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Why Fairtrade Fairmined gold is for us

With World Fair Trade Day on 12 May we thought it was a good time to share the stories of those who are making fair trade an important part of weddings by working with or choosing Fairtrade and Fairmined gold wedding and engagement rings.

We asked couples and jewellers to give us their thoughts on why Fairtrade and Fairmined gold - launched just last year - makes sense to them.

Fairtrade jewellery: a credible choice

We began our tour of Fairtrade Fairmined gold supporters with CRED Jewellery, whose founder, Greg Valerio, spearheaded the campaign to bring Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to market and who were the first jewellery company to bring Fairtrade wedding rings to the public. They created the first jewellery to be hallmarked with the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard for Livia Firth to wear on the Oscars red carpet in 2011.

Annabel Panes CRED Jewellery designer

Annabel Panes is a designer for CRED who has helped to create the company's first off-the-shelf Fairtrade wedding ring range which went into the shops in February 2012. Annabel tells us:

"The thing I love about using Fairtrade gold is that you know that every aspect of the piece is beautiful. I know exactly where every piece of gold in my designs has come from.

"The importance of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is in recognising that the gold brings value and worth to those who have mined it. That worth is forwarded on to the person who buys it - marking an event in their lives with a piece which is of equal significance to the people who mined it.

"From a design point of view, the journey to use the gold hasn't been an easy process. As Fairtrade gold has grown and developed, the way I have been able to design has equally grown. Fairtrade gold shapes the way I design.

"For my new wedding rings collection for CRED Jewellery, which has just launched, I looked at the place the gold has come from to influence the forms found on the ring. As a designer I think it's important that a Fairtrade piece of jewellery is luxurious in its finish, that it is not just bought because of the certification, but because of the quality of design."

CRED Fairtrade Fairmined wedding rings - court stack

Beautiful design and a beautiful story - why wouldn't you choose Fairtrade? But too often there is an assumption that the premium Fairtrade delivers to the producer will demand too high a premium from the consumer. CRED dispels this myth with their off-the-shelf Fairtrade wedding ring range that starts at just £315.

Alongside CRED, Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design is one of the first twenty companies to offer fully certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. In response to our questions about why people choose Fairtrade gold we were thrilled to receive the stories they had gathered directly from couples taking this path.

Robert and Anne's Fairtrade engagement

Robert and Anne met through an online dating site (even though Anne - wrongly - thought she had cancelled her profile!) and Robert proposed with a "commission in a box" from Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design at Compass Point above Bude bay in Cornwall.

Robert and Anne's Fairtrade engagement ring

Robert says:

"We are Christians and the principles of Fairtrade are closely allied with our faith and attitude to other people and the environment.

"Both of us have supported Fairtrade for a long time - I was helping to run a Fairtrade stall when at University twenty years ago; Anne had first-hand experience of Fairtrade in action while working in Rwanda ten years ago.

"Both of us have been excited to see the range of products available in Fairtrade increase over time - Fairtrade gold was a natural choice for the symbols of our new life together. We're looking forward to the time when Fairmined gems are also available."

Robert and Anne's Fairtrade Fairmined engagement ring by Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design

After the success of the engagement ring, the couple have since commissioned Harriet Kelsall to make their wedding rings in Fairtrade Fairmined gold too.

Mark and Rachel's Fairtrade engagement ring

Mark and Rachel also met online in 2009 and Mark proposed while they were on holiday in Tuscany.

Mark and Rachel's Fairtrade engagement story

Mark says:

"When we got back Rachel started looking at what type of ring she would like. She already knew she wanted a Fairtrade yellow gold ring with an ethically sourced diamond and Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design was the obvious choice because of the fair minded principles behind the business.

"For us using Fairtrade gold for Rachel's ring was the only option, especially as an engagement ring is such an important piece of jewellery. Rachel wouldn't feel comfortable wearing gold which people and the environment had suffered to produce."

Mark and Rachel's Fairtrade engagement ring by Harriet Kelsall Jewellery

Mark continued:

"We have had a lot of positive comments from friends and family, most of whom had no idea Fairtrade and Fairmined gold even existed before we showed them our ring.

"Although Fairtrade gold is slightly more expensive, we think that it is worth it to know that out ring is as ethical as possible. We compromised on the gold content of our ring (we originally wanted 18c but went for 9c) in order to have Fairtrade gold within our budget."

Carole and Bernard's Fairtrade wedding ring

Carole and Bernard married in 1986. Carole's wedding ring was beautiful but fragile and spent most of its life sitting in a drawer waiting for a lost diamond to be replaced. So with their 25th wedding anniversary approaching they decided to buy a new ring.

"Unable to find the ring we had envisaged we arrived at Harriet Kelsall and realised that we could design our perfect ring. During a conversation with Alice we were introduced to the concept of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. We immediately felt that this was right for us and we became part of the story of the first 18 carat Fairtrade Fairmined gold in the UK.

"The idea that our special ring could be made by people who were being paid fairly for their work and that our pleasure was not at the expense of people in another part of the world was very important to us.

"During the long wait for the first bar of gold to arrive from South America we learned more about gold mining and how it is often children who risk their lives squeezing into narrow shafts and being subjected to dangerous chemicals down the mine and during the processing. This is the reason that Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is so important.

Carole and Bernard's Fairtrade Fairmined wedding ring by Harriet Kelsall Jewellery

"It is not only the gold in Carole's ring that has an ethical source. The main diamond has been reclaimed at Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design from an old brooch and the two smaller diamonds are conflict free.

"Now that the supply of Fairtrade gold is flowing, new customers can have the satisfaction of knowing they are doing a lot of good for gold miners without the long wait.

"The quality of the ring is wonderful as would be expected from something that has been produced in a fair and just way. We believe that the ring shines brighter for having been mined and produced for the benefit not only of us but for the miners and villagers of South America."

A beautiful story

Harriet Kelsall's designers were also keen to tell us why they feel it is important to work with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. Here is Alice Rochester's story.

Alice Rochester - senior jewellery designer

Alice Rochester - senior jewellery designer at Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design

"I have always been aware of the idea of fair trade, since my Mum used to buy gifts from Traidcraft when my sister and I were little.

"I have tried to support Fairtrade wherever I can, so when I joined Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design and was asked to do a bit of further research into the ethics of jewellery I jumped at the chance.

"Harriet has always pushed our dealers to tell us more about where our stones and our gold come from, and so we were absolutely delighted when we discovered we could source pre certified, fairly traded gold.

"To begin with it was only available in limited forms which made it a little more difficult to work with - the 'grain' form they were offering is great to cast with if you're making lots of identical pieces but each of our unique designs had always been made by hand!

Hard work pays off

"We started a two prong attack - persuading our suppliers to form fairly traded 18ct yellow and white gold into sheet and square wire so we could at least work by hand with this, as well as investing in a CAD system so we could eventually do some construction work on the computer for the single item of jewellery to be cast into the fairly traded alloy our customers had chosen.

"Meanwhile, we spent lots of time talking to the people who were involved with trying to make the ‘pre certified' gold certifiable by Fairtrade International (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM).

"We were so excited when this all came through! We were told that the launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold would be on Valentine's Day 2011 and we were invited to be one of the first of twenty companies worldwide licensed to use it.

Fairtrade engagement ring designed by Alice Rochester of Harriet Kelsall Jewellery

"While all this was going on we kept talking to our customers about the imminent arrival of the certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold and this was how we began work on Carole and Bernard's ring (read their story above).

"Of course the point of Fairtrade is to work with small scale, artisanal workers and their communities. As a result there was rather a lull between the actual launch of the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold and its arrival in the UK for general use - the miners had to mine enough gold to export it to us once the paperwork had all cleared.

"This meant that even in February we still couldn't get started on making the rings for Carole and Bernard who had been waiting since November.

"Luckily they completely appreciated the pioneering nature of the Fairtrade and Fairmined certification process and were happy to wait to be a part of this process from the beginning."

Fairtrade engagement ring designed by Alice Rochester of Harriet Kelsall Jewellery

We asked Alice how things had changed for the company since being able to offer fully certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold.

"We take great pride in knowing that we can now offer Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to our customers. As consumer awareness of Fairtrade grows people are more likely to search online for an ethical option for their jewellery and find us this way, but we offer it to most customers even if they haven't asked for it - generally the difference in cost between making a piece in Fairtrade gold and ‘standard' gold isn't as much as they expect.

"We're finding that people are more and more likely to go ahead with the Fairtrade option because of this and they are really pleased to know that their jewellery is as ethical as possible.

Not too good to be true

"The great thing is that, unlike the first incarnations of Fairtrade coffee (which sounded good but tasted horrible!) Fairtrade gold is physically identical to ‘standard' gold, but you've got the reassurance that the people who have mined it and their communities have been well treated and well paid for their work. There is no reason not to use it!"

Harriet Kelsall designer, Rebecca Howarth added these thoughts on her experience.

Rebecca Howarth - Head of Design

Rebecca Howarth, Head of Design at Harriet Kelsall Jewellery

"It was tricky at the beginning to get our hands on the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. Customers were keen to use it but we had a delay with the metal while the process was being sorted.

"Initially we could order the gold in 4mm square wire and sheet in 18ct yellow and white gold to hand forge the rings. But now we can cast into 9ct white and yellow gold as well as the 18ct allowing most designs to be made in Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. Once we are able to source rose gold the sky is the limit with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold!

"The process for recording the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold rings is strict. All Fairtrade and Fairmined jobs must be approved by the Fairtrade Foundation before we can start ordering or making the project.

"The making instructions along with information on the weights and how we will purchase the metal (from which supplier) need to be specified before the project begins. When everything is confirmed we can start the project.

"Once we have made the ring it is sent off to have the Fairtrade and Fairmined stamp applied. The company is audited regularly to make sure we comply with the standards at every stage.

"Not only does the customer receive a unique piece of jewellery crafted especially for them, they have the satisfaction of knowing it has been made as ethically as possible."

All's fair in Mayfair

Our next stop was 35 Bruton Street, Mayfair with jewellery designers, Ingle & Rhode. We asked them what they thought about the impact of the new certification for gold:

"From our point of view, the Fairtrade mark does a lot to raise public awareness of the ethical problems in the jewellery industry - these days most consumers recognize what the Fairtrade logo means, and this is very helpful in drawing attention to the issues.

"Increased consumer awareness is sure to lead to increased consumer demand for ethical jewellery, and in the long run that is good news for the miners."

Ingle & Rhode wave pattern wedding rings in 18ct Fairtrade yellow gold

We wondered whether the bureaucracy involved in being a part of something as huge as Fairtrade posed a problem for jewellers but Ingle & Rhode said:

"Logistically, it hasn't been a big problem. Last week we were audited for the first time by the Fairtrade Foundation, and the process was less of a headache than we might have expected.

"The Fairtrade Foundation seem to be very much on top of what they are doing, and running things very efficiently."

Honouring the origins of Fairtrade gold

On the other side of the Atlantic, Brilliant Earth said they were delighted to add the option of Fairtrade gold to their collection of ethical jewellery (they also offer recycled gold, traceable precious stones including diamonds and lab created diamonds).

Brilliant Earth Choco Fairtrade gold pendant

In recognition of the origins of their Fairtrade gold - Oro Verde in the Chocó region of Colombia, South America - they have produced a Fairtrade gold pendant with a polished Colombian petroglyph design on one side while the other has a rough-hewn hammered finish.

Building on strong foundations

We ended our Fairtrade Fairmined tour with Vivien Johnston of Fifi Bijoux who was on tenterhooks waiting for the certification to come through.

"As you know, Fifi Bijoux was the original 'ethical jewellery brand' - we've been waiting since 2006 to use the words 'Fair Trade' in the branding (until the gold was certified as such). I'm delighted to see the reaction from customers since we created our first ring last year which could be stamped with the Fairtrade Fairmined ECO mark.

"We're working with our original mining partners, Oro Verde in Colombia, who really led the way in the Fairtrade Fairmined gold story. As we've had such a longstanding relationship with them, I can't say it has been anything other than a pleasure to continue to create custom- made rings which can now be certified as both Fairtrade and Eco.

"I know Oro Verde are keen to bring more miners to their programme; we hope that as the demand for the mark continues to grow it strengthens their model and enables this growth.

Fifi Bijoux sapphire ring in Fairtrade Fairmined gold

"Fifi Bijoux is also the first jeweller to sign the Fair Gems Process mandate: this initiative in Sri Lanka created by a French NGO is producing stunning sapphires and gems which are polished by young disadvantaged women (aged 18-24) who are given a scholarship to a 2-year course in the art and science of gem polishing and gemmology.

"Given the scale of Sri Lanka's gem export economy, this is a valuable career for young women who have faced challenging situations. The charter covers the supply chain from mining right through to retailer, which fits exactly with our ethos. I'm also the UK distributor for Open Source Minerals for traceable and ethical diamonds.

"Who knows - we might see Fairtrade Fairmined diamonds and coloured gemstones in the future!"

Who knows Vivien? After hearing from couples and designers so dedicated to the cause of fair trade jewellery, we're sure we won't have to wait long.

What next?


Katie Fewings - founder of Ethical Weddings

Supplier Focus: All’s fair in fair trade?

by Katie Fewings

We've been thinking a lot lately about how an ethical business can communicate its message to its clients and potential clients quickly and effectively.

Ethical and eco labels and certification schemes are a popular option so we looked at the Kimberley Process that was designed to certify diamonds as ‘conflict-free' - a priority for couples who don't want a symbol of love tainted with blood - and how its flaws are now undermining the whole industry.

As we move into Fairtrade Fortnight again we thought it a good time to put a much more successful example of ethical labelling under the spotlight: Fairtrade certification and the FAIRTRADE mark.

At Ethical Weddings we ask all our member suppliers whether they use fair trade products to deliver their wedding services or just in the day-to-day running of their business (Fairtrade coffee to kick start the day?). We know that it is a label that our readers recognise and trust - after all, they've been seeing it in the shops for more than a decade now.

It is also exciting that although on the one hand the Kimberley Process appears to be failing, years of work on the part of some dedicated campaigners has brought us Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold which will give even more meaning to the little hoops of gold we use to pledge our troth.

But because it has been around for a long time now, has the label made us lazy? Are we at risk of relying on it too much?

We asked Paul Allen, author of ‘Your Ethical Business' for his thoughts.

How fair is fair trade?

Paul Allen author of Your Ethical Business

"My feeling about fair trade is that it's generally positive compared to nothing, but there are some problems with it. I'd much rather have genuinely free trade, where people are paid what they should be, than something that distorts the market in sometimes quite odd ways.

"I also know that some of the hurdles that you have to jump through to get accreditation (not to mention the cost) are tough or inappropriate for a lot of producers, some of whom have found that other schemes (for example, Rainforest Alliance - which has its own critics) are more relevant for them.

"For me, the main problem with going against fair trade is what else do you do? Consumers don't want to think. They want to be told: ‘This is good, this is ethical, here's the badge to prove it.'

Global trade is so much more complex than that, especially when you consider social and environmental issues, but consumers don't want to have to consider all of their purchases in minute detail.

Don't make me think

"It's interesting that Starbucks initially tried to do their own thing with ethical coffee sourcing, but even they couldn't really get the message through about what they were doing, so they ended up making all their espresso beans fair trade. Now they're the largest buyers of fair trade coffee in the world.

"Like I say, consumers don't want to think - they just want to see "fair trade" and think that they're doing something good.

"The same argument could apply really with FSC-certified wood - a lot of people have problems with how the scheme works, but it's the biggest stamp of approval around and it's better than nothing.

"So yes, I think a lot of the motivation behind the original idea of fair trade was sound, and I'm sure it continues to support some producer communities in very positive ways. But I'm a bit uneasy about something that, for example, effectively encourages everyone in a particular region to grow very high quality coffee for export (because that's in demand here) when that may not be the most 'sustainable' decision for their community in the long term, and when they're getting just a bit of extra money and support on top of the global coffee price, which is basically dictated by others - so fundamentally not very fair anyway.

What price a cup of coffee?

"I personally also don't like the way that fair trade growers typically only create the raw ingredient. If we really cared about strengthening their communities, we'd help them to actually get the stuff to market - to own the whole process of refining, producing, packaging and so on.

"Coffee is a phenomenally cheap commodity to buy - it has one of the highest mark-ups of any item on the menu in a cafe or restaurant. But the people making all the money on the £2.50 lattes and cappuccinos are the ones bringing it to market here, not the growers.

"I'm not saying it's all bad. A lot of ‘dark greenies' hate anything that they think might not be 100% ethical and "perfect" and I don't want to come across like that. On balance, I think it's probably better than nothing, but we should be wary about believing it's completely ethical."

Over to you

We would love to get your opinions on fair trade in general and the Fairtrade certification scheme and mark in particular.

We do need ways to communicate with our customers that don't take exhaustive explanations. As businesses we may sometimes need to say: "...this is good, this is ethical, here's the badge to prove it." But we want to be sure that the badge really does prove it.

Do you offer your customers fair trade products? Do they ask for them? Do you have stories to share that show why fair trade is worth supporting? Or have you decided not to go down the fair trade route and if so, why?

Send us your thoughts at


Simone Bennett, sales & marketing expert

Supplier Focus: Sponsor for success

by Simone Bennett, sales & marketing expert

How to use sponsorship as an effective way to market your business

It may feel like forever that the media has been talking about the recession and the doom and gloom of the economic crisis. But there are ways that you can adjust your marketing strategy to cope with this doom and gloom so that your business flourishes in the downturn.

I regularly receive enquiries from businesses that want to raise their social media profiles, re-brand or produce a snazzy e-shot to pull customers in through the web.  What they often overlook is the potential power behind a sponsorship strategy.

Just for the big brands?

Sponsorship is often seen as an expensive and high profile tool associated with large brands and sporting events but this is not always the case - there are plenty of opportunities out there for businesses of all sizes that are willing to try a different form of marketing.

Sponsorship does not have to cost millions or even thousands of pounds. It could come in at less than £100.  It just has to fit in with your marketing plan and your objectives.

Unlike traditional advertising, sponsorship can give you the chance to forge relationships and play an active role in the event or with the website or programme you're sponsoring.  It works best when you integrate it with your overarching marketing strategy, always aiming to direct new customers to your website or to get in touch with you.

Ethical Weddings can put together a flexible, rewarding and budget-friendly sponsorship package that is about more than just your logo on a banner.  Whether you want to get across the true spirit of your business, launch a new product or service, or educate a market about your company, we will help you to focus your objectives and build a package tailored to your individual needs.

Benefits of sponsorship in a nutshell

What next?


Robin Dally - ethical SEO specialist

Supplier Focus: Making the most of your relationships

by Robin Dally

Relationships are important.  We're Ethical Weddings, you would expect us to say that.  

But the relationships we're talking about here don't (necessarily) involve the words 'I do'.

If you want to increase the number of visitors to your website it makes sense to build relationships. This might sound pretty obvious to some of you, we all know that the relationships we make are hugely important to our business. With digital marketing, however, these relationships are particularly important.

Google likes you to have friends

Google decides how trustworthy and important your business is by looking at how many other websites talk about your business. It also checks how trustworthy these other websites are and how related to your business they are.

Building new relationships is hugely important. It is, however, rather time consuming. So a great place to start is with your existing relationships.

Map out your existing relationships

It’s probably best to set up a spreadsheet for this task. Write down every business or person that your business has a relationship with.

Here are some examples:

It really is very broad indeed. So don’t worry about getting it all done in one session - come back to it two or three times to see if you can come up with some more.

The goal

From a digital marketing perspective our aim is to get all of these people, businesses and websites talking about your business online.

Lend a hand

We do this in a many different ways, my favourite is simply through being of service. A great way to get a business to mention your business online is to help them out.

The key here is to build our levels of engagement: the more engaged our relationships are the more chance there is that people will talk about us. How we build levels of engagement is something we will be talking about a lot in the coming months.

Get your priorities straight

With all these possible relationships to build engagement with where should you start? Well, from an SEO perspective it can be useful to come up with a scoring system. There are three scores you should give your existing relationships.

1. Relevance

From 1-100 how closely related is this other business or website to your own?

2. Current level of engagement

How engaged is this relationship at the moment? If they are already a customer then I would say that’s a high level of engagement so around 85 out of 100. If they already mention you on their website then that could be 95. If they are just somebody you follow on Twitter, you have never re-tweeted them and they don’t follow you, then they are probably at around 10.

3. SEO score

This score is probably the most abstract.  When I am doing this for clients I use a variety of different tools but for the sake of simplicity I recommend you use the MOZ trust rank score - you can download a tool that shows you this score for any website you are interested in.  

Download the MozBar SEO Toolbar

YAY! You're on your way

Once you have given all your relationships a score for these three criteria, add the three scores together.  Next sort the list from highest to lowest total score.  This is your priority list. The ones at the top are the ones you should focus on from the start: these guys are important, you need to build your relationship with them.

Next time

Before you start building relationships with your priority list there are a couple of other steps I recommend you carry out first. Next month I’ll be talking about your competitors' relationships and how understanding these can help you achieve your goals.

Want more?


Brilliant Earth diamond ring

Make love not war on Valentine’s Day

If you're wondering what to get your love interest for Valentine's Day, it may be helpful to recall the legend of St. Valentine.

As the story goes, Valentine was a priest in ancient Rome. The Emperor, Claudius, was fighting various wars, but he was having trouble recruiting soldiers.

Believing that young lads without wives would be more likely to volunteer, Claudius decreed a ban on all marriages.When the kindly Valentine refused to stop marrying couples, he was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded.

Years later, the Pope declared Valentine a saint, and the day of Valentine's death - February 14 - became a holiday for lovers.

Make love, not war

Brilliant Earth - ethical wedding bands

The message of Valentine's Day is as simple as that old 1960s slogan: make love, not war. And that's why, when you exchange gifts on Valentine's Day, it's important to be sure that you are not unintentionally contributing to wars, violence, or human rights abuses.

It's no secret that the international jewellery industry does not have the best track record for social and environmental responsibility. In fact, in many countries, the mining of precious gemstones and metals is more of a curse than a blessing. Brilliant Earth was established to pioneer a more ethical model for the jewelry business. We are dedicated to offering the finest in ethical origin rings, earrings, and pendants, as well as to raising awareness about the social and environmental consequences of the way jewellery is often produced.

The end of blood diamonds?

Probably the most well-known ethical issue associated with jewellery is the problem of blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds. In some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d'Ivoire, profits from the sale of diamonds are fuelling ongoing civil conflicts and government instability.

In other countries, such as Zimbabwe or Angola, the story is no less alarming. Mine workers, sometimes children, are often forced to work against their will. Workers that are paid usually receive meager wages and are subject to torture, rape, killings, and other devastating human rights abuses.

Many jewellers claim that the Kimberley Process, an international certification system established in 2003, has solved the problem of conflict diamonds. However, the Kimberley Process was set up specifically to sever the link between diamonds and civil wars against recognised governments. It makes little attempt to stop other human rights abuses that occur in the mining and trading of diamonds.

Just last November, the Kimberley Process decided to certify diamonds from Zimbabwe, even though Zimbabwe's government has used torture, killings, and child labour to extract diamonds from the country's mining fields. Thus, a diamond certified as "conflict free" under the Kimberley Process may nonetheless have a sordid history that associates it with the worst human rights violations.

Dirty pretty things

Beyond diamond mining, the jewellery trade abounds with unethical practices. Coloured gemstones, such as sapphires and emeralds, are frequently mined in ways that exploit workers, communities, and the environment.

Gold mining is an especially dirty process, releasing toxic chemicals such as mercury and cyanide into water supplies and generating about 20 tons of waste for every gold ring that is produced. Gold mining also fuels violence and human rights abuses - in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is a major cause of a civil conflict that has claimed more than 5 million lives since 1998.

Sparkle with a difference

Brilliant Earth - ethical diamonds

Brilliant Earth is proud to offer a wide assortment of stunning, high-quality jewellery from certified ethical origin sources. All of our diamonds come from mines in Canada and Namibia that adhere to the most rigorous labour and environmental standards.

We use recycled gold and platinum to avoid the need for dirty gold mining, and we also offer ethical origin pearl, emerald, sapphire and lab-created diamond jewellery.

Whether you're looking for that perfect diamond ring, shopping for a Valentine's Day gift, or perhaps both (Valentine's Day is a great day to propose, after all!), you'll want to check out our gorgeous collection of ethical origin fine jewellery. That way, you can proclaim your heartfelt affection while remaining true to the spirit of St. Valentine.

Find out more about Brilliant Earth - ethical jewellery


Seeing red - Free Greenland Ruby

Seeing red - Free Greenland Ruby

Conflict diamonds hit the headlines in a big way - with a little help from Hollywood blockbuster, Blood Diamond - and while few would claim the issues are now resolved (read about the latest upset at the Kimberley Process), at least the word is out there and we know the questions to ask to track down that elusive, ethical engagement ring.

Much less well known is the controversy around the blood-red ruby. A legal war is waging in Greenland as the native Inuit Greenlanders fight for their rights to prospect for the ruby through small-scale, responsible mining just as their ancestors have done for centuries.

The 16th August Union

On 16th August 2007, native Inuit Greenlanders were arrested for mining ruby. True North Gems (TNG), a Canadian mining company, informed on the Inuit to the local police who were told by The Bureau for Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) to stop them prospecting for ruby - even though this violated the Danish Government's own Mineral Code and the UN Declaration of Human & Indigenous Rights.

Soon after, there was a clamp down across the island on the rights of indigenous people to mine. Mr. Lars Lund Sorensen, the head of a division at the Minerals Office at the time, said:

"We don’t want your sort of people having access to this kind of wealth."

The BMP then set about hiring lawyers who would twist interpretations of Danish laws to cover up their behaviour and protect the interests of TNG. They even instructed the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute local people but offered to drop charges against miners if they signed paperwork stating they will not mine again. Where this bribe was refused, they issued fines.

Free Greenland Ruby

Determined to fight back, the Greenlanders started their own small-scale mining union called the 16th August Union to uphold their right to mine ruby and to act as a united voice to the Greenland people and the world. They regard their local government to be acting in collusion with the foreign national mining corporation, TNG to create a ruby monopoly to the exclusion of all native Greenlanders.

Greenland

The Union believes that the natural resources of Greenland belong first and foremost to their native peoples and asks that:

1) the inherent right of every native Greenlander to prospect, responsibly mine, cut, polish and sell their minerals is respected;

2) Section 32 of the Mineral Code that enshrines their cultural and historical rights to make a living from ruby is upheld;

3) they are treated in a democratic and transparent way with respect to their native traditions and world view;

4) the global community, civil society groups and the international jewellery industry support their just cause.

Read an introduction to the 16th August Union

Sign the petition

The 16th August Union are asking you to sign their online petition in support of their indigenous rights to mine ruby on the island of Greenland and to make a living out of responsible, small scale mining. The petition will be sent to the Home Rule Parliament of Greenland.

They ask for their rights to be enshrined in a clear, transparent law based on the following simple idea:

"The fundamental rights for indigenous and native Greenlanders under section 32 of the current Constitution to be able to collect, transform, commercialize and export all natural minerals of any sort. (Except oil, gas and radioactive elements in areas with a monopoly)."

Read and sign the full Greenland Ruby petition

Greenland

What next?

Fair trade jewellery activist, Greg Valerio of Cred Jewellery has got well and truly on board with the Free Greenland Ruby campaign. When Greenland got home rule on 21 June, Greg was there to negotiate with the new Home Rule Government in support of the 16th August Union. Find out how the campaign is progressing with Greg's updates on the Fair Trade Jewelry Blog.

Images from FreeGreenlandRuby.com


Simone Bennett, sales & marketing expert

Supplier Focus: Good dates for sharing good news

by Simone Bennett, sales & marketing expert

When you're planning your news releases and blog posts for the year, it's always worth finding out what events or campaigns are coming up that could be relevant to your business.

Once you've pinpointed the ones that strike a chord with you and your customers, you can work back from the launch date to schedule a number of articles and releases.  These might cover

Upcoming events

Here are a few dates to get you started. Do let us know if you think of others and we will add them to our list.

 

Organised by People & Planet, this is an annual national week of action on climate change in schools, colleges and universities. Why not join in the student activities?

 

Culminating on Valentine's Day, this is a natural (dare we say obvious?) fit for wedding suppliers. Find National Marriage Week on Twitter.

 

This year the Fairtrade Foundation is asking everyone to 'take a step for Fairtrade' - what could your business do in 2012?

Follow the Fairtrade Foundation on Twitter or like the Fairtrade Foundation page on Facebook.

 

A chance to celebrate the mother-of-the-bride perhaps?

 

This year's event will "focus on building the environmental movement and engaging new environmental activists around the globe".

 

Organised by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), this event will take place in May although the website still carries details for 2011.

 

Organised by The Vegetarian Society, this is the UK’s annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the advantages of living meat-free.

Get the latest news on the National Vegetarian Week Facebook page, by following The Vegetarian Society on Twitter or by signing up to the newsletter.

 

The Soil Association has gone from an organic fortnight to a whole month dedicated to all things organic.

Follow the Soil Association on Twitter and like them on Facebook for updates.

 

Yum, yum, yum! You can't have a wedding without chocolate, can you? Event partners include Hotel Chocolat and the Fairtrade company, Divine Chocolate.

Follow Chocolate Week on Twitter or sign up to their newsletter (from the homepage).

Share your plans

If you are planning something special for any of these events (or others) do let us know as it's likely we'll be writing about them too. Photos very much appreciated!

What next?


Katie Fewings - founder of Ethical Weddings

Supplier Focus: No more guarantees? Conflict diamonds & accreditation schemes

by Katie Fewings

Accreditation schemes and group commitments can be a great thing when done properly.

You know that your strong ethics are the backbone of your business – but explaining these to your clients can take a lot of work and a lot of words.

Sometimes the symbol (and link to website) of a relevant accreditation scheme or commitment that validates what you're already doing – from the Soil Association to the Fairtrade Foundation - can say more and say it better than you could on your own.

It tells potential clients that you meet certain criteria (and must continue to meet them), that you’re part of a bigger movement for change, and that they are making a difference by supporting you.

But what happens when the credentials of that accreditation crumble?

The Kimberley Process could be a case in point. When conflict diamonds first came to the public’s attention there was confusion. How was the naive engagement ring hunter supposed to know if the diamond in this small token of love had helped to fund a bloody war?

Wedding rings

Then the Kimberley Process (KP) was created with its scheme to certify rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’. The message was clear – you want a conflict-free diamond? Ditch the long list of complicated questions (to which you might not understand the answers) and ask if it has been certified by the Kimberley Process.

And then the chinks in the KP’s armour started to appear. In 2010, human rights abuses in Zimbabwe led many to question the country’s place in the KP – and the narrow scope of the ‘conflict diamond’ definition.

Conflict diamonds or blood diamonds?

As JCK Magazine reported in its article 'The 'Other' Blood Diamonds':

But most consumers don’t use the term conflict diamonds. They say blood diamonds. The two terms are generally considered interchangeable, but there is no generally accepted definition of blood diamond. I think most would define it as a diamond whose extraction is directly associated with blood, whether that’s because of a war (the traditional conflict diamond definition), or other kinds of violence.

Israeli Blood Diamonds campaign

At the end of 2010, ethical jewellers Ingle & Rhode wrote for Ethical Weddings on what they considered to be ‘The death of the Kimberley Process’ highlighting how a rough diamond could be certified ‘conflict-free’ from one country but cut, polished and sold into the wholesale market elsewhere with no further checks.

This particular loophole was jumped on by the Boycott Israeli Diamonds Campaign in the summer last year when they said:

Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world’s most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world’s leading producers of cut and polished diamonds.”

Finally, at the end of 2011 came the news that Global Witness, one of the founders of the Kimberley Process, had withdrawn from it. Which begs the question: does it mean anything anymore?

What can you do?

In many ways it’s back to the drawing board. The Ethics Committee formed in March last year by the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) and the British Jewellers’ Association (BJA) is recommending caution over the origin of all diamonds.

The CEO of NAG said:

The BJA and NAG have long advocated their memberships take every reasonable precaution in diligently checking the provenance of the diamonds used in British made jewellery”.

Go beyond the Kimberley Process - tell your clients the extra steps you are taking to be as transparent as possible and ensure their diamonds are not contaminated by blood.

Lessons for us all

While the Kimberley Process applies specifically to the jewellery industry we should all keep a close eye on the accreditation schemes and commitments we sign up to to make sure they are still delivering on their promises.

We can’t afford to become complacent.

Over to you

In your opinion, what are the most trustworthy accreditation schemes relevant to the wedding sector?

Want to know more?

Follow:

See Ethical Weddings jewellery suppliers here


Robin Dally - ethical SEO specialist

Supplier Focus: Know your mission, know your goals, go go online marketing!

by Robin Dally, ethical SEO specialist

Our primary mission has always been to help people who are preparing for their weddings choose products and services that have a positive social and environmental impact (read more on Why Ethical Weddings?).

Since we started Ethical Weddings in 2006, ethical and green issues have become more mainstream.

However, the wedding industry is still flooded with distinctly unethical products: chemical-soaked cotton, gold mined in horrendous conditions, carbon-hungry, out-of-season flowers and more.

So we have decided that now is the time to help ethical wedding suppliers compete better with the mainstream - to help them get found online not only by couples looking for green or ethical products but by anyone who is planning a wedding.

Online marketing - where to start?

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to the online marketing of your business. It’s not hard to find advice and tips on what you could or should be doing, the internet is full of it!

And you probably receive numerous emails and phone calls with dubious offers of help with ‘guaranteed’ results.

I want to take away that overwhelmed feeling, make it easy, and show how everyone can achieve their goals by making the most of their online marketing efforts.

My first big tip is to make sure that all your online marketing efforts are focused on your business mission and goals. A clear mission for your business makes it much easier when deciding what to do with online marketing.

Whether you are working out your mission and goals from scratch or digging them out of your business plan, be ambitious: remember, you don't have to target your products or services only at the socially-conscious minority - with the right online marketing they can compete in the mainstream.

Useful guides

For tips on writing mission statements I like:

Once you know your mission, it is easier to work on your goals, for example how much you need to turnover.  A good way to do this is to carry out a cash forecast.  

Next time

I'll be showing how you can make the most of your existing online relationships.

Want more?


Touch Wood Rings

Wood you? A look at wooden wedding bands

By Wenona Napolitano, author of 'The Everything Green Wedding Book'

Has the truth about dirty gold and blood diamonds made you afraid to even consider purchasing a new engagement ring or wedding band?

Do you think your eco-conscience just wouldn't allow you to live with yourself knowing all the damage that mining does to our precious planet?

Have you considered the eco-friendly alternative of wooden wedding bands?

You might be thinking "OK, how is a wood wedding ring any better than metal? We're trying to save trees, too!"

Touch Wood Rings - wooden engagement and wedding rings

Reclaimed wood rings

Well, many wood rings are made from salvaged lumber, like those made by Gustav Reyes the artisan for Chicago Joinery. Gustav says that "most of my wooden wedding rings are made of salvaged lumber; some simply found."

Gustav handcrafts every wooden ring "to bring out the warmth and honesty of the wood". He creates each ring from a single piece of wood and makes them by hand so that the "structural integrity of the wood is maintained".

The amazing craftsman, David Finch, of Touch Wood Rings creates beautiful works of ring art from trees that have fallen on his over 50 acres of land in British Columbia, from trees from family properties and from wood that was scrapped at local factories.

Wife Nicola states on their website that "we use such a tiny bit of wood to create a ring that we couldn't use up a tree in a lifetime of making wooden rings."

David and his wife Nicola live simply out in the middle of nowhere British Columbia. They believe in "right livelihood" which is about living a sustainable lifestyle that values simplicity rather than material possessions.

David and Nicola do their "utmost to cause no harm to people or the environment," and while they don't think that their wood rings will change the world they do hope that with each ring that they make a little less gold and diamonds will be mined.

Touch Wood Rings - wooden engagement and wedding rings

Wooden rings as unique as you

You can purchase wooden rings already made but usually it is better to have one custom created for you.

The process is part of the uniqueness of the wooden ring experience. You can be a part of the ring's design.

Each type of wood has meaning and you can select the wood for your loved one's ring by its special meaning and by the colour and feel of the wood.

Wooden rings do have a few setbacks like not being able to be sized so you need to be extra sure on the size of the ring needed when ordering. The other downfall is that they are not as sturdy as a metal ring, you don't want to wear in the pool or immerse it in water too often, but through proper care your wooden ring can be a treasure that lasts a lifetime.

Touch Wood Rings - bamboo wedding and engagement rings

Wooden rings - a green wedding choice

So if you want to stay away from mined metals and be a part of the creative process of designing the perfect ring for your fiancé or the perfect set of wedding bands for your marriage -wooden wedding rings may be the perfect green choice for you.

Visit David and Nicola Finch at www.touchwoodrings.com

Learn More about Gustav Reyes at www.chicagojoinery.com

Read about the meaning of different trees and wood: Qualities of Wood

About the author

The Everything Green Wedding Book
Wenona Napolitano is a freelance writer, author and poet in Flint, MI USA.

Her eco-friendly wedding planning book, The Everything Green Wedding Book will be out in December 2008.

To pre-order your copy go to The Everything Green Weddings Blog.

Read more ethical wedding featured articles


Totally vintageous - search for an eco chic wedding gown

Totally vintageous - search for an eco chic wedding gown

By Wenona Napolitano, author of 'The Everything Green Wedding Book'

Are you considering a green wedding but don't think you're going to find a "green" gown that fits your style? Hemp not your thing? Organic cotton or bamboo doesn't fit the bill either? Maybe you think that eco-friendly gowns don't fit into your image of wearing high fashion.

Don't worry you can still go green and wear high fashion... by wearing a beautiful bridal gown from another era.

Are you a gal that loves the styles from eras long gone? The glamour of vintage fashion, gowns from the golden age of Hollywood. Well, did you know that vintage gowns are a very green option?

Why, you may ask?

They are so vintageously green because no new resources are needed to create them. The greenest choices are the ones that require no energy or new resources to create- a vintage gown fits that definition perfectly.

A touch of history

Vintage gowns have become very popular in recent years, not just because of the massive movement towards going green but a renewed interest in the beauty and style of the past has emerged. Many celebrities have donned vintage gowns for red carpet events and for their own weddings.

Just imagine all the styles and elegant fashions you can choose from. The quiet elegance or flapper styles of the 20s, the understated beauty of the 30s, the glamour of the 50s, and the psychedelic fun of the 60s and 70s. Maybe you wish to go back even farther in time to romantic Edwardian or Victorian fashions.

Do your homework

To research vintage fashions and styles of wedding gowns two fabulous books are Vintage Wedding- Simple Ideas for Creating a Romantic Vintage Wedding by Daniela Turudich and Accessorizing the Bride-Vintage Wedding Finery through the Decades by Norma Shephard.

These books will help you see what kinds of dresses were popular during different decades. That way when you start looking for a vintage bridal gown you'll have a better idea of what to search for.

So where can you find vintage gowns? You never know you may find a gem at a local thrift store, consignment shop, or antique store. You might even be lucky enough to have a vintage clothing retailer in your town.

Online vintage

If not, there's always eBay and a host of online retailers that specialize in vintage gowns. Two well known online retailers are VintageWedding.com and VintageVixen.com. If you are in the UK check out VintageDress.co.uk.

How to find that vintage gown

Be careful when shopping for vintage gowns, especially if you purchase from an online retailer. One of the greatest things about going vintage is you can centre your whole wedding theme around the era of your gown. Think flapper 20s, 50s retro, 80s glam, or the restrained elegance of Victorian times.

You'll see that going totally vintageous can be a lot of fun in addition to being so very trendy and green.

The Everything Green Wedding Book

About the author

Wenona Napolitano is the author of 'The Everything Green Wedding Book' out in December 2008. To pre-order your copy go to The Everything Green Wedding Blog.
Fair trade wine

Fair trade weddings

With Fairtrade Fortnight fast approaching, we are again taking a look at ways in which we can make fair trade a part of our weddings.

In 2007, to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight, we took on a challenge to find a fair trade item related to a different aspect of wedding planning for each day of the fortnight.  Read about our Fairtrade Fortnight Wedding Challenge.

This year, we want to hear from you about the fair trade products that will be putting in an appearance on your wedding day, from making your own fair trade wedding cakes to working some serious aisle style in fair trade jewellery.  Or if you've already celebrated your wedding, we'd love to see any pics showing a fair trade wedding in action!

To get the ball rolling, we've dug out a few photos from our 2005 wedding...

Fair trade favours with Divine chocolate eggs and fair trade wedding cake courtesy of the groom! 

Fair trade chocolate eggs as wedding favours
Fair trade wedding cake

Charity shop wedding dresses

How do you recycle, save money and give to charity all in one wedding shopping trip? Go for a charity shop wedding dress of course!

Usually with only one previous owner, these wedding dresses are generally in pretty good condition and can be nipped and tucked to fit your curves. 

Here are a selection of UK charity shops with dedicated bridal departments.  So let's go shopping!

 

They say: "We've had some truly beautiful gowns donated, some of them are designer one-offs so any local Brides would do well to come and have a look! I think it is great that these gorgeous dresses are going to be used again and will benefit our charity at the same time.

Brigitte Young - Manager
13 Short Wyre Street
Colchester
Essex
CO1 1LN

Tel: 01206 574754

 

They say: "The Wedding Haven is based within the Havens Hospices Charity shop on Alexandra Street in Southend-on-Sea. 

The Wedding Haven is separate to the charity shop section and aims to give the same experience to brides-to-be as other high street specialist shops including appointment-only visits.

To complement the wedding experience, Havens Hospices also offers other such initiatives as wedding favours, Gift Catalogue and Challenge Honeymoons, all of which benefit the charity too."

To make an appointment at The Wedding Haven or to donate items please call: 01702 338 965

To find out more on the Havens Favours, Havens Honeymoons or Gift Catalogue please call: 01702 220 350

 

They say: "To make the most of your visit, please call the shop beforehand to make an appointment and feel free to ask questions about the sizes and styles available. When you visit, a trained assistant will be on hand to help you (with no hard sell!), and you will be able to view and try on the dresses in comfort."

Bracknell
96 Broadway
Bracknell
RG12 1AR
Tel: 01344 427698

Bradford
54/58 Darley Street
Bradford
BD1 3HN
Tel: 01274 306700

Cambridge
20 Burleigh Street
Cambridge
CB1 1DG
Tel: 01223 329841

Chippenham
5 The Bridge,
Chippenham,
Wiltshire
SN15 1HA
Tel: 01249 447061
Please telephone for an appointment

Coventry
300 Walsgrave Road,
Walsgrave,
Coventry
Tel: 024 76 448909

Heswall
258/258a Telegraph Road,
Heswall,
CH60 7SG
Tel: 0151 342 8416

Leicester
22 Market Street,
Leicester
Tel: 0116 2556455

Poole
136 High Street
Poole
BH15 1DN
Tel: 01202 674086
Please telephone for an appointment

Southampton
76/78 High Street,
Shirley,
Southampton
SO15 3NE
By appointment only, please call Sue Hutchings on 07969 668939

 

They say:  "The first floor of the shop in High Street, Cheadle has been transformed into a dedicated bridal department complete with a large changing room, relaxed viewing area with special lighting and soft furnishings perfect for those all important wedding advisors."

3 High Street
Cheadle, Cheshire SK8 1AX

Tel: 0161 428 5949

Open Monday to Saturday
9.30am to 4.30pm

 

They say: "The Sense shop in Kingswinford and the Margate shop both stock a wide range of pre-owned wedding gowns and bridesmaids' dresses, plus an extensive range of mother of the bride attire, new items and accessories.

With donations being received and re-sold all the time, it's not uncommon to discover a real gem of a designer or vintage outfit that would make that special day truly exceptional."

Sense Charity Shop
21 Market Street
Kingswinford
West Midlands
DY6 9JS

Tel: 01384 402564
Trading Hours: 9am - 5pm (Mon - Sat)

Sense Charity Shop
126 High Street
Margate
Kent
CT9 1JW

Tel: 01843 297666
Trading Hours: 9am - 4:30pm (Mon - Sat)

 

They say: "We stock an extensive range of nearly new bridal gowns, beautiful bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride outfits, and fantastic hats and accessories - all at wonderfully reasonable prices. So you can look a million dollars without spending it!

The bridal department is set on it's own floor with a spacious and private dressing room. You can book an appointment to suit your schedule and have the whole department to yourself to try on as many outfits as you want, in complete comfort and privacy." 

Call Sue or Sheila for more information on: 01179 427744

Or visit us at

The Bridal Department at Tenovus
181 Gloucester Road, Bishopston
Bristol BS7 8BG
(on the A38 opposite the old swimming baths)

Find a charity shop near you 

If you don't live near a charity shop with a dedicated bridal department, it's always worth having a scout around your local charity shops as wedding dresses do pop up all the time.  The Association of Charity Shops helps you to locate your nearest charity shops  Select the 'bridal' option to find out which ones might have your dream dress!

Donate your dress

After the big day, if you think your dress is going to be gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe, why not donate it back again? Charity shops are desperate for your donations and if it was your dream dress, chances are it will be another bride's too!


diamond ring

A girl’s best friend? The blood diamond debate

So who is a girl’s best friend when it comes to weddings? According to the marketing it isn’t your chief bridesmaid, it’s that shiny sparkly bit of carbon commonly known as a diamond.

But diamonds inevitably lead to a dilemma for the ethical bride: how do you avoid conflict or ‘blood’ diamonds?

The United Nations definition of conflict diamonds is: ‘…diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.’

For a very emotive account of what this could mean in reality, click here.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, set up in 2002 after 2 years of negotiations, was intended to wipe out the trade in conflict diamonds. According to its website, it is: ‘…an innovative, voluntary system that imposes extensive requirements on Participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free from conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process is composed of 45 Participants, including the European Community. Kimberley Process Participants account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.’

However, this is not a complete solution – note the dreaded word ‘voluntary’ for starters. And as one diamond supplier, DiamondHunt.co.uk, say on their website: ‘One of the main faults with the KP is that there are no requirements for individual mines to be monitored by own governments. […] Therefore it will be relatively easy for a determined RUF [Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front] controlled mine to continue to mine conflict diamonds then simply smuggle them into the mine of a non-conflict country. These conflict diamonds would then be certified as coming from the non-conflict area and away they go.’

Two years after the KP had been set up, Amnesty conducted their own investigation and found that: ‘New survey shows diamond shops can't assure customers that stones are not conflict diamonds’. Click here for the summary of their findings.

And of course nothing is ever simple. DiamondHunt.co.uk declare that: ‘‘All the diamonds on our http://www.DiamondHunt.co.uk database come from cutters who source their diamonds from De Beers mines only. This way we can guarantee our diamonds are CONFLICT FREE.’

De Beers, however, is currently the target of a high profile boycott by Survival International over the eviction of the Central Kalahari Bushmen to make way for diamond mining.

Director of Survival International, Stephen Corry, believes: ‘It is not OK for people to wear diamonds by De Beers until the Bushmen are allowed back to their ancestral lands.’ And not forgetting Boycott De Beers!

Despite this doom and gloom, it is possible to find jewellers stocking ethically sourced diamonds. Here are a few companies who are really passionate about the ethical element of their jewellery. In many ways, this passion is one of the best assurances you can get that your diamond is ethically sourced.

Brilliant Earth (based in the US) introduce their new collection ‘…of the finest quality conflict-free diamond jewellery founded on the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. All of our diamond jewellery is certified to be conflict-free, environmentally responsible, and untainted by unethical labour practices.’

HK Jewellery, with branches in Weston, Hertfordshire and Cambridge, declare on their website: ‘We have always been passionate about using conflict free diamonds and ethically mined gemstones and together with the British Jewellers' Association and our diamond suppliers put a lot of effort into ensuring that the diamonds that we use are not sourced from areas of Africa controlled by forces rebelling against the legitimate and internationally recognised government of the relevant country.’

Stephen Einhorn, based in London, state on their website that: ‘Our aim is to run an ethically responsible company. All our fine jewellery is handcrafted to the highest standards in our London workshops using ethical labour and materials.

As we are particularly concerned about where our materials come from we only use ethical Diamonds and refuse to use “Conflict Diamonds” which are inexorably linked with human rights abuses and conflict in many parts of Africa.’

Stephen Einhorn also works with wood. See Thames Wood Jewellery below.

Dejoria believe that: ‘… you should always insist that the diamonds used in diamond engagement rings, diamond eternity rings, diamond rings or diamond jewellery be "conflict-free".

‘After all, not only do conflict diamonds wreak untold misery upon innocent and defenceless people (and all ethical diamond jewellers need to make a stand against this) but we recognise that our customers need the assurance that the diamond they are buying - a symbol of their love for another person - is a legitimate, genuine, conflict-free gem.’

Dejoria also ploughs back a percentage of the revenue they generate from sales into worthwhile projects in the countries where the diamonds are mined such as education and health projects.

The Diamond Jeweller assures its customers that: ‘…all the diamonds used in our diamond jewellery are "conflict-free", whether it be in our diamond engagement rings, diamond eternity rings, diamond rings, diamond pendants, diamond earrings, diamond bracelets, diamond necklaces or diamond cufflinks. After all, a diamond is a beautiful symbol of love which must not be tarnished by a dark history.’

Touch Wood Rings. Or forgo the diamonds altogether! Touch Wood Rings (based in Canada) contacted us about their services: ‘We believe that wearing a wooden ring speaks volumes about your commitment to the environment and to the concept of simple living. Give someone you love a Touch Wood Ring as a socially and environmentally responsible alternative to precious metals and gemstones.’ Check out Al's review of his Touch Wood Ring here.

Thames Wood Jewellery features 2000 year old Roman Oak taken from the first port facilities built in London by the Romans around 63AD. Stephen Einhorn state that: “We are the exclusive owners of this unique wood, which is in effect being “recycled” and used in our fine jewellery and is rarer than a Diamond. If you want to skip wearing gold you can also opt for titanium instead.”

If you are heading off on a diamond hunt, don’t forget to go primed by your Global Witness / Amnesty buying guide and armed with their handy downloadable 2-page leaflet with the key questions to ask.

Ethical-living Leo Hickman also puts in his 2-carats-worth in this good overview piece for The Guardian.


wedding guests

Be my ethical guest

By Sarah Nicholson 

As increasing numbers of couples stop to count the cost of their wedding – to the earth as much as to their bank balance - wedding magazines and websites are starting to devote space to environmental and other ethical issues.

A quick Google search reveals dozens of sites dedicated to helping the happy couple make socially responsible decisions about their wedding day, from the purchase of an ethical engagement ring to romantic destinations that avoid clocking up the air miles.

But what about the guests? You might already try to ‘do your bit’ and feel disappointed that a friend or relative hasn’t paid a moment’s thought to ethical issues. Or you might have been invited to a carbon-neutral wedding – and haven’t a clue what it means.

Or, as is so often the case, your lifestyle and the event you are planning to attend may be an ongoing compromise between ideals and reality.

Whatever your situation, there is always something you can do and, as the saying goes: ‘every little helps.’ Even if you do just one thing, you will be making a difference to the planet.

1. RSVP
If you were asked to reply by email – why not?! It saves paper and the cost of transporting your letter to its destination. If you really want to send a card, choose one made from recycled materials, or a fairly traded one. Of course, you could also send an e-card rather than a straightforward email. The money you save by not buying a card and a stamp could go on the couple’s present, or to a charity collection box.

2. What shall I wear?
Charity shops might not be your usual cup of tea, but it’s worth keeping an open mind as often (especially in more affluent parts of the country) they can be a goldmine of designer or unusual one-off items. But there are other options too: M+S have a strong ethical policy, and even if you don’t find anything to wear there, you could always take a break in one of their cafes which sell only fair trade tea and coffee. Some Fairtrade outlets, like Traidcraft, sell a small selection of clothes as well as beautiful accessories like scarves, jewellery and bags.

3. How am I going to get there?
Of course, it depends how far away the venue is from your home, but consider the options. If several of you are going from the same place, could you hire a minibus? Or share cars? Or use public transport? If the venue is abroad can you get there by train rather than flying? If you live in London or the South-East, hiring an electric car is an option, but not unfortunately for people in other parts of the country.

4. They’re getting married in the middle of nowhere!
As I heard someone comment about my own wedding, although I doubt the inhabitants of a market town between Leeds and Bradford would agree! But if the venue is in a part of the country that you don’t know, why not make a weekend of it and visit the local tourist attractions while you are there. It will help the local economy, especially if you visit small, independent shops…and you might discover a hidden gem!

5. Where shall I stay?
Staying in local B+Bs rather than big hotels helps the local economy, and if you can find one that serves Fairtrade tea and coffee, or uses energy efficient lightbulbs – so much the better!

6. What shall I get them?
This is the biggie. There are so many options now for ethical giving that the hard part is choosing! If the couple have specifically asked for Fairtrade, or environmentally friendly gifts, then the easiest way is to do as requested! There are many beautiful and original gifts that can be bought (online or in an independent retail outlet) that make a difference, either to some of the world’s poorest communities or to the preservation of the environment. The couple may have asked for contributions to a specific charity or to a charity gift list. If they have, and you still feel you want to give them something ‘to remember the day by’, why not buy a small fairly traded present and make a slightly smaller contribution? If the couple have asked for big-store items, you could always buy something smaller and make an unusual addition – planting a tree in their married name, for example! If the couple have a good sense of humour, a ‘condom kit’ (the money goes to providing contraception advice in Africa) from Oxfam Unwrapped can be a humorous present to remember!

7. I think it’s easier to give them money and let the couple choose what they want
So it is…but how about suggesting that the couple put that money into an ethical investment fund, which buys shares in companies that make a positive contribution to the community or environment. Socially responsible savings and investments are becoming more mainstream nowadays, and (hopefully!) the investment will do well –at the same time as doing good.

8. Yes, but I don’t want to choose something from a list. I want to do something different!
Fine! How about making up a hamper of Fairtrade products – not just the staples like tea and coffee, but wine, pasta, rice, honey and jam would make a tasty addition to any kitchen! Or if you want to be really unusual you could make up a box of environmentally friendly cleaning products from Ecover and throw in some energy efficient lightbulbs!

9. On the day itself…
Tissues made from recycled paper, biodegradable confetti and digital cameras (not disposables!) would all help to save the planet.

10. It’s their anniversary already!
A year has gone and it’s time to send them a card to celebrate. How about a beautiful Fairtrade one? And the present? Well, traditionally on the first anniversary paper gifts are given, so how about some recycled paper products – or a book about ethical living?