Q&A with Alan Frampton, Director of Cred Jewellery
Q: What makes you stand out?
A: Cred were the first, and are still at the forefront of sourcing precious metals responsibly. Back in 1996 we started working towards creating a transparent supply of gold, along with the mine in South America, with ethical working standards that eventually became the basis for the Fairtrade Gold standards. We are one of the only jewellers who have the personal relationship with the miners. We speak to them every week and visit frequently. We want to know how we can help them, improve their business and the lives of their community. We won’t sell anything that we can’t tell you the whole story about. We refuse to compromise, so all our own rings & jewellery are made with either Fairtrade gold, Fairtrade silver or 100% recycled platinum – there is no fair trade accreditation for platinum so we source 100% recycled platinum as we think this is the next best option.
Q: Why do you care?
A: Much of what goes on in the jewellery industry is a closely guarded secret. And that is worrying. Over 15 million people in the world rely on small-scale mining and an estimated 100 million families depend on these miners’ incomes.. But they see a very small amount of the money. Continually there are reports being released of harrowing conditions of workers, and huge devastation to the environment. The only way to know that you haven’t contributed to that is to make sure you know where your gold comes from. The mines we are currently working with in Africa have come a long way. They were previously working in unsafe conditions, using mercury with their bare hands, and selling gold to local markets for 65% of it’s value. Selling through Cred they will receive at least 95% of the gold’s value, plus US $2 per gram to put directly towards developing their community. Soon they will be able to afford piped fresh water to their village.
Q: Is being responsible good for business?
A: Not on its own; you have to create products that are good quality and well designed, and offer a good choice at great prices. But more and more people are asking questions about where their purchases come from, and only those with answers will benefit. The more time Cred has been in business, the more we have other companies approach us to ask how they can follow suit. We hope to inspire the jewellery industry to take a good look at how they do business.
Q: Has the business changed you?
A: Cred was created with the purpose of creating traceable beautiful jewellery, and to encourage others to do the same. So we haven’t just changed our CSR policy in response to consumer demand. We drove it. I love what I do and care passionately about the miners who supply us.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The people. From the customers to the miners, we know that we are only doing a good thing, and it is making people’s lives better. Couples buying their wedding rings feel so happy that they are able to celebrate their wedding with a true symbol of love (Gosh, that sounds cheesy!) On a difficult day in the office, just remembering the core reason behind Cred makes it worthwhile.
Q: Plans for the future?
A: Seeing the progress made by Cred, despite huge opposition by the jewellery industry, shows how important it is to have a goal. First it was to simply get a traceable source of gold (Ha! I say simply, but it took 6 years…) Then to get it 3rd party accredited – eg as a Fairtrade standard. We don’t sit still, or accept that we have done it. There are always miners who can benefit from being under the Fairtrade standard, and there are always new markets. In the UK only 3% of people have heard of Fairtrade gold. So we have our work cut out to raise awareness here first.