At the end of August 2017 I will be retiring from being an ethical fair trade jeweller.
Over the last 21 years I have had an amazing adventure in the jewellery profession. It has taught me so much about the best and worst that humanity has to offer to itself. However I have decided it is time step away from being a retail jeweller and to invest my energy, creativity and passion for sustainable change into other area’s of life. It is time start all over again. I leave the profession knowing that there are now hundreds of jewellers across the world who will take the ethical message and practice of jewellery to greater heights than I could ever achieve.
I will continue to lecture on ethics in the jewellery and extraction business and to work with the eduction profession, trade bodies, NGO sector and the profession as a whole, to share my experiences and story in the hope that the jewellery trade will be able to take steps in an honourable direction. Steps towards greater awareness of the challenges it faces and concrete steps to make a tangible impact for the greater good on all the millions of exploited, impoverished and down-trodden individuals and communities throughout the jewellery supply chain.
I have always believed that the people of the land should benefit from the resources of land, so whether you are artisan gold miner in Uganda or a small tenant farmer in England, the inequitable settlement that exists in the modern world screams out for interventions that lead to wholesome, sustainable communities where quality of life is a more important value than the pursuit of profit and the homogenisation of culture through corporate greed.
Peace Direct – Peace Gold DRC.
Stepping out of retailing jewellery does not end my jewellery story however. I am delighted to be involved with Peace Direct and The Centre Resolution Conflits in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in developing a Peace Gold process with ex-militia, using the Fairtrade Gold standard as a benchmark for community based development. For me as an advocate of responsible fair trade small-scale mining, the notion of seeing gold used to build peace rather than conflict, fairness rather than exploitation, community rather than corporate greed, is the heart of who I am as an activist. To work alongside Peace Direct, Centre Resolution Conflits (CRC) will be an enormous privilege and in many regards represents the Holy Grail in working with small, artisan gold mining communities. I will of course blog my way through this over the coming years in the hope of seeing the story change from conflict gold, to peace gold.
Society of St. Columba @ Chanctonbury, West Sussex. England.
For over five years a small dedicated group of friends have been working to establish an open-handed agrarian Christian community on the South Downs of England. The Society of St. Columba is an expression of Christianity that is whole-life orientated (mind, body & spirit). It is committed to protecting our ecological bio-diversity and integrity, conservation of land and landscape and rediscovering local agrarian solutions to rural food poverty. Investing into local community solutions that improve quality of life and are replicable for everyone, is at the heart of pursuing the Common Good.
I unashamedly believe that a re-awakening of genuine spiritual values; peace, service of the poor, hospitality & inclusivity, freedom, care and conservation of creation, prayer and ethical lifestyle is in the interests of everyone. Our society is being strangled by a narrow, cynical alignment of the pursuit of profit with political endorsement and encouragement. Prayer is our language that speaks to God, and God stands outside of petty politics, power and the addiction to wealth that has so come to dominate British life.
Looking left or right for societies solutions seems to offer only confusion, perhaps it is time we looked upwards and inwards for simplicity, wisdom and inspiration as to the way forward.
There can be no greater challenge in modern Britain than to live a wholistic spiritual life for the benefit of others.
In leaving the jewellery profession I wish to thank all those individuals and groups who have so richly blessed me, supported and believed that we can do jewellery in a different way, an ethical way. Onwards and upwards.
Greg Valerio MBE.
NOTE: www.valeriojewellery.com will cease trading online as of 2 September 2017.