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Gold standard

Surrey jeweller Jon Dibben was among the first in the UK licensed to use Fairtrade gold - and he's holding an exhibit of his designs.

A Jon Dibben 18ct Fairtrade red gold rhodalite Meadow ring

When you buy jewellery do you think about where it comes from? Beyond the jewellery shop, I mean.

I’ll admit, it’s not something I’d given a lot of thought to until quite recently – which is pretty shameful really.

Like many women, I’ve accumulated plenty of jewellery over the years – nothing of immense value, but I’ve got my fair share of rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. And it’s only now – because the next two weeks are Fairtrade Fortnight – that I am thinking about the origin of the precious metals that have gone into making these pieces.

Sadly, unlike the sparkling end products, it ain’t pretty. Many of the 16 million small-scale gold miners are working in treacherous conditions, they’re exposed to dangerous chemicals such as mercury, and because of their poverty, they’re exploited by the middle men.

But thanks to the introduction of Fairtrade Gold, these miners are being given the chance to work their way out of poverty. Unlike diamonds, which have been on the ethical trading agenda for a long time, Fairtrade Gold is relatively recent, having been introduced in the UK in only 2011.

Surrey designer, and Muddy award winner, Jon Dibben was among the the first 20 designers in the UK licensed to use Fairtrade Gold and his very first Fairtrade design – an 18ct white gold ring with Nigerian sea-green tourmalines – has been recognised by the British Jewellers’ Association as a landmark design.

Jon Dibben’s first Fairtrade gold design – an 18ct white gold spray ring with Nigerian sea-green tourmalines

Having long been inspired by the world around him, it’s no surprise that Jon is among the trail-blazers n the world of jewellery design when it comes to sustainability and accountability. And since that first chunk of Fairtrade Gold arrived at his Cranleigh studio in 2011, Jon has made a commitment that all gold used in his work will be only 18ct Fairtrade.

These days, Fairtrade Gold is coming through from Africa as well as the original South American countries. It’s good to know things are changing – and I for one will look for Fairtrade Gold whenever I’m buying jewellery from now on.

Jon Dibben Fairtrade gold floral earrings


To celebrate the work of the Fairtrade Foundation, Jon Dibben Jewellery is holding an exhibition of Jon’s Fairtrade Gold designs at their shop and workshop from Mon 26 Feb until Sun 11 March. The exhibition will include Jon’s debut Fairtrade Gold ring, which is on loan from the owner.

The exhibition is open Tues to Fri from 10am-5pm, 40a Smithbrook Kilns, Cranleigh.


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