I’ve written about Fairtrade gold, Fairtrade silver and ethical gems before. Fairtrade-certified gold is fairly new with the first pieces launched for Valentine’s Day 2011. Gold might look glitzy but mining for it is a dirty and dangerous process with complex, sometimes corrupt, supply chains. For this reason, more and more designers are swapping to Fairtrade gold to make jewellery that’s more beautiful in every sense. Arabel Lebrusan is one such designer. She creates absolutely stunning pieces, specialising in ethical engagement and wedding rings as well as bespoke projects.
People involved in mining gems and metals don’t generally get as much press as the banana or cotton growers, but serious problems exist in these industries. With the world market price of gold soaring, fair treatment of the miners is a particular concern as hundreds of thousands of workers are lured to the industry. Ninety per cent of the labour force involved in gold mining is made up of artisanal and small-scale miners who produce between 200-300 tonnes of gold each year. An estimated 15 million people work in such small scale mining, risking disease, serious injury and even death. Six times as many accidents occur in small scale mining as occur in larger mines.
Arabel Lebrusan was one of the very first designers to source certified Fairtrade gold.In addition, jewellery is produced using only sustainable gold, silver, platinum and other metals. This means that the precious material is mined without causing damage to our planet or life; in contrast to open pit gold mining in many developing countries where cyanide is used to blast the rock and which later runs into the water, poisoning marine life. Ethical jewellery is no more expensive than what you’d find in a decent high street jeweller. They don’t cost the earth, in every sense.
Arabel holds a Masters in Jewellery Design from the acclaimed Central Saint Martins and a Bachelors degree in Fine Art from the University of Madrid, in addition to being a trained gemmologist. She was previously Creative Director of Leblas Jewellery, the first Ethical Jewellery Boutique in the famous Sloane Street, and has worked under her own name since 2013. She has a unique style, incorporating delicate filigree and using recycled silver with black rodhium plating to create bold black pieces alongside yellow and rose gold, and silver.