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Fairtrade and Fairmined gold celebrates its first birthday

Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is celebrating its first anniversary this fortnight.

It has been a busy year since the launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold jewellery. The Fairtrade Foundation, which certifies the gold, has announced that 350kg per year of gold will soon be available to jewellers, with more to follow. In the first year of trading, four gold mining organisations have become certified and an additional two are currently going through the inspection process and will enter the system in May.

The Fairtrade Foundation has reported that sales of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold bullion reached an estimated £700,000 in 2011.

The benefits of the gold are already being felt. People living in the isolated Peruvian community of Santa Filomena have already reaped the benefits since Sotrami, the first Peruvian mining organisation to be certified, began working with Cred Jewellery. Thanks to the Fairtrade premium, the community invested in healthcare, built an extension to the primary school and bought computers for the senior school. They also opened a not-for-profit convenience store, allowing the 500-strong community to buy food at reasonable prices.

Supplies of gold are set to increase further too. A grant of £820,318 from Comic Relief over the next three years, will see the Fairtrade Foundation partnering with Fairtrade Africa, the Alliance for Responsible Mining and Solidaridad to develop gold supplies from artisanal and small-scale miners in Africa.

Fairtrade Foundation business development manager Victoria Waugh said: “We are very excited to celebrate the anniversary of the world’s first responsibly mined gold and are delighted that Comic Relief is making this hugely significant investment, which gives a real opportunity to some of the world’s poorest miners in Africa.

“Through the financial and developmental benefits of Fairtrade – including additional premium, pre-finance and long-term business relations with traders – even more producers have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty and create sustainable livelihoods for their families and communities.”

She added: “We’re calling on the jewellery industry to support artisanal miners by choosing to source certified gold for their business, and consumers to take a step for gold miners by buying jewellery pieces marked with the Fairtrade and Fairmined dual stamp.”

Estimated UK retail sales of all Fairtrade products in 2011 reached £1.32bn, a 12% increase on sales of £1.17bn in 2010.

The Fairtrade Foundation is currently working with 40 jewellers, almost double the number at the time of the launch, and has licensed 591 individual jewellery pieces plus several entire collections. Last year also saw numerous bespoke commissions in Fairtrade Fairmined gold, including high profile appearances on TV presenter, radio DJ and model Lisa Snowdon and actor Colin Firth’s wife Livia Firth as part of her Green Carpet Challenge at the 2011 Oscars.

Going forward, the Fairtrade Foundation intends to build consumer awareness of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold over the coming year and to help consumers better understand why buying jewellery made from Fairtrade and Fairmined gold for a special occasion holds greater value and significance.

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