Respect The Beautiful is not only a collection that we created but also much more: our vision, our mind-set, and our persuasion. Not all that glitters is gold. Especially the business with gold is often, unfortunately, an unclear and dirty matter. We want to raise awareness about the issues miners are facing. But we also want to show the changes we are achieving - with your help! - to create a better working environment for gold miners.
Because even if there are still many issues that need to be solved, we should also focus on the things that have changed to the positive and create even more change.
It’s all about fairness, humanity, and acknowledgment. To source gold from so-called “small-scale mining” is hard labour for the person involved and it’s also a huge burden for Mother Nature and the environment. Aside from the land grab and the localisation of more gold, for which many forests get destroyed, the usage of mercury is one of the most dangerous impacts. Mercury is the most dangerous non-radioactive metal, which we know of – it harms the environment, the groundwater and of course the people who touch it.
Apart from the re-formation of neurons, it leads to many illnesses, and we continue to learn just how dangerous mercury actually is. Since the workers are mostly not educated and do not know about the dangers and simply don’t have the possibility to create a safe working environment, they are often in direct contact with the mercury. It’s a dangerous game with those who hope for a better life and success with the mining of gold, but in the end, the middlemen are those who take their profit home.
There is no infrastructure, no schools, no medical care – and child labour is also a major problem. Those who work hard for the mining of the gold, who risk their health, are those who, in the end, do not get any acknowledgment for their work. Many do not even know about their existence. Something has to change. Not an easy attempt, but a NECESSARY one.
„I realize over and over how shocked people are when they get informed about the true origin of gold,“ says VIERI founder Guya. When it comes to clothing and food, people nowadays know about the bad facts, „but when it comes to luxury goods such as gold, no one assumes something as bad.“
It is still a long way to go, but in 2012 we started to create collections only made of ethically mined gold. Now, all our products are produced in 18k ethically sourced or recycled gold with carefully selected materials.
But what is ethically correct gold? Big organizations such as fairtrade or the alliance for responsible mining have set up programmes and directives for the mines to change their production into an ethical and fair production. Among other things, they include the more conscious handling of mercury, better education for mine workers, and safe working conditions and a bonus when the gold is sold. The mining communities are asked to invest this bonus into new educational, health or infrastructure projects.
We believe that this is a good thing. Besides VIERI's commitment to producing all collections only of recycled gold or fair gold from the mine Sotrami in Peru, VIERI does much more. 10% of the selling price of the Respect The Beautiful collection go to the „heartbeat Uganda“ project of the Earthbeat Foundation: This supports not only a holistic handling of the gold resources but also the social development of the 25 million people who mine gold every day.
The Earthbeat Foundation was founded by Guya in 2012 and raises the issue of the rights and the fair treatment of the mineworkers as well as their wellbeing. Furthermore, the education, creating a link in the supply chain and a special focus on „empowerment“ of the people in the communities is part of the work of the foundation. Through social businesses and education in agriculture and unique crafts alternatives to mining are developed. „We are creating structures with the people in Uganda to form social businesses for them to live a self-determined life and to get out of poverty. With the earthbeat foundation we work closely with the people to really understand their needs and where they need support“ explains Guya Merkle.
Our goal is it to create products not only in a responsible manner but also to change the mindset of the consumer and the conditions for the workers. With a piece of the Respect The Beautiful collection you not only have a beautiful piece of jewellery, but you are also part of the vision to make luxury a real luxury.
VIERI - Responsible Fine Jewellery