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17 May 2013 | Andy Allen
CRED managing director Alan Frampton said the company had made strenuous efforts towards creating an ethical supply chain in a highly secretive industry. Frampton, who bought the company two years ago, previously worked supplying fresh goods to large supermarket chains and was shocked to find that “the jewellery business is about 30 per cent behind the fresh produce business in its traceability and transparency”.
“If you were to take fresh roses in a supermarket you can find out not only which farm they come from, but what the education of the indigenous people is as a result of the farm, their healthcare and the environmental benefits that farm brings,” he told SM.
By contrast the main gold suppliers, banks or bullion firms, are unable to provide buyers with any comparable information.
CRED has so far concentrated its supply chain efforts on gold, which is supplied by five mines in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. Each is accredited by Fairtrade labelling organisation FLO Cert and visited by CRED staff.
In December 2012, CRED started selling Fairtrade and Fairmined-certified silver to the UK and believes it was the first company to do so. Previously it sold recycled silver sourced in the UK.
The Fairtrade and Fairmined-certified silver is from an artisanal mine located in the Andes. According to Frampton, sourcing Fairtrade silver is considerably more challenging than sourcing gold as the former currently sells for about 50 times less. As a result there is less of a margin to absorb the cost of supply chain policing.
“Although the interest in mining ethical silver has not been as great as the attention on attaining Fairtrade gold and diamond standards, it is on the increase and we have seen demand from our customers increase and hope that the availability will increase as ethical standards across the mining industry improve. The majority of our gold comes from small-scale miners at the Sotrami mine at San Filomena in Peru,” the company said.
CRED said it is also working with the Alliance for Responsible Mining and other international partners, to enable the company to sell a certified ‘Fairtrade diamond’. Currently no such standard exists for diamonds.