Fairtrade Fortnight

This week I’ve been starting my preparations for Fairtrade Fortnight, an international event celebrated at a community level. I’m going to Melbourne to take part in the Mothers Day High-Tea alongside some fantastically inspiring women, to help raise money for the homeless charity Youth Projects.

I’ll be there with: Jennifer Evans (Winner of 2012 My Kitchen Rules), Noelene Marchwicki (Master Chef 2013), Kirra Fitzgerald (Psychologist, Youth Projects) and Melanie Raymond (Chair of Youth Projects). Melanie was named one of Australia’s Top 100 Most Influential Women in the Westpac & Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards 2012.
And excitingly I’ll be hosting the Fairtrade Fortnight fashion show!

After seeing the fantastic work that Youth Projects does I have decided to donate 10% of all proceeds from my May sales to the charity.

As well as all of that I will be launching a new Fair Trade Gold range at the event called ‘Shine’ which I can’t wait to share with everyone.

This event is a great opportunity to help raise the profile of Fair Trade as a whole and to explain the importance of clarity in our supply chains and fairness in all aspects of our businesses from the grower and miner all the way through to the end customer. Take a look at the UK Fairtrade website for a great example.

Why I do what I do.

Many people ask me how I came to be a jeweller and what I enjoy about the job. I guess one of the most enjoyable parts of my job is the satisfaction of seeing a finished piece of jewellery all shiny and sparkly on my workbench.  From a drawing in my sketchbook to a finished piece of jewellery on my bench is a frustrating, fascinating, challenging and ultimately satisfying experience!


The other side of my job that I really enjoy is the interaction with my clients.  I am involved in a beautiful time in people’s lives and one in which people place a great deal of trust in me.  These are important rings – possibly heirlooms – but certainly deeply symbolic tokens of love. 

It was this beautiful meaning behind engagement and wedding rings that made me uncomfortable holding back information about where the diamonds and gold that made those rings came from.  It gives me a great amount of satisfaction to be able to tell my clients that they gold in their rings is not dirty and that the story behind their diamonds and gems is not mired in violence.

How did I come to be a jeweller?  Well, it started in London with a very encouraging tutor who pushed me to change course to jewellery and goldsmithing. (Good idea..)   It was then 2 amazing jewellers, Esther Eyre and Ben Day who taught me all I needed to know about being a jeweller in the real world (outside the university walls…).  Then it was Greg Valerio who inspired me to be an ethical jeweller.  And here I am, still learning and growing. That’s the other nice thing about this job.. each ring I make gives me something new to figure out!


FAIRtrade: Fair for the consumer, the jeweller and the miner.

Is Fairtrade Gold more expensive than ‘normal’ gold?
This is a question I am often asked. The simple answer is no.

The Fairtrade minimum price for pure gold is set at 95% of the usual London Bullion Market Association’s fixing for gold. A much fairer price than the oft accepted 70% that artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) are used to.

Fairtrade Gold assures those miners they will be paid a fair price for their work, that they work in safe conditions, there is gender equality in those mines, that environmental standards are kept and there is no child labour.

Perhaps you could even go so far as to say that non-fairtrade gold is in fact more ‘expensive’ than Fairtrade Gold in terms of overall quality of life for those who work to mine and produce the gold. The terrible poverty and awful conditions some ASM miners live in is unacceptable. They are underpaid for their gold and live and work in unsafe conditions due to the chemicals used in the gold extraction process.

For every piece of Fairtrade Gold Jewellery purchased communities and miners benefit.
The Fairtrade Gold certification strives to create a better deal for everyone involved.

Sotrami mine in Peru is an excellent example of this.
They have gone from strength to strength since their Fairtrade certification and have even recently bought computers for their village school and are developing a non-profit grocery and supply store.

For more info take a look at http://www.fairgold.org/

Carats, Colour, Clarity, Cut and… Conflict

Most people consider the four Cs when looking for a diamond, but if we really want to be ethical consumers then there are five.

Carat – A measure of the diamond’s weight, based on an ancient system where gems were measured according to the weight of a carob seed. One carat is now considered one fifth of a gram. It can also be divided into 100 ‘points.’ A half carat diamond is the same as a 50 point or a 0.50 carat diamond.

Colour – Did you know that diamonds come in many different colours? And although most people opt for the ‘colourless’ or ‘yellow’ diamond they are sometimes: cognac, champagne, yellow, white, black, blue, green, pink and even red. The world’s largest diamond ever found, was actually green – The Dresden Green.

Clarity –  This is about the ‘inclusions’ in a diamond. The mineral, fractures and ‘birthmarks’ that make each diamond unique. The fewer inclusions – the greater the clarity.

Cut – This is essentially the process, which turns a ‘rough’ diamond in its natural mined state, into the well-aligned diamonds we are used to seeing in pieces of jewellery.

Conflict – the fifth C
How many people stop to think about whether the sale of the diamond they are buying has been exchanged for weapons or sold to make money for rebel fighters? Or perhaps the diamond comes at the cost of environmental degradation or workers rights.

The 2003 Kimberley process and certification attempts to address this issue, but unless you know your supply chain from start to finish, how can you be sure? As recently as 2011, the BBC discovered that there were torture camps for diamond miners in Zimbabwe.

The diamonds I use come from Origin Australia and the Argyle diamond mine, I’m very happy to know that it is one of the most responsible gem mines in the world today, thanks to Argyle Diamond’s environmental management system and its accountability to the Australian Government.

So far there is no such thing as a Fair Trade Diamond, but with the recent launch of Fairtrade Gold in Australia I’m hoping that one day Zoe Pook Jewellery will be able to offer Fair Trade Diamonds as well as Gold. Watch this space!

Fairtrade Gold. Why?

Which pieces of jewellery are you wearing today? Take a moment to look…
Do you know where they came from or how they were made? That beautiful gold ring, was it mined using child labour? In a place where toxic chemicals used for extraction seep into the waterways, causing health issues for the locals? Or was it mined in a safe environment where workers are paid a good wage and have access to schools and healthcare?

A piece of jewellery is an important investment, it’s something most people take time to think about, the piece could become a family heirloom or something you cherish for the rest of your life.
Why then in this thought process is so little time given to considering how this beautiful piece came about?
I’m passionate about the story behind the jewellery and love the fact that with Fairtrade Gold I know that all of my gold has come from mines with safe working conditions, no child labour and responsible use of chemicals.

The community in Peru where my Fairtrade Gold comes from was able to invest in healthcare, build an extension to the primary school and buy computers for their senior school, all in its first year of certification.
Then, they also opened a not-for-profit convenience store, which means the 500-strong community can buy food at reasonable prices!
More and more emphasis is now being placed on working conditions, especially after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh last year.
Every purchase we make has environmental and social impacts. Greg Valerio, UK Fairtrade jewellery activist explained: “The Fairtrade Gold standard has now created a verifiable and trusted way for the consumer to know that the source of their gold comes from a legitimate, democratic, transparent and socially responsible source.”
What better way to start the story of your family heirloom?

Check out Greg Valerio’s blog and My Fairtrade Gold Collection

Sharing the love…

Valentine’s, the perfect day to propose or a cheesy cliché? According to statistics around 6 million Americans got engaged on Valentines last year and the number keeps rising.

However skeptical you may be about Valentine’s Day it’s always special to give or receive gifts/words/sentiments of love. Walking past a shop recently I noticed their gaudy display, all red balloons, cards and plastic and it triggered a thought about the strong links between Valentine’s and Fairtrade.

If you are going to give a gift then even better it was made with love, created from sustainable sources in happy environments that helps to better others lives.

Valentine’s Day is in fact a celebration of St Valentine who helped others achieve their dreams of marriage and everlasting love.

Perhaps this Valentine’s Day we could hold this in mind when looking for gifts for our loved ones and buy products that have been made ethically and will benefit the communities they are made in. Something that is always at the forefront of my mind when I am sourcing gems and gold for my jewellery.

I’ve teamed up with Instant Karma Roses and Lindsay and Edmunds Organic Chocolate this Valentine’s Day to support a Fairtrade Valentine’s so take a look at their lovely offerings.

And for any of you that are thinking of proposing do drop me a line and we can talk about Fairtrade ethical engagement and wedding rings.

Fairtrade Certified Gold… an Australian first!

For those of you who haven’t heard – after much hard work from Fairtrade (and some from myself too..!) we have brought Fairtrade Certified Gold to Australia. This is a hugely exciting time for me as this is something I have been working towards for most of my jewellery career. Fairtrade Gold has been available in the UK and Europe for a couple of years now thanks to Greg Valerio mainly – and now I can offer the Australian market the same ethics in their luxury jewellery. All the rings in the Fairtrade Gold Collection are available in 18ct white, yellow or rose gold and all gems are ethically sourced from a variety of mines globally.

It’s been almost a month now since the launch and the reaction has been amazing. For more information on what Fairtrade Certified Gold means to the people who mine it and to the people who buy it check out these links and if you’d like to own a piece of ethical jewellery all of your very own – just drop me an email and tell me what you’d like : )


Ethical engagement ring

18ct Fairtrade white gold solitare ring with a beautiful and ethical Australian diamond

Simple is beautiful

I recently had a client ask for a simple solitare diamond engagement ring using an asscher cut diamond.  Simple is beautiful, and often when you look, simple is considered and balanced and actually quite detailed.

An asscher cut diamond is quite a thing of beauty and I encourage anyone who wants a square cut diamond to go for an Asscher. If you want to see detail in a simple design look at the cuts on this particular type of diamond.

My client was concerned that the design she wanted would be a little too classic and simple for a bespoke ring. No, no! I said. Bespoke does not mean ornate or bohemian, it simply means that you can choose just what you want.  She wanted a simple but beautiful, 1ct asscher cut diamond solitare.  We talked about exactly the type of setting she wanted and the width of the band that would suit her fingers.  So rather than getting almost what she wanted from a pre manufactured ring, she got just what she wanted with ring made just for her.  See more pictures of the ring in the gallery.


Where the gold is green, and so are the profits.

A great piece on the origin and mining of Oro Verde gold, which is used in many of my pieces. This is my favourite part:

When my father and grandfather were doing this nobody thought it was special,” Americo said. On the contrary, they were seen as sentimental throwbacks who refused to modernize. “But now, for the first time, people really recognize what we do.”
I could bring a backhoe in here and I might even find more gold,” said Waldino, 46, as he swished murky water around in his panning bowl. “But I’d kill the land, and then where would I go? What would I leave for my children?”

If only most of the world’s politicians had such long term vision….



The making of a ring..

I had a couple of clients recently who wanted me to make their engagement ring using the existing gold and gems in a family heirloom ring.  This is a great way to recycle and to add sentimentality and meaning to your wedding or engagement ring.  The husband-to-be also also asked me to make a picture diary of how the ring was made as a surprise for his girlfriend and a way to be more involved in the process.  I thought it’d be interesting to share the story of how the ring was made, from initial deconstruction to finished remodelling and final ‘new’ engagement ring.

Follow this link and you can see the picture diary.


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