As any of you who follow my blog will know, I’ve been growing a conscience over the past few years. This is a result of discovering more about how the materials that I use in my jewellery are produced. It’s not a pretty story.
I’m not alone in this concern. One of my clients recently commissioned a ring as a ruby wedding gift and she was very clear that she wanted fair trade rubies rather than stones that had come through the normal channels of supply.
Those normal channels often involve child labour, exploitative wages and appalling working conditions. If I can buy a faceted amethyst in this country for little more than a pound, then it probably came into the country for 50p. Who mined it? Who cut it and how much did they get for doing so. Most of that 50p, of course, went to the middle men.
The rubies in this ring cost four times as much as equivalent stones that are not certified as fair trade. As a consequence, my client paid more than she’d originally wanted to for the ring and I made considerably less than I’d have liked but we were both happy and that, after all, is what jewellery should be about.
Money, as far as I’m concerned, is a curse if you have too little or too much. Either way, you end up being preoccupied with it. I’ve come to realise, over the years, that ‘Enough’ is about right. The workers who are cutting gem stones are working stupidly hard just to survive. Money has to be a preoccupation for them. The big businessmen who are looking to make larger profits from these workers in order to maintain their lavish life styles are also worried and preoccupied with money. I wouldn’t want either situation. (No, really).
I made ‘enough’ on the ring.
I have no illusions: doing this job is never going to make me rich, but for me and for my clients who care about where their treasures come from, there are much more important elements to our happiness than making a little more or spending a little less.
To help offset the low profit from the commission, I’m offering the ring for a limited period as part of my silver and gold range. You can find it here and there’s a little video on the page as well so that you can see how the gold river snakes around the ring.