A jewel’s true beauty is indicated not by aesthetic standards alone, but also by its ethical quality.
In recent years, the demand for gold has risen dramatically in line with higher prices. This development has attracted more and more people into the labor-intensive, small-scale mining industry. The miners work under conditions that are frequently hazardous or potentially lethal, often in countries that are politically and economically unstable. They are exposed to dangerous levels of the highly toxic mercury and cyanide used in gold extraction, but despite major efforts to reduce pollution, very little has been done to protect people and the environment. The damage to health caused by exposure is severe, but few miners are aware of the risks.
An estimated 20 million people worldwide are engaged in the small- scale mining industry, which accounts for a quarter of the demand from gold jewelry manufacturers. The remaining three-quarters is supplied by large-scale mining operations that mainly use industrial machinery. Approximately 100 million people depend on small-scale mining for their livelihood, and in many countries child labor is common.
In recent years, there have been a number of initiatives to form networks and organize campaigns that have paved the way to more responsible gold mining. The movement is still in its beginning and the gold supply chain is long and complicated. At this moment, there is no globally recognized certification system to guarantee that the jewelry customers buy an ethically and sustainably product. VIERI obtains its gold from the certified gold mine SOTRAMI in Peru, which is exclusively sourcing in an ethical manner.
For VIERI this is a small contribution towards conscious manufacturing and an educated consumerism in the jewelry market. We made it our goal to do more and with the Respect the Beautiful collection we support the work of the earthbeat foundation, who is tirelessly working for people in small scale mining communities. For more information about the projects and the work of the earthbeat foundation visit www.earthbeatfoundation.org