EDINBURGH, March 4, 2017 - The Scottish Goldsmiths’ Trust, the charitable arm of the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, shared with us their latest initiative of setting up an online ethical jewellery resource for informing jewellery designers who want to work towards a green practice.
It’s in Our Hands – Symposium on the Future of Ethical Jewellery Making in Scotland
In partnership with the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, we held our first ethical jewellery symposium called ‘It’s in our Hands – The Future of Ethical Making’ in Scotland, supported by a workshop on sustainable jewellery practices. The Symposium looked at issues of ethics in the jewellery industry, how and why to adopt an ethical jewellery practice. We had an incredible line-up of internationally renowned activists, jewellery makers and professionals in the luxury industry who offered a wide range of perspectives on the most important steps of setting up a sustainable fine jewellery business. These included Greg Valerio - pioneering ethical jewellery designer and activist who explained the differences between FairTrade, FairMined and recycled materials, Ute Decker - ethical jeweller and researcher whose website presents a wealth of information on suppliers, Karen Westland, jeweller and silversmith – participant at Elements – Edinburgh’s Festival of Jewellery, Gold & Silver who voiced the views of the makers’ community. Regarding the broader history of precious materials sourcing and its environmental and socioeconomic impact, Dr Peter Oakley from the Royal School of Art introduced international case studies on the history of precious metal mining, while ethical consultant, Vivien Johnston, pointed to the opportunity for innovation that our very own Scottish gold mine – Scot Gold in Tyndrum presents, and Marian Brown, founder of Ostrero – a circular economy information agency, shared more about the many opportunities in Scotland for companies adopting a Circular Economy model. Mary Michel, Director of the Incorporation, finished off by discussing the components of the jewellery-making chain of custody and the importance of provenance when creating unique pieces. She advised designers to always approach their practice by questioning how their art pieces, their design and materials add to their unique story and distinctive mark.
The Idea of the Ethical Jewellery Resource
The buzz created by the topics covered resonated in our chat with the designers: “How can I become an ethical jewellery designer? Where do I get the support to start off on that journey?” These were the recurring questions that our speakers also addressed. This lack of organised information is also how the Incorporation of Goldsmiths came up with the idea to build an online ethical resource and forum. At the start of 2017, our organisation started gathering practical information from jewellers, activists and researchers on work techniques, material sources and suppliers, and networking opportunities. The aim is to bring together the fragmented information surrounding ethical making and present it in an easily understandable and accessible format. This information will soon form the basis of an online living document and meeting place for makers to share information about techniques, suppliers and materials, challenges and tips. We hope that the community of ethical makers will help with this growth by continuing to tell us about their experiences and challenges. Please let us know what would be most useful for you in the resource via email at email@example.com Check for more news at the Incorporation’s website & @IncOfGoldsmiths and drop us a line if you would like to receive our newsletter on best sustainable practices and more information on setting up your ethical business.
The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh is a non-profit organisation set up by Royal Charter in 1687. Today it is the oldest consumer protection group in Scotland and it is believed to be the oldest continuously existing business of any kind in the country. The Incorporation operates two charities, “Silver of the Stars” and “The Scottish Goldsmiths’ Trust”, and administers the Edinburgh Assay Office. The Incorporation, in collaboration with Lyon and Turnbull, has worked to produce ‘Elements’ - An annual 4-day festival of jewellery, gold and silver in Scotland. The applications to exhibit at the festival are now open until Friday 24th March. The Incorporation has worked in partnership with Edinburgh City Council to create the Silver of the Stars Creative Learning Resource.
What our Keynote Speakers said about our Ethical Resource Project:
“In the many years across multiple countries I have been addressing ethics in jewellery, Scotland has been the most receptive and fertile country of them all. Scotland has a real chance to become the world’s leading ethical designer maker nation. The ethical practices directory being created by Scottish Goldsmiths Trust will be a world first. So glad to have a been a part of what you are all doing”. Greg Valerio MBE