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2010 Rapaport Fair Trade Jewelry Conference

coati

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Martin Rapaport proposed the concept of Fair Trade as a supplement to the Kimberley Process, after an emphatic critique of the current KP at his annual JCK, “State of the Diamond Industry” presentation. While the Kimberley Process has been helpful in curbing the flow of conflict diamonds from rebel groups fighting legitimate governments, there is a void when it comes to violent governments who export rough by enforcing the slavery of artisanal diamond miners. The situation in Zimbabwe exemplifies the problems with the current execution of the KP.

Fair Trade

Maya Spaull from TransFair USA outlined their successes in creating a sustainable marketplace for commodities including coffee, cocoa, sugar and vanilla. They are developing a Fair Trade system for gold, and they proposed the same strategy for diamonds and colored gems. Fair Trade helps artisanal miners take ownership of their mines and would ensure the protection of human rights, healthy working conditions, improved quality of life, legalization, gender equality, non-discrimination policies, and environmental protection. Consumers are demanding “clean gold,” and Fair Trade mining practices present a sustainable trajectory for the jewelry industry.

From TransFair USA:

Fair Trade is much more than a fair price! Fair Trade principles include:

--Fair price: Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.

--Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.

--Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

--Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.

--Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.

--Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The first Fair Trade gold products will be on the market in the UK in 2011, and the US is soon to follow.

At the afternoon conference Martin Rapaport wished to send a positive message to the jewelry industry with the hope that different groups like Fair Trade, Diamond Development Initiative and Responsible Jewellery Council will continue their work in conjunction with the Kimberley Process and create new strategies for the industry. There are no easy answers when it comes artisanal diamond mining, but at the very least, there are organizations working diligently to combat the current problems.

Current articles--Zimbabwe

http://bit.ly/b8Cp0Z

http://bit.ly/90PobK

Eric Braunwart, an audience member at the Rapaport conference spoke about Fair Trade in Colored Gems.
Fair Trade Gems
 

Karl_K

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Erika,
What is your opinion on what was said?
Do you feel it was well received by those in the industry?
 

coati

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Hey Karl,

It was well received by those who attended the afternoon conference, but unfortunately, there were less than 50 people in the room. The retailers who were present responded with interest, as Fair Trade highlights a new group of consumers-young people who want to buy ethically.

It’s a worthy idea for a complex problem with no end in sight. I’m a big supporter of improving the livelihood of artisanal miners worldwide, and if Fair Trade can assist miners by giving them ownership, a better quality of life, and governmental protection for their back-breaking work, then by all means, it should be utilized. I agree that there is no clear answer, but any step to raise awareness about their plight is a step in the right direction.

What are your thoughts on Fair Trade?
 

Karl_K

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Date: 6/10/2010 1:24:45 PM
Author: coatimundi

What are your thoughts on Fair Trade?

I like the concept, I am a firm believer that a countries resources belong to the people of that country and they should be the ones to profit not multinational corporations.
It is hard to make it work however.
The corporations have a strangle hold on government around the world and the small players can not match them in payouts and power unless they band together.
When they do band together the government is often used to crush them.
With a corrupt government in charge and multinationals supporting there is little hope of it working in many areas.
The only change that will work in the long term is the people throwing the corrupt government out of power.
The problem with that is that corrupt opportunists often take over who are just as bad as the current government.
In areas with a stable and people friendly government it has a chance of helping but in the worst areas the corruption is to great I fear.
 

sphenequeen

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Hi Coati,

I would like to know what was discussed about the stakeholders living around the mine who are often not employed by the mine but who feel the effects of environmental and cultural degradation.
 

coati

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Hi Sphenequeen,

If the miners have better conditions through environmental regulations, then the stakeholders and surrounding communities will benefit as well. The stakeholders were not specifically addressed in depth, but Fair Trade has a great interest in protecting the surrounding environment for sustainable mining.

Here is a great free publication on responsible artisanal mining.
The Golden Vein

What do you think about the application of Fair Trade in diamonds? Any other thoughts?

eta: I liken it to the non mechanized or traditional mining of colored gems in Sri Lanka. The government has a huge stake in protecting the environment to provide a steady supply of gems for years to come.
 

Regular Guy

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Thanks Coati for this piece.

A quick search on Fair Trade here sends me to memory late, and primarily selling diamonds that are 5 + carats now?), and where the nuances of how you spend money...Fair Trade vs Sam''s Club, had been raised and discussed...
 

sphenequeen

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I think that Fair Trade in the mining industry sounds like a great idea but it is loaded with an array of issues, namely above market prices, which we all know is an major issue with a variety of commodites. Is that the cost of bringing about regulation? Perhaps. I see Fair Trade merely as a bandaid that is trying to cover up too large an issue that impacts too many people with too many nuanced issues and needs.

I also think that the issue of Fair Trade does not extend far enough to reach local communities that are the most effected by mining operations. While I agree with what Coati said about how more environmental regulations will mean better lives for local people, in my opinion, Fair Trade will not have enough of an impact on those not engaged in the mining process but directly effected by the runoff from the mines (i.e the people of Cajamarca, Peru).

As Karl_K pointed out, there have been uprisings in many countries due to mining operations infringing on the rights and lands of local and indigenous populations. The outcome has been not in the favor of "the big bad multi-national mine," but rather in favor of the people who are fighting for a better way of life. If Fair Trade is to work, the local voices and their unique demands need to be heard.
 

coati

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Date: 6/10/2010 6:12:17 PM
Author: sphenequeen
I think that Fair Trade in the mining industry sounds like a great idea but it is loaded with an array of issues, namely above market prices, which we all know is an major issue with a variety of commodites. Is that the cost of bringing about regulation? Perhaps. I see Fair Trade merely as a bandaid that is trying to cover up too large an issue that impacts too many people with too many nuanced issues and needs.

Thanks for the comments sphenequeen-

--above market prices:

You may also ask: What is the cost of cheap products? Multinationals may be able to lower the prices of goods, but there is a huge cost to the laborer, the environment, and the general economy. If the cost of Fair Trade whole bean coffee is 1-2$ more than non, it benefits the farmer’s livelihood, supports environmental regulation, and sustains the quality and growth of that product. Is it the cost regulation? Yes, and it is money well spent.

Above market prices necessarily follow Fair Trade, especially with luxury items like diamonds. Diamonds already carry a premium depending on quality and where one purchases, so it is not unrealistic to expect a premium for Fair Trade stones-it’s merely an extension of the industry.

If Fair Trade represents an ineffectual band-aid to you, then what do you propose for artisanal miners worldwide? Rapaport called upon the industry to create awareness and make change, but he is also calling upon the consumer to make demands of their retailers. What do you propose? Not singling you out sphenequeen-I appreciate your comments. I am genuinely interested in consumer response to this topic.

The mining and farming will continue with or without Fair Trade, so the group's efforts and successes are worthwile.

...a work-in-progress
 

coati

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Date: 6/10/2010 2:01:22 PM
Author: Karl_K
Date: 6/10/2010 1:24:45 PM

Author: coatimundi


What are your thoughts on Fair Trade?


I like the concept, I am a firm believer that a countries resources belong to the people of that country and they should be the ones to profit not multinational corporations.

It is hard to make it work however.

The corporations have a strangle hold on government around the world and the small players can not match them in payouts and power unless they band together.

When they do band together the government is often used to crush them.

With a corrupt government in charge and multinationals supporting there is little hope of it working in many areas.

The only change that will work in the long term is the people throwing the corrupt government out of power.

The problem with that is that corrupt opportunists often take over who are just as bad as the current government.

In areas with a stable and people friendly government it has a chance of helping but in the worst areas the corruption is to great I fear.

Well said.

Your points were among many debated at the panel discussion. Rapaport tried to bring the conversation back to the positive aspects of Fair Trade, but it is complicated to say the least.

Like you, I appreciate the concept and much of the execution (in other commodities), but we have yet to see how it will evolve.

eta: Fair Trade gold presents other complications with alloyed gold being used primarily in jewelry application. If you buy a gold ring with the Fair Trade label, does it apply to alloys or fine gold only? Something to think about..
 

sphenequeen

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Date: 6/10/2010 7:53:20 PM
Author: coatimundi
Date: 6/10/2010 6:12:17 PM

Author: sphenequeen

I think that Fair Trade in the mining industry sounds like a great idea but it is loaded with an array of issues, namely above market prices, which we all know is an major issue with a variety of commodites. Is that the cost of bringing about regulation? Perhaps. I see Fair Trade merely as a bandaid that is trying to cover up too large an issue that impacts too many people with too many nuanced issues and needs.


Thanks for the comments sphenequeen-


--above market prices:


You may also ask: What is the cost of cheap products? Multinationals may be able to lower the prices of goods, but there is a huge cost to the laborer, the environment, and the general economy. If the cost of Fair Trade whole bean coffee is 1-2$ more than non, it benefits the farmer’s livelihood, supports environmental regulation, and sustains the quality and growth of that product. Is it the cost regulation? Yes, and it is money well spent.


Above market prices necessarily follow Fair Trade, especially with luxury items like diamonds. Diamonds already carry a premium depending on quality and where one purchases, so it is not unrealistic to expect a premium for Fair Trade stones-it’s merely an extension of the industry.


If Fair Trade represents an ineffectual band-aid to you, then what do you propose for artisanal miners worldwide? Rapaport called upon the industry to create awareness and make change, but he is also calling upon the consumer to make demands of their retailers. What do you propose? Not singling you out sphenequeen-I appreciate your comments. I am genuinely interested in consumer response to this topic.


The mining and farming will continue with or without Fair Trade, so the group''s efforts and successes are worthwile.


...a work-in-progress

Hi Coati,

I agree that the groups efforts and success are worthwhile. I think that the ethics surrounding gem and ore mining are being brought to light and it is a more environmentally aware consumer, or "conscientous consumer" that will be the real driving force behind this movement. The reason I feel that "Fair Trade" is a band-aid is simply because this industry is so difficult to regulate to begin with. This point was stated in the piece about the shortcomings of the Kimberly Process. The commodities that are extracted are often times done so from areas where there are very corrupt governments with LONG political and cultural histories of war and oppression. The ideas set forth by the Fair Trade agreement on mining will only go as far as those who are willing to participate in them. For example, is Burma really off limits? Ask the gem dealer who is selling that burmese ruby. Because these items are so easily smuggled (unlike hundreds of pounds of coffee and sugar), I think this is a bigger fish to fry.

Having said all of that I do feel very passionately about a more "Bottoms-Up" approach with regards to decision making when it comes to artisanal miners, locals, and indigenous communities. I just do not know if a trade agreement will wipe the slate clean. I think the work will happen on the ground, talking to the miners, locals, and indigenous populations, hearing their needs, and trying to come to a compromise because this industry is not going anywhere.
 

coati

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A lot of great insight in this thread-thank you.

To clarify:
Fair Trade is not a trade agreement in the traditional sense. It is a social movement, which provides certification for commodities produced by participating networks. It is a trading partnership rather than a designated governmental sanction.

Organizations designed to protect human rights and control rampant human greed will always be rife with issues. The contradictions and problems have been stated in this thread, at the Rapaport conference, and in the trade. We can continue to state the problems or we can move to a brainstorming session of potential solutions. Fair Trade put their solutions on the table, and as consumers, we are an integral part of the conversation.

Date: 6/11/2010 1:08:20 AM
Author: sphenequeen
I think that the ethics surrounding gem and ore mining are being brought to light and it is a more environmentally aware consumer, or 'conscientous consumer' that will be the real driving force behind this movement.

Take a look at Eric Braunwart of Fair Trade Gems. The way he chooses to run his business is a step in the direction of assisting artisanal miners. He acknowledges that his efforts are a work in progress, but he has placed the onus on himself to do his part to affect the trade.

What are your thoughts on the individual responsibilities of retailers? We all know that our relationships with our dealers are worth their weight in gold, so what would you ask of your retailer when it comes to the plight of artisanal miners worldwide? What do you expect your retailer to ask of his or her suppliers? …and down the line.

Honesty is appreciated. This is a discussion about Fair Trade, but many may not have an interest in this topic at all. Whether you care about these issues or not, I’d like to hear your reasons why. We all love our gems and jewels, but there is a way to procure them that hurts as few people as possible. So, please have a seat and discuss. Thanks!
 

sphenequeen

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I know I have made my point very clear in terms of what I feel are some of the problems that will a Fair Trade movement will face. Again, while I think that the nature of the idea is well intended, there will be many bumps along the way. Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction and I applaud those who are on the forefront of this movement.

With that said, as you asked, here are what I feel are some solutions I would like to see come from the Fair Trade movement:

-Educating the consumer regarding what they are buying and letting them know about the environmental and human costs associated with their purchases. These are issues that were not originally brought to the forefront by those in the jewelry industry but rather by environmentalists, indigenous and local groups most effected by mining, and people working closely with those groups trying to help them achieve a better way of life. The movement has now spread and the industry has caught on, but it has been a long road.

-Making the retailer accountable for their wares.

This is what I would like to see from my retailer:
-Stocking designers that are involved in these various movements, be it artisanal mining (Pippa Small) to saving the coral reefs (Temple St. Clair). There are a myriad of other designers and companies that have pledged against Dirty Gold as unethical mining practices. I think these are the businesses that should be patronized.


I see this movement becoming very big in terms of what the consumer will want and that is the bottom line for businesses. Of course, there will always be a market for an unethically acquired stone, but you can really sense that people want change and the way they spend their dollar is really going to be the most effective way to bring that about.




 

ksinger

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Hi Coati. Interesting discussion. Alas, I am not as informed on Fair Trade as I need to be. Of course that could be said for quite a few topics, sadly.


However, threads here a while back, and a show on gold, precipitated subsequent discussions with the DH, about "clean" gold. I think that from a practical and consumer standpoint, the concept of "clean gold" is pretty much marketing hype. When I buy a free trade scarf purportedly handwoven in Nepal(which I did recently), it is a bit easier to identify as a high-quality, handwoven woolen scarf the likes of which you don''t see at Macy''s. I feel pretty good that it is what it is labeled, although there is still an element of trust here. Not so with gold. The way gold is slapped together at the refiners - mined, scrap, etc, makes it impossible to REALLY know where that gold in my ring came from or how it was procured. I''m not sure how one gets from supporting a designer who has "pledged" or a retailer who supposedly holds his suppliers to a standard, to decent pay and working conditions on the far other end. I''m not saying we shouldn''t try, mind you, I''m merely saying I can''t actually connect the dots - at least on gold. It pays to remember that on gold at least, retail jewelry sales are a drop in the bucket of demand. I''m not sure that mitigating the attendent greed, power, and brutality that spring up around a substance with SO many uses and such a singular history of lust, is going to be effectively addressed with pressure from the far end of the chain of a proportionately tiny part of the market.


If we try to get TOO ethical with this, well, NONE of us would allow ourselves to have jewelry at all. All of us would spend all our time agonizing over how to research and really KNOW that our money was not being used to support unfair practices. And as jewelry maker/shop owner - When you''re in a business to make money (which IS business by definition) trumpeting the fact that the consumer will never really KNOW that his money isn''t ultimately going to support some ghastly human rights violation, is probably not going to work out for you. I don''t mind paying extra, but I want it to effect more than just allowing me to give myself a pat on the back for being so "aware". I feel better that this happens when I spend extra on fair trade coffee than on gold, quite frankly.


It is difficult enough to find a supply of gold/silver etc. - honestly, it''s not like there are gold shops on the corner for when I run out of stock - so I currently don''t have the luxury of "shopping" until I can find just the right refiner or stock fabrication facility that can give me assurances that the metals they sell me didn''t enslave someone.

I''m addressing the gold issue rather than the diamond one, because it strikes nearer to my heart. I just started my first formal jewelry fabrication class (yay!) and I would dearly love to work in gold, but dayum! The prices lately! In any case, I suspect that worldwide jewelry sales are not driving these prices, but rather large purchases by governments, etc.
 

sphenequeen

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Date: 6/12/2010 6:55:45 AM
Author: ksinger

Hi Coati. Interesting discussion. Alas, I am not as informed on Fair Trade as I need to be. Of course that could be said for quite a few topics, sadly.



However, threads here a while back, and a show on gold, precipitated subsequent discussions with the DH, about ''clean'' gold. I think that from a practical and consumer standpoint, the concept of ''clean gold'' is pretty much marketing hype. When I buy a free trade scarf purportedly handwoven in Nepal(which I did recently), it is a bit easier to identify as a high-quality, handwoven woolen scarf the likes of which you don''t see at Macy''s. I feel pretty good that it is what it is labeled, although there is still an element of trust here. Not so with gold. The way gold is slapped together at the refiners - mined, scrap, etc, makes it impossible to REALLY know where that gold in my ring came from or how it was procured. I''m not sure how one gets from supporting a designer who has ''pledged'' or a retailer who supposedly holds his suppliers to a standard, to decent pay and working conditions on the far other end. I''m not saying we shouldn''t try, mind you, I''m merely saying I can''t actually connect the dots - at least on gold. It pays to remember that on gold at least, retail jewelry sales are a drop in the bucket of demand. I''m not sure that mitigating the attendent greed, power, and brutality that spring up around a substance with SO many uses and such a singular history of lust, is going to be effectively addressed with pressure from the far end of the chain of a proportionately tiny part of the market.



If we try to get TOO ethical with this, well, NONE of us would allow ourselves to have jewelry at all. All of us would spend all our time agonizing over how to research and really KNOW that our money was not being used to support unfair practices. And as jewelry maker/shop owner - When you''re in a business to make money (which IS business by definition) trumpeting the fact that the consumer will never really KNOW that his money isn''t ultimately going to support some ghastly human rights violation, is probably not going to work out for you. I don''t mind paying extra, but I want it to effect more than just allowing me to give myself a pat on the back for being so ''aware''. I feel better that this happens when I spend extra on fair trade coffee than on gold, quite frankly.



It is difficult enough to find a supply of gold/silver etc. - honestly, it''s not like there are gold shops on the corner for when I run out of stock - so I currently don''t have the luxury of ''shopping'' until I can find just the right refiner or stock fabrication facility that can give me assurances that the metals they sell me didn''t enslave someone.


I''m addressing the gold issue rather than the diamond one, because it strikes nearer to my heart. I just started my first formal jewelry fabrication class (yay!) and I would dearly love to work in gold, but dayum! The prices lately! In any case, I suspect that worldwide jewelry sales are not driving these prices, but rather large purchases by governments, etc.


ksinger,

I feel like a lot of what you said is the logic that many people use to justify their conspicuous consumption.

This movement, and others like it, are about demanding accountability for human rights and better living conditions for those who produce the products we consume.

Like Fair Trade coffee and other commodities, these types of trade "agreements" (although as Coati has pointed out this is not an agreement in the traditional sense) have to be enforced, and not merely "complied" with. There is a difference.

From a consumer''s perspective, if we have the opportunity to choose whether or not our dollar is fact being spent ethically, why wouldn''t we.

Please see www.nodirtygold.org
 

ksinger

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Date: 6/12/2010 12:06:27 PM
Author: sphenequeen

Date: 6/12/2010 6:55:45 AM
Author: ksinger

Hi Coati. Interesting discussion. Alas, I am not as informed on Fair Trade as I need to be. Of course that could be said for quite a few topics, sadly.




However, threads here a while back, and a show on gold, precipitated subsequent discussions with the DH, about ''clean'' gold. I think that from a practical and consumer standpoint, the concept of ''clean gold'' is pretty much marketing hype. When I buy a free trade scarf purportedly handwoven in Nepal(which I did recently), it is a bit easier to identify as a high-quality, handwoven woolen scarf the likes of which you don''t see at Macy''s. I feel pretty good that it is what it is labeled, although there is still an element of trust here. Not so with gold. The way gold is slapped together at the refiners - mined, scrap, etc, makes it impossible to REALLY know where that gold in my ring came from or how it was procured. I''m not sure how one gets from supporting a designer who has ''pledged'' or a retailer who supposedly holds his suppliers to a standard, to decent pay and working conditions on the far other end. I''m not saying we shouldn''t try, mind you, I''m merely saying I can''t actually connect the dots - at least on gold. It pays to remember that on gold at least, retail jewelry sales are a drop in the bucket of demand. I''m not sure that mitigating the attendent greed, power, and brutality that spring up around a substance with SO many uses and such a singular history of lust, is going to be effectively addressed with pressure from the far end of the chain of a proportionately tiny part of the market.




If we try to get TOO ethical with this, well, NONE of us would allow ourselves to have jewelry at all. All of us would spend all our time agonizing over how to research and really KNOW that our money was not being used to support unfair practices. And as jewelry maker/shop owner - When you''re in a business to make money (which IS business by definition) trumpeting the fact that the consumer will never really KNOW that his money isn''t ultimately going to support some ghastly human rights violation, is probably not going to work out for you. I don''t mind paying extra, but I want it to effect more than just allowing me to give myself a pat on the back for being so ''aware''. I feel better that this happens when I spend extra on fair trade coffee than on gold, quite frankly.




It is difficult enough to find a supply of gold/silver etc. - honestly, it''s not like there are gold shops on the corner for when I run out of stock - so I currently don''t have the luxury of ''shopping'' until I can find just the right refiner or stock fabrication facility that can give me assurances that the metals they sell me didn''t enslave someone.


I''m addressing the gold issue rather than the diamond one, because it strikes nearer to my heart. I just started my first formal jewelry fabrication class (yay!) and I would dearly love to work in gold, but dayum! The prices lately! In any case, I suspect that worldwide jewelry sales are not driving these prices, but rather large purchases by governments, etc.


ksinger,

I feel like a lot of what you said is the logic that many people use to justify their conspicuous consumption.

This movement, and others like it, are about demanding accountability for human rights and better living conditions for those who produce the products we consume.

Like Fair Trade coffee and other commodities, these types of trade ''agreements'' (although as Coati has pointed out this is not an agreement in the traditional sense) have to be enforced, and not merely ''complied'' with. There is a difference.

From a consumer''s perspective, if we have the opportunity to choose whether or not our dollar is fact being spent ethically, why wouldn''t we.

Please see www.nodirtygold.org

And trying to get a wam fuzzy from buying supposedly "clean" commodities could be no less a justification for conspicuous consumption. If everything I buy is "clean" then I can have as much as I want or can afford and feel good about it right? BP and the recent (silly) calls to boycott come to mind. How pray, is one to boycott BP without eschewing all oil and oil derivative products? It''s not like I can tell which percentage of the gallons I put in my car today came from BP. When I give to a charity, I like to KNOW that that charity really does what it says, that the money isn''t siphoned off and never gets to the people it purports to help. I understand that this is movement in its infancy, but I question the ultimate effectiveness without, as you say, some real "enforcement" and that is a different topic altogether. The societal problems that lead to forced labor, or child labor, or desperate individual "artisanal" gold miners polluting streams, not to mention the governments that condone or turn a blind eye to those practices, don''t seem like they are going to be all that responsive to a market solution, IMO.


In any case, using the phrase conspicuous consumption on a site where the average diamond size is ridiculously higher (what was it? about 1.6 carats?) than the US national average is pretty gutsy, and my first inclination was to take it personally, although I really don''t think you meant it that way. My observation about those I consider conspicuous consumers, is that they''ve not lost sleep over their consumption at all and are hardly looking for "justification". The ones who generally worry the most, are the ones who actually HAVE the least. If I am truly THAT worried right now and not just someday, about the ethicality of how my jewelry dollars are spent, then perhaps I should really truly put my money where my mouth is and eschew diamonds and jewelry completely and just do my part to reduce the actual demand, not just try to redirect it. I mean unlike oil, it is not something I actually must use in order to simply survive in this culture (transportation to jobs, etc). I could simply NOT consume diamonds or gold jewelry, and STILL fight for social justice. The ultimate warm fuzzy.


My question is this, IF every jeweler in the US, Canada and Europe were to all just stop tomorrow, purchasing newly mined gold (from a supply chain that is admittedly extremely opaque, by the documents at your site) and only use recycled existing gold, do you think the drop in demand would be such that it would make an ultimate difference in the working conditions of gold industry workers? Or will there be someone less concerned with ethics right there in line to pick up the slack?


And I find I was wrong about the governments driving demand, or at least it seems so - gold is a very volatile commodity, an "emotional" one after all. Apparently, the increasing population of India is driving much of the jewelry-use demand, which seems to be an cultural given there and apparently not all that amenable to modification.

 

arjunajane

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Date: 6/10/2010 6:12:17 PM
Author: sphenequeen
I also think that the issue of Fair Trade does not extend far enough to reach local communities that are the most effected by mining operations. While I agree with what Coati said about how more environmental regulations will mean better lives for local people, in my opinion, Fair Trade will not have enough of an impact on those not engaged in the mining process but directly effected by the runoff from the mines (i.e the people of Cajamarca, Peru).


As Karl_K pointed out, there have been uprisings in many countries due to mining operations infringing on the rights and lands of local and indigenous populations. The outcome has been not in the favor of ''the big bad multi-national mine,'' but rather in favor of the people who are fighting for a better way of life. If Fair Trade is to work, the local voices and their unique demands need to be heard.

Date: 6/11/2010 1:08:20 AM
Author: sphenequeen
Having said all of that I do feel very passionately about a more ''Bottoms-Up'' approach with regards to decision making when it comes to artisanal miners, locals, and indigenous communities. I just do not know if a trade agreement will wipe the slate clean. I think the work will happen on the ground, talking to the miners, locals, and indigenous populations, hearing their needs, and trying to come to a compromise because this industry is not going anywhere.

With regards to this discussion, I do not feel informed enough to offer an actual solution.

However, I would like to echo some of Sphene''s comments such as above, especially about "from the ground up" approaches with regards to mining negotiations with indigenous communities and traditional land owners.
This is also something I have a keen interest and passion toward, and I feel that the move toward actually creating infrastructure and community development initiatives that meet the real needs of the local people - as expressed by the people themselves and not assumed by the mining Co''s or governments - is a very good step in the right direction.

With regards to the proposed Fair Trade principles listed in Coati''s first post, I do see some of these same aims and issues reflected.
Therefore, I also see this as a step in the right direction, but of course proper implementation, ongoing accountability and direct collaboration with the affected communities will be only some of the key concerns.
 

ksinger

Ideal_Rock
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Well, this article pretty much hammers home why I don''t think a North American initiated consumer/end retailer initiated pledge campaign to only use ethically sourced...whatever, be it diamonds, gold, silver, etc - is going to have much effect on the situations of people on the ground. It''s laudable, but our economy is not the big-stick powerhouse it once was, and the situation in Afghanistan now will have the potential to be even more contentious than ever. China has already cast a lustful eye and the bribes have begun. Does anyone think that China - a country that puts lead in toys, or Afghani warlords or the Taliban - are going to care one iota for people or the environment with 1 trillion in mineral wealth staring them in the eye?

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan
 
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