Our First Ethical Jewellery Symposium

It’s In Our Hands – The Future of Ethical Making in Scotland

 

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Greg Valerio, activist & jeweller, presenting the story of gold

 

In partnership with the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, the Incorporation of Goldsmiths held their first ethical jewellery symposium titled ‘It’s in our Hands – The Future of Ethical Making in Scotland’. The Symposium addressed key issues in the jewellery industry, why and how to adopt an ethical jewellery practice.

We learned how an ethical approach adds value to your product and makes for a more authentic story to tell your customers about where and how their jewellery was made. Speakers included Greg Valerio MBE, pioneering ethical jeweller and activist; Ute Decker, ethical jeweller and researcher; Karen Westland, jeweller and silversmith, regarding the broader history of precious metal sourcing and its environmental and socioeconomic impact, Dr Peter Oakley from the Royal College of Art introduced international case studies in the industry, while ethical consultant, Vivien Johnston, pointed to the transparent supply chain that the Scotgold mine in Tyndrum presents, and Marian Brown, co-founder of Ostrero, a circular economy social enterprise, presented the opportunities in Scotland for companies adopting a Circular Economy model. Tim Ingle from Ingle & Rhode, ethical jewellery brand, presented the business case for brands to turn to ethical jewellery making and the benefits of investing in this niche market as a maker. Mary Michel, Director of the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, finished off the presentations by discussing the components of the chain of custody and the importance of provenance in the jewellery supply chain.

The symposium was supported by a workshop on sustainable jewellery practices led by two proponents in ethical jewellery, Greg Valerio and Ute Decker. The workshop gave attendees practical advice on how to improve their practice including how and where to source responsibly mined metals and stones.

 

 

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Anticipation in the attendants waiting before the start of the symposium

 

The Ethical Making Resource

The buzz created by the topics covered resonated in our discussions with the designers. “How can I become an ethical jeweller? Where do I get the support to start off on that journey?” These recurring questions and the general lack of organised information around this topic for makers has led the Incorporation of Goldsmiths to build an online resource about ethical making. Acclaimed ethical jeweller, Ute Decker has fed her nine years of research into the Incorporation and since January 2017, the Incorporation has been building on this research and gathering practical information from makers and industry leaders. The aim is to bring together the fragmented information surrounding ethical making and present it in a clear and accessible way for jewellers and silversmiths looking for how they can develop an ethical practice. This information will soon form the Ethical Making Resource, a website for makers and consumers alike, looking for practical information on what ethical means and why it matters. We hope the community of makers will help with this growth by continuing to tell us about their experiences/challenges and about any information they feel should be included on the resource. Email ethical@incorporationofgoldsmiths.org for questions or comments and check our Twitter account for related news at @IncOfGoldsmiths.

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Mary Michel, the Director of the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, speaking on the chain of custody in the jewellery supply chain

 

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