In 2009, 9 years ago, the Jewelry shop founded by my granpa in 1926, Belloni’s Jewelry, began to buy sustainable gold, coming from South America through an English supplier. We soon created our brand – Ethical Gold – and at the beginning we focused on wedding rings. It was a success: we met an unexpressed need of gentle customers, people who shared our same values! Then we decided to contact Colombian companies to directly import the ecological gold by the Oro Verde Cooperative, located in the region of Choco. After few years the cooperative started to have some problems related to the extraction methods and the damage to the territory, caused by illegal mining. At that time we got in touch with the Alliance for Responsible Mininig and thanks to them we began to buy the Fairmined certified gold through a European certified supplier.
In 2014 Belloni’s jewelry became the first Italian Fairmined licencer.
Why we joined ARM?
My father and my grandpa tought me to live and work with honesty and respect for all the human beings and for our Earth. That’s why I immediately appreciated the benefits that a Fair Gold Mining brings to a territory and to people living on extraction work, often victims of environmental damage and abuses at work. Our hand-made production has developed more and more, including rings with semi-precious stones and diamonds, pendants and bracelets, and other jewels. Lately we also introduced jewels made with the casting process and this allowed us to expand the range of Fairmined products and to offer products at a lower cost. In Italy we had been the only licensee for a few years. Recently other 3 companies obtained the license.
It is something but still a very small drop in the ocean… considering Italy is one of the largest producer and exporter of jewelry in the world!
Why do the Italian jewelery companies not really care about responsible jewelery?
That’s true: many speeches, none concrete initiative. In my country the consciousness for responsible products has developed since ‘90’s relating to food, specially coffee and bananas. Also, we saw an increasing interest and consumption for sustainable clothes. But only a mininum interest for jewels. The reason why? I would say that Italian goldsmiths and jewelers have both a very conservative mentality. They struggle to accept new processes and new business methods.(I always say that it is easier for an Italian jeweler to change his wife than a supplier. (….) Seriously, …being the Italian jewelery industry so strong, I think it is afraid of losing market and therefore keeps hidden the problems related to precious raw materials. Managing a new supply chain is much more challenging than continuing with the old, well-known methods. For example when I explain to my colleagues that I have to undergo an audit in order to be certified as a Fairmined Jewelry they think I’m mad… However, I’m optimistic. I do think that at the end customers make the markets. Then, an increasing demand for sustainable products also in jewelry, will result in an increase of the offer and always more Italian jewelery will try to give an answer to a more conscious and attentive consumer. Little by little ….
Belloni’s jewelry is based in Milan, Northern Italy.
To discover more about us www.ethicalgold.it
Francesco Belloni, 48 years old, handled the jewelry founded by his father in 1955. Married, two lovely daughters, he works hard to achieve his goals, he works with passion and sense of responsability. The claim he chose for his ethical brands is “Dignity is the most precious asset”.