Fairtrade campaigners have formed a human ring of gold on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral to highlight the plight of gold miners living in poverty across the globe.
The event, on Wednesday 14 January, was part of Fairtrade Foundation's new national 'I Do' campaign to encourage brides and grooms to buy Fairtrade gold rings ahead of Valentine's Day.
There are 15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners globally producing 10-15 % of the world's gold supplies, with many miners earning as little as $1 per day. The industry is rife with exploitation and daily contact with toxic chemicals used to process gold such as mercury, cyanide and nitric acid means workers risk disease, serious injury, premature births and even death.
Fairtrade is publishing an Industry Briefing to explain the complexities behind the gold mining industry and its new Standard for Gold & Precious Metals to help protect miners and their families against poverty and exploitation, revising the standard first introduced in 2011.
Amy Ross, Fairtrade Gold Project Manager, said, "Gold is such a beautiful product associated with romance, shine and history. By creating traceability and provenance through Fairtrade, that gold becomes extra special.We all share responsibility to the planet and to each other so our hope for the future is that, as well as asking what carat their ring is, people start to ask where it came from and who mined it.
"Unfortunately not enough people know about Fairtrade gold, which is why we are running the campaign. By choosing Fairtrade gold you can help create a better life for miners and their communities. Fairtrade gold supports miners to eliminate child labour, work their way out of the vicious circle of exploitation and poverty and reduce the harmful impacts of mercury. Fairtrade hopes to now engage with gold in the same way it has with tea, coffee and bananas," she added.
A recent survey found that only 16% of people said they are familiar with Fairtrade gold as opposed to 64% who are familiar with Fairtrade tea or coffee, yet over half, 56% of people think that buying Fairtrade products is the responsible thing to do. A further 31% thought that Fairtrade gold is more expensive than normal gold when this is not necessarily the case.
A total of 59 UK jewellers are already licensed to use the Fairtrade gold stamp on their pieces along with a further 102 goldsmiths who are registered to sell Fairtrade gold. The campaign aims to sell 100,000 wedding rings to 50,000 couples.