#KnowyourSource with Valerio Jewellery.
As a jeweller I have always been committed to transparency and traceability. Put simply #KnowYourSource. Under this tag my aim will be to open up to my customers the social and environmental legacy that my jewellery is having on the communities from whence it came.
Fair Trade or CSR? The luxury jewellery choice.
Since the blood diamond scandals of the late 1990’s and the introduction of a fair trade traceable jewellery narrative, jewellery brands and companies have begun to invest into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to support their brand position. This approach has merit, but is not a sustainable wealth creation process for the communities from where our precious jewels originate from. CSR is dependent on the generosity of a company, it is a charity approach and at its worst green wash and spin. When the money runs out, the project/programme runs dry, leaving the beneficiaries back where they began.
Since the late 90’s I have been pioneering a Fair Trade approach to jewellery. Why? Because it puts the artisanal mining communities (the overwhelming majority in the jewellery supply chain) in charge of their own resource and the wealth that is created stays in the communities. The resources of the land belong to the people of the land. Luxury jewellery should leave a legacy of sustainable prosperity throughout the value chain. After all the luxury jewellery world would not want it’s customers to think it is selfish and narcissistic.
Valerio Jewellery is about making that luxury legacy a visible reality. Visible to my customers and visible to the communities from where I source my precious natural materials. This requires a commitment to transparency and traceability. I recognise that I need to be able to look my customers and private clients in the eye and say, ‘I know exactly where all my materials have come from’.
So here goes, and I start with one of my favourite jewellery combinations,
The Nyala Ruby and Diamond Engagement Ring.
The Ruby – Ruby is my all time favourite stone. Its depth, warmth and fire reflect a passion and vivacious character. The birthstone of July, it is also used to celebrate the 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries. The ruby pictured above is a cushion cut, AAA quality with a vivacious cherry red play of colour. I prefer natural stones and the ruby from this wonderful Malawi source is totally natural, no heat, no glue, no glass filling just a beautiful faceted cushion cut.* All ruby contains a measure of inclusions that effect colour and transparency that may be visible to the naked eye. To quote the GIA ‘because inclusion-free rubies are practically non-existent‘. In an ideal world I am looking for a pure natural (untreated) clean red (slightly purplish) colour that is neither to opaque or to dark.
The Nyala Ruby I have used for this engagement ring comes from the Chimwadzulu gemstone mine. I am very proud to work with Columbia Gem House, who have worked tirelessly to develop a gemstone source that delivers lasting tangible and sustainable development for the wider community and real measurable benefits to the surrounding eco-system.
The Diamonds – The diamonds I use are always traceable from mine to market. The diamond is intensely beautiful, as well as very complex to source in an ethical, traceable and transparent fashion. I work with known suppliers such as the CanadaMark™ stones, that are mined, cut and polished in Canada. Each stone over .20cts. is laser etched on the girdle with a unique reference number so it can be tracked and traced by its wearer. Diamonds that are smaller than .20cts are not marked and therefore require more attention to source detail. Sometimes CanadaMark™ cannot supply the specific stone required by the customer, this then means I use alternative diamond suppliers who are known and commit to a proven traceable responsible supply chain.
All diamonds should be supplied under the auspices of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) that should ensure that the trade in rough diamonds no longer contributes to war and conflict. No one wants a blood diamond on their finger. The KPCS is a legal compliance customs and exchange procedure required throughout the global trade in rough diamonds and should never be used as a consumer guarantee as it is not a consumer certification scheme on cut and polished stones. This is why I go beyond KPCS and source from Canada and other direct mine to finger verified sources.
The Gold – Certified Fairtrade, is a 1/3rd party verification process that delivers tangible and real benefits to artisanal miners who otherwise would be at the unscrupulous mercy of gold traders who care nothing for life, liberty, and the healthy well-being of miners and their communities. Fairtrade Gold directly tackles, through fair trade business practices the; social, environmental, labour, health and safety, democracy, transparency and traceability issues and fair pricing at source and so much more. You can review the Fairtrade Standard for Gold by downloading here.
Created in the UK – All my jewellery is crafted, fashioned, formed, cast and set in the UK. It carries the British Standard Hallmarks, my personal makers mark [GV] and the Fairtrade stamp in the metal. I am very proud of the emerging UK ethical jewellery market which is currently the most progressive jewellery trade in the world when it comes to an ethical approach to the creation of the jewellery.
It is important that jewellers give credit to their sources. No piece of jewellery comes to be worn by someone without the collaboration of the treasures of the land, the anointed sweat of a miners brow, the creative genius of designers and the love of the giver of the gift. My aim is to ensure that my customers can rest easy regarding the provenance of the materials, that in turn means all they need focus on is the design, style and meaning of the jewel they desire. Together we create a beauty that transcends the price tag. My hope is that you will be moved to consider my jewellery when you come to take that important step of getting engaged.
For private commissions please visit the Private Client Page.
*I recognise that to maximise the commercial potential for the run of mine, heat treating can add real benefit and therefore can make a big difference for gemstone mining communities.