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Our Celtic Jewelry

(Some of Helen’s Celtic Ring Designs)

The intent of fair trade is to create beneficial economic relationships between producers in developing nations and consumers in developed nations. Fair trade translates to transparent, ethical labor and environmentally responsible sourcing.   Fair trade jewelry authentically supports artisan mining communities who are often living in very poor regions. It is also produced from artisanal crafts people and manufacturers. We, too, are an artisan jewelry shop that produce what we make with our own hands.

Jewelry is usually made up of component pieces that come from all over the world.  Even basic traceability and transparency of our inventory with over 3000 inventory is very difficult.   One of the most nefarious elements of that chain was relying upon the precious metal mining.  Converted to 100% recycled silver and gold has been foundational to our ethical stance.

We do not claim that our pieces are fair trade, since we fabricate our designs in our Santa Fe, New Mexico studio.   However, there are elements within our jewelry pieces that we do claim as following the principles of fair trade, particularly our chain and the more expensive gemstones that we offer in our wedding rings.

Artisan production is particularly important because jewelry carries the energy of its maker embedded in its highly symbolic meaning. A wedding ring that is generically dye struck from a machine will carry the energy of how it was created.   We are not about commodity, but artistry and pride.  We guarantee our designs against defective workmanship for as long as you own it.

Our artisan designer rings, created with great skill, are worthy of representing your most noble sentiments. As they are made by American artisans, they can not be considered “fair trade.” However, many of the gemstones we offer support producer communities in the developing world.

Fair Trade Gemstones

In an ideal world, a fair trade gem would come from a third party certified, cooperative mining community. Beneficiation, including polishing and community development, would be based in and benefit local economies. This situation simply does not exist. Instead, we source our gems from companies that fall into three different models for the emerging for fair trade market: Co-ops, Companies, and Collaborators.

For more detailed info, visit our Fair Trade Gem Section.

Fair Trade Diamonds

A universally accepted definition of what constitutes a fair trade diamond has yet to be established, even though studies have been conducted. The critical issue is who will benefit from this labeling: large or small scale producers?

In our view, fair trade diamonds should be restricted only to those diamonds that are sourced from small community based, artisanal miners; and then, polished in those communities. Only such projects, independent of international corporations which are beholden to shareholders, could validly produce ‘fair trade diamonds.’

Presently, a few of these projects are underway. But they have yet to provide product that we have access to. Therefore, the best possible option is to know where your diamonds are sourced and cut.

Fair Trade Gold

In March of 2010, third party Fair Trade gold was introduced into the EU market. This is the first time that a mined commodity has been third party certified as fair trade by Fair Labelling International (FLO). To learn more about fair trade gold, read this interview between Marc Choyt, co-owner of Celticjewelry.com who is also publisher of www.fairjewelry.org, and Patrick Schein, a precious metal refiner based in Paris fully committed to ethical gold sourcing. Schein is a board member of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), which pioneered the initiative.

Fair Trade Manufacturing

If you google “fair trade jewelry,” our blog, www.fairjewelry.org, will come up number one. But after that, a number of websites sell “fair trade jewelry.”

The network of Fair Trade organizations (IFAT) and the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) lists jewelry as a product category. In doing so, they endorse efforts of small producers who abide by fair trade principals to market themselves as “fair trade jewelry.”

Yet they do not exactly define what the making of fair trade jewelry might entail in the actual workshop. While general fair trade principals are relatively easy to define, the actual standards pose a more difficult challenge.

If you ask companies that sell fair trade jewelry where their silver come from, how their production facilities is ventilated, what chemicals are used in solders and fluxes and how waste products are disposed of, it is unlikely that they will be able to tell you.

Marc Choyt, co-owner of Reflective Images, is spearheading defining fair trade manufacturing as part of an initiative that came from the Madison Dialogs. You can read about these efforts to defining fair trade manufacturing Madison Dialogue Manufacturing and those who are joining him on his industry leading blog.

Given the chaos of the market, which leads one to question, Is There Such A Thing As Fair Trade Jewelry? our stance is transparency.

(Our manufacturing in Bali for other lines we produce uses recycled sterling and adheres to fair trade principals.)

Below you can read about why we claim our factory in Bali works on fair trade manufacturing principals. The factory is located in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

Wages:

  • Entry level people earn slightly higher than minimum wage until they are trained, unless they come with a skill level and then they commence work at a commensurate rate.
  • Average salaried workers earn about 75% above minimum wage.
  • Average piece workers earn 37% above minimum wage.

Benefits:

  • Free optional housing for single workers. At present, about fifty non-local employees who live outside of Denpassar (Bali’s capitol), live in factory housing.. Presently, the company cannot afford to house married couples or families.
  • Payment of the local village residency tax, 10% of the minimum wage, which is in most instances a responsibility of the employee.
  • A medical fund.
  • A free lunch. This program is provided for factory workers, which as of the fall, 2007, was about 100 plates of food a day. Filtered water for all is also provided.