As we mark Fashion Revolution Week, Diamonds & Daisychains talks all things botanical and of course, ethical, to natural skincare guru Liz Earle following the launch of her new Liz Earle Fair & Fine Botany Collection jewellery range.
What made you move into the jewellery market?
It was my increasing awareness that inspired me to take my own small step into the world of ethical jewellery. I collaborated with leading British jewellers Boodles to create a beautiful, ethically sourced, pink sapphire ‘Pelargonium’ flower necklace that raised funds for an orphanage near one of the gem-mining areas in India. Seeing for myself the real benefits of Fairtrade, I decided to work with UK jewellery brand Cred – who were pioneers of the payment of a miner’s premium – to design my first Fairtrade fine jewellery range. Having just returned from Kenya to see Fairtrade gold mining in action, I’m more convinced than ever that Fairtrade gold and silver is the right way forward to make a genuine difference – and the best way to avoid wearing the wages of war on your skin.
When we shop for luxury items such as fine jewellery, we tend to have a budget in mind, and the extra it might cost for a piece that’s ethically-sourced, ideally accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation, is really just a small part of what we pay. I think we’d all prefer to enjoy wearing our jewellery safe in the knowledge that we’re supporting the safety and livelihood of those who’ve helped make it and their families.
Is your range targeted at people who already have an interest in buying ethical/responsibly sourced goods?
Those who already have an interest in buying ethical goods set the highest store by Fairtrade accreditation, and each piece in the Fair and Fine Botany Collection has the Fairtrade gold hallmark stamp. But of course that’s just one, albeit very important, part of it. Many simply love the designs and that particular pieces can be adapted and worn in different ways, such as ‘stackable’ rings or stud earrings with optional leaf or crystal drops.
Do you think it’s important to consider where materials are sourced from when buying jewellery?
Absolutely. As consumers, our buying choices are increasingly informed by products’ ethical and environmental credentials, from our food (free-range eggs and dolphin-friendly tuna) to cruelty-free beauty products, and fashion. One area of the market that has been slower to address questions around its supply-chain is fine jewellery.
Whilst major mining consortiums are under increasing pressure to be transparent about their processes, a significant amount of the world’s gold comes from small-scale artisan mines. Many miners in these mines barely earn a living wage, whilst doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
Fairtrade Foundation mines pay a proper minimum wage, plus a premium which is spent on community projects. Working conditions are better too, with breaks, meals, basic healthcare and safety equipment provided. Plus, no children are allowed to work down the mines.
What message would you give to people who don’t consider where materials are sourced from?
The human cost of our goods can still be unacceptably high. Something given with the greatest love, and worn next to our skin most days of our lives, such as fine jewellery, may have taken a murky path to our door. But helped by organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation, awareness is growing. It is possible to practice consumerism with a conscience.
What was your inspiration for the designs?
I’ve always had a love for botanicals, whether using essential oils in skincare, or foraged ingredients in cooking, so creating a Botany Collection felt very natural. The collection features four of my favourite plants: Eucalyptus, Ivy, Wild Rose and Neroli designs.
The Liz Earle botany collection of ethical jewellery can be found and purchased through Cred.
Support Fashion Revolution Week which runs until April 30th, by considering where your fashion comes from and buying from responsible sources. #whomademyclothes