BIRMINGHAM, England, February 2011 – The Birmingham based rapid-protyping and casting company, Weston Beamor, has said that it has become the UK’s first company to gain permission to operate as certified caster of ‘Fairtrade and Fairmined’ gold.
The announcement follows several months of intensive work with the Fairtrade Foundation, the independent non-profit organisation that licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in the UK in accordance with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.
To be accepted as a ‘Fairtrade and Fairmined’ producer, Weston Beamor has had to put in place a rigorous tracking system to trace the gold throughout its manufacturing processes and ensure that it is kept entirely separate from all the company’s other production alloys.
To ensure that products can be easily identified and properly tracked throughout their entire life, a Fairtrade and a Fairmined hallmark have been created and these will be applied to Weston Beamor’s castings at the sub-Assay Office within its production facility which is operated for them by Birmingham Assay Office.
The gold Weston Beamor will be using for casting is a world first, in so far as it has been mined using an independent, ethical certification system for monitoring small-scale miners, working mainly in Bolivia and Peru and in that it offers a fair deal for all those involved in the production process.
Representatives from the two mining co-operatives concerned visited Weston Beamor’s stand at The Jewellery Show. Mrs Juana Pena, Chair of the Cooperative Minera Cotapata in Bolivia and Mr Manuel Reinoso, of the Compania Minera La Victoria in Peru met members of Weston Beamor’s production team and saw examples of the sort of products which will eventually be created using their gold. Mrs Pena said that she believed gaining Fairtrade status would help her and her fellow workers to gain better prices for their gold and would help to improve their day-to-day working situation.
“We are absolutely delighted to be able to offer Weston Beamor’s customers the chance to work with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold,” says Group Managing Director, Andrew Morton. “Ethics are high on our list of business priorities and this is an excellent way for us to be able to demonstrate pro-actively our commitment to fair-sourcing practices. It was a particular privilege to welcome representatives of the two mining cooperatives to Birmingham and their visit certainly gave a very personal face to our supply chain. We look forward to building a close working relationship with them over the years to come.”
At present the supply of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is relatively limited and casting at Weston Beamor will initially be available in 18ct yellow, white and rose gold and only to those companies and designers who have also received certification from the Fairtrade Foundation to manufacture in the metal.’
It is still early days and as yet no prices are available for Fairtrade casting. However it is anticipated that due to the limited supply and strong anticipated demand for the actual gold, these will be higher than for ordinary gold and that production runs will be available for small quantities only.
“Jewellery is always a highly emotional purchase and we know from our customers that many, particularly younger, eco-friendly consumers are prepared to pay that little bit more for something they can buy with an easy conscience,” says Morton.
Jewellery makers who would be interested in gaining certification to work with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold should speak with Victoria Waugh at the Fair Trade Foundation in London on 0207 440 7674. Those who already have certification may like to contact Tony Shellam at Weston Beamor on 0121 678 4131 who will be pleased to tell them more.
“It is going to take a little while longer before Fairtrade and Fairmined gold jewellery is available for retailers to sell on to the public but we have undoubtedly taken a huge leap forward this week,” says Morton, “and I guarantee it won’t be many more years before certified Fairtrade products are as common in jewellery shops as they are in supermarkets.”