Fair and responsible jewellery: the only commitment for a sustainable future
Fair and responsible jewellery is working to produce a positive impact on jewellery activity at a social and environmental level
Jewellery is an economic activity that, like any other, can be ethical, fair, responsible and sustainable. The extraction of gold, diamonds and other precious materials have an impact at an environmental, social and economic level. But this impact can be sustainable and can guarantee respect for human rights. And it can be achieved by means of ethical practices encompassed in fair and responsible jewellery.
Fair and responsible jewellery is a real alternative that enables us to counteract the social, economic and environmental impacts of jewellery activity. And aware of the need to structure real alternatives to traditional mining and jewellery-making activities, in recent years initiatives have emerged aimed at creating a social standard for fair and responsible jewellery.
The first of them was the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), established in 2004. The aim of the ARM is to transform artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) into a socially and environmentally responsible activity. One year later, in 2005, the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) was founded, a non-profit organisation that endeavours to promote responsible social and environmental practices that respect human rights throughout the supply chain of precious materials.
Both associations establish a code of responsible, ethical and sustainable social and environmental practices in the jewellery industry. In fact, both the ARM and the RJC establish codes of practice that encompass all jewellery activity and which include multiple international standards in human rights, ethical trade, transparency, mining activity, handling of chemical products, labour rights and respect for the environment.
Development, environment, social impact and dignified employment: the four pillars of fair and responsible jewellery
All these standards adopted for fair and responsible jewellery are divided into four major areas of action: organisational development, environmental protection, social development and working conditions.
Firstly, fair and responsible jewellery seeks the organisational development of artisanal and small-scale mining organisations. This development must guarantee that the mining activity is undertaken legally and with a guaranteed minimum price of the work done. This way, the aim is to empower the organisations and establish codes of good practice at a business level, as well as establish ethical commercial relationships and beneficial for all the parties concerned.
On these lines, between 2012 and 2014, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) developed the Fairmined standard, which aims to support the sustainable development of the organisations and communities of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). Later, in 2017, the ARM passed the Market Entry Standard. This standard allows more artisanal miners to have access to legal supply chains, despite not complying with the advanced requirements of the Fairmined Standard. With these standards the aim is also to produce continuous improvement opportunities in mining organisations and involve the buyers to order to generate positive changes in the mining communities.
One of the raisons d’être of fair and responsible jewellery is the raising of awareness of the jewellery sector regarding the environment. In this sense, fair and responsible jewellery is committed to small-scale operations that guarantee non-existent or greatly reduced environmental impact. Both the ARM and the RJC have obligatory protocols in the handling of chemical products in the extraction of precious metals. One example of these is the Fairmined certification (link gold article), that also establishes mechanisms to protect the water sources close to gold mines.
In this way, fair and responsible jewellery aims to have a positive impact on the environment in all the traceability of precious metals but also in the activity of the jewellery companies. It is therefore also committed to good practices all along the supply chain, with the incentive of waste reduction and a commitment to easily recyclable packaging.
Dignified working conditions
Another sphere of action of fair and responsible jewellery is the guarantee of respecting labour rights. In this sense, the Fairmined Standard of the ARM guarantees dignified and safe conditions for the workers of the mining associations. Moreover, it also works on the creation of stable jobs for the miners and protects their right to organise.
Finally, we can identify the fourth pillar of fair and responsible jewellery in social development. We companies that are committed to fashion and fair and responsible jewellery also have a compromise to promoting the wellbeing of the mining communities, working for sex equality and protecting the rights of minors.
The Origen Group, a challenge for stimulating critical awareness and debate in the jewellery sector
With the aim of strengthening fair and responsible jewellery, in 2020 the Origen Group was formed, an initiative made up of eight responsible jewellery companies and the NGO Medicus Mundi Mediterránea, of which Majoral is a founding member.
The Origen Group was formed around a manifesto that backs “a process of change towards a model of responsible jewellery based on the traceability of the raw materials and transparency”. Working the jewellery ethically and sustainably also means forming a part of the responsible practices and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations for 2030. An ethical, responsible and sustainable jewellery is possible, and only depends on us!