited jewellers in the UK is growing to meet the demand from couples wanting to know the provenance of their wedding jewellery. After all, it sends out the message you care as much for the world around you and the people in it as much as your commitment to your intended.
Creating a better life for miners
Fairtrade gold is extracted through artisanal and small-scale mining operations. It supports miners in eliminating child labour, working their way out of the circle of exploitation and poverty and reducing the harmful impacts of the mercury used in extraction of the precious metal.
In 2015, Fairtrade launched an ‘I Do’ campaign aimed at the UK wedding market because not enough people knew about Fairtrade Gold.
‘The idea was that people would understand that by choosing Fairtrade gold, they could help create a better life for miners and their communities’, said Amy Ross, Fairtrade’s International Project Manager for the gold and precious metals programme.
Fairtrade Gold miners receive a guaranteed fair minimum price and a premium to spend on improving their business or on community projects such as education, clean water and healthcare. The certification means these small-scale miners meet Fairtrade Standards.
A global movement
There are 15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners in the world, with a further 100 million dependents of these miners. Small-scale miners extract between 10-15% of the global gold supply chain, yet make up over 90% of the labour force in mining operations. These miners – both men and women – often work long hours in hazardous conditions.
There are now Fairtrade-certified mining organisations in Peru, Uganda and Kenya, and the global movement is working to increase these certifications in other countries.
You can be certain that the gold carrying the Fairtrade Gold trademark is completely traceable and produced responsibly; the designers and jewellers working with this gold will advise you. When you decide on the ring it will also come with a certification.
Choosing the ring together is less scary
If you decide to take the social conscious route, what should you look for when choosing ethical jewellery? Here are a few suggestions for looking for that special ring.
If it’s a surprise proposal, borrow a ring belonging to your loved one to get a rough ring guide size. You will be able to download ring sizes or check with a jeweller. Even better and less scary is choosing the ring together as it’s a big risk surprising someone with a ring – they may hate your choice!
Things to consider are: what colour jewellery does your partner wear? Does she have a favourite stone, or what about her birth stone? It will also need to suit what the woman wears everyday and be suitable for her lifestyle.
Coloured stones stand out
As well as the style, there’s the setting, cut and stone to decide on. Diamonds are the classic choice for an engagement ring, but coloured stones are a continuing trend because they stand out.
Famous people who have coloured gemstone engagement rings include Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, who has an 18-carat blue diamond and sapphire ring that once belonged to Princess Diana.
In 1795, Napoleon gave his Josephine a tear-shaped sapphire and diamond in a setting called ‘You and Me’ that was popular in the 18th century. That ring was auctioned in France in 2013 for nearly a million dollars. When John F Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, he gave her a gorgeous diamond and emerald ring costing a million dollars.
The right ring is just like the bride’s dress and mother of the bride’s outfit – when you see it and try it you’ll know it is for you.