I was about four years into my career in the City working for one of the world’s largest investment banks as the UK banks research analyst. I had always dreamt of running my own business and decided to take the plunge! I contacted the Embassy of Peru in London for a list of Peruvian jewellery designers and manufacturers and was on the next flight to Peru.
I started by working with artisanal jewellery companies in Peru with the mission of promoting young Peruvian designers in the UK to improve the quality of life for them and their artisans. Through my experiences I realised in order to make a real difference to the people of Peru and ethical jewellery we needed to work with large scale commercial supply chains. Through this vision the idea of Chavin (pro-nounced sha-veen) Jewellery was born. Chavin Jewellery is a new design led ethical jewellery brand focused on Peru which is launching at the IJL in September 2011.
As a brand we believe in integrating ethical practices into the core of our business. Modern female consumers don’t want to choose between ethics and aesthetics. They want both and that is what we are offering to consumers. We offer an exceptional commercial design led product but what really sets us apart is our commitment to ethical practices.
Chavin sits at the convergence of luxury and responsibility - a belief that luxury need not only be focused on material gratification. Through the empowerment of people and societies ethical gratification can be achieved. Our innovative partnership with SOS Children, the world’s largest orphans and abandoned children’s charity, will enable us to accomplish this.
Through our partnership with SOS Children we re-invest into Peruvian communities and families where our jewellery is manufactured. We are supporting the development of SOS Children “Luz Y Vida” project in Northern Lima which not only helps improve the economic situation for families but also provides methods of working with interpersonal situations such as domestic violence, suppression of women or basic health knowledge (many things that we take for granted in the western world). However, to really make a difference we need to take it further than just financially supporting projects but rather integrate a concept we call “DO-NATING”. This means we act! We are committed to setting up long term skills transfer programmes and will be working alongside SOS Children to develop their jewellery making class which teaches mothers to make commercial jewellery from metal filaments and plastic pearls. This helps them secure small additional income to improve the quality of life for them and their families.
Through “DO-NATING” everyone from our suppliers to the end customer automatically becomes a partner with Chavin in making a difference to people’s lives in Peru!
In recent months I believe that the jewellery industry has been a victim of negative press that is not justified. Our goal is to lead the way on ethical practices for commercial jewellery brands. We recognize that it is very difficult to be 100% ethical and commercial at the same time. We have worked very hard with our supply chain to be as ethical as possible with commercial capacity. Our jewellery manufacturer prides itself on corporate social responsibility and is working hard to recycle as much as possible from the manufacturing processes.
They only buy the metals from the formal mining sector in Peru which has strict corporate social responsibility. Whilst some may argue that we should be using fairmined artisanal gold or fair trade gemstones which aren’t commercial, our commitment to ethics is underpinned by our long term partnership with SOS Children.
The idea of integrating Fair Trade/fairmined gold into our supply chain has cropped up and it is something I would like to do as there are two additional fairmined Gold mines coming online in Peru later this year. At this stage it is just not practical as the commercial supply is not available and there are other issues that need to be addressed to make it commercially viable. Chavin manufactures its jewellery in Peru as it is the largest producer of silver and one of the largest producers of gold in the world. By manufacturing our jewellery in Peru we are making a difference as it is helping the Peruvians benefit from their natural resources.
Are we not making more of a difference to people’s lives by re-investing in Peruvian communities alongside SOS Children and compromising on certain aspects of our supply chain that can’t be used due to their lack of commerciality?
We will always strive to integrate the best ethical practices into our supply chain and are open to suggestions how we can do this but they must be commercially viable!