*UPDATE* Since writing this blog post, Cred Jewellwery has sadly ceased trading. If you’re looking for ethical, Fairtrade engagement and wedding rings, check out Lebrusan Studio, Serendipty Diamonds or Made Diamonds.
This week on the blog I wanted to feature Cred Jewellery, a company focussed on creating ethical engagement rings and sustainable jewellery crafted from Fairtrade gold.
Earlier this year, to celebrate my little one’s first birthday my husband bought me an amazing gift, of an eternity ring. We’d talked about it a little beforehand and Pete said he’d been doing some research into the diamond industry. It’s something I knew nothing about and hadn’t put much thought into, but there are many and varied issues in the industry, from workers rights and child labour, safety and conditions, to precious diamonds being illegally mined and sold to fund wars and terrorism activities. We decided that buying an eternity ring that funded this didn’t sit well with our values and ethics, so we didn’t discuss it any further.
‘Child labour is extensive in artisanal mining. Numerous men, women and children die from gold mining every day due to no health and safety regulations, exhaustion and high exposure to mercury.’
That’s why I was so surprised when I was presented with an extra little gift on the morning of Abby’s first birthday, and opened it up to find a beautiful ring. Pete went on to explain to me about a company he had discovered who create ethical jewellery, with ethically mined or lab grown diamonds, and Fairtrade gold.
Sustainable and Ethical Wedding and Engagement Rings
I really wanted to find out more about ethical jewellery, and to help let others know that this is an option. I got in touch with Cred Jewellery, a company established in 1996, and founded to improve the lives of small scale gold miners. They have been building relationships with the miners and communities ever since.
I caught up with Sarah and Jade from the small and friendly team of 7 who work at Cred Jewellery, to learn more about their company, ethos and how their approach is different.
What are the issues in the wider industry in terms of precious metals and diamond mining?
Sustainable living is something that has grown significantly over the last few years. More people want to know where their products come from and that what they purchase has been produced under conditions that respect human rights.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the jewellery industry, not many people can give you full transparency.
There are a large number of gold miners around the world who are called ‘artisanal miners’ or small-scale miners. Over 90% of the world’s gold is mined by this group of miners. This type of mining is often illegal and dangerous, but the workers have no choice but to work in these conditions to feed their families.
There are more than 100 million people who depend on artisanal mining to live and around 40 million men, women and children working in this industry. Child labour is extensive in artisanal mining. Numerous men, women and children die from gold mining every day due to no health and safety regulations, exhaustion and high exposure to mercury.
‘Buying ethically sourced jewellery makes a significant difference to not only the miners but the local communities of the mines too.’
How does Cred challenge this, and how do you ensure that your products are ethical?
At Cred Jewellery we ensure that we know exactly where our Gold and Silver comes from (down to the precise hole in the ground), and that there is NO child or forced labour, full health and safety regulations and no mercury used in the mining of our gold. We can also tell you exactly where the jewellery is made and we ensure to ethically source our diamonds and sapphires.
Our diamonds are either lab-grown, ethically sourced from Namibia and Canada, while our Sapphires are ethically sourced from Malawi, Australia, Montana and Sri Lanka.
Alan, the director of Cred, ensures to visit the mines in Peru every 6 months. He strongly believes knowing the miners personally and visiting them often is just as important as knowing where it comes from. By supplying known origin gold, Cred makes an alternative gold supply chain possible.
To ensure not only our products are transparent but our packaging is too, we have just recently launched new sustainable packaging which is FSC certified, recycled paper. Our ring boxes are now made from sustainable timber and our bags for postal orders are 100% home compostable and made out of plant material.
‘With Fairtrade, the miners earn a guaranteed fair price, which is at least 95% of the international market rate for the gold that they mine.’
How does buying ethically sourced jewellery make a difference?
‘Buying ethically sourced jewellery makes a significant difference to not only the miners but the local communities of the mines too. With Fairtrade, the miners earn a guaranteed fair price, which is at least 95% of the international market rate for the gold that they mine. Here at CRED, we pay 99% to the miners.
For every kilo of gold produced and sold, $2,000 is paid to the miners’ community as a Fairtrade Premium. This money goes into the community fund and they then decide how it should be spent. The premiums have paid for teachers at the local schools and sporting facilities for the children and workers at both mines. So far, Cred has raised $441,138 in premiums alone!
For us, it is more than that. When the village in Macdesa burnt down almost completely in 2014, we raised $7,000 for 12 computers for the local school, with an additional $1,400 raised for servicing and dust proofing these computers 3 years later.
At Macdesa, the women wanted to set up a micro-business to make safety clothing for the miners. With the help of The Company of Master Jewellers, we raised and donated $24,000 to give them the opportunity to make that happen.’
Can you tell me more about lab-grown diamonds? How are they different?
Lab Grown diamonds are almost revolutionary, not just because of how they are made but because of the reduced carbon footprint. Lab Grown diamonds produce only 22% of the carbon footprint of a mined diamond. They are an excellent choice for anyone looking to buy an ethical engagement ring for a loved one.
They are much more traceable than most mined diamonds and are conflict-free so if you are after the most transparent and ethical diamond, Lab Grown diamonds are definitely for you! Not only that, they are in the category Type 2A, which only 2% of mined diamonds are in. This means that they have fewer trace elements of other minerals, making them overall a better cut, clarity and colour.
They take around 3-4 weeks to make on average. Lab Grown diamonds are chemically, atomically and physically the same as a mined diamond. (They just take around 1-3.3 billion years quicker to create than a mined diamond!)
‘Lab Grown diamonds produce only 22% of the carbon footprint of a mined diamond, and have fewer trace elements of other minerals, making them overall a better cut, clarity and colour.’
How can people find out more?
We have a studio in Farringdon, London and a shop in Chichester, West Sussex. Cred is a small but friendly team of 7. Alan, Elinor, Millie, Sarah, Bianca, Jade and Lynne.
To find out about what we offer, it would be best to visit our website. We have recently started a mailing list so customers can be informed of our latest promotions and receive a quarterly newsletter. On the website, you can buy from the ‘ready to wear’ range of jewellery and also enquire about bespoke pieces. For ring sizing or to browse our collections of ethical engagement rings in person, you can make an appointment to visit us at our London studio or our shop in Chichester.
Thank you so much to Sarah and Jade at Cred Jewellery for taking the time to chat to me and help me learn more about ethical Jewellery!
If you’re thinking of proposing and looking for an ethical engagement ring, or if you’re already engaged and looking for wedding bands I would highly recommend checking out Cred – their jewellery is wonderful.
When you’re making an investment in a special piece of jewellery like an engagement ring or a wedding band, it’s so good to know the provenance of it, and that the money you’re spending is helping to make the world a better place.
If you’re interested in more Supplier Spotlight features, you can find them here, and my other Hints and Tips articles can be found here!