How fascinating it is to have a glimpse into someone else’s working life.
Meeting Christina in her workshop with her assistant, Jess, and watching while they created beautiful earrings and rings from silver was a magical experience. Chris has been a jeweller for 21 years, 13 in Frome and 8 years at 3 Bath Street. She makes handmade silver and gold jewellery. Her decision to work in Frome was made easy by knowing of the high concentration of makers and craft people in the town, who provide a supportive network of other artists.
The three values she holds most dear in her business are:
Firstly, customer service and valuing loyal purchasers.
Secondly, having an ethical stamp: being both ethical and environmentally sensitive, she uses recycled silver and Fairtrade gold and gemstones. Both of these are far more accessible than previously.
Thirdly, through participation in an organisation called FLUX, a Fair Luxury Networking group which shares information about sourcing and suppliers. The group also lobbies companies to become more ethical. They have an annual conference focussing on creating ethical jewellery.
The Fairtrade and ethical products she uses and sells include recycled silver and Fair-mined gold, platinum, rubies, sapphires and tanzanite. Until now Fairtrade diamonds and silver are not yet available, but ethical jewellers are working towards changing this situation. She explained that she gets her supplies of Fairtrade gold from Peru (and FT gold will be coming soon from Africa). A Fairtrade number – the FLO ID – tracks supplies back to the source. Her stones come directly from Tanzania and Sri Lanka. The ability to track back to the producers is crucial, as is the direct link between them and the jewellers.
When asked what makes her use these Fairtrade products, she described the history of mining as extremely dangerous, exploitative and disastrous for the environment. The network of Fairtrade jewellers, through their contacts, seeks to change this rapacious situation.
Chris spoke enthusiastically about the Bath Christmas Market where the jewellers are local artists using Fairtrade raw materials. In her own, personal life Chris, both at home and at work, chooses always to use Fairtrade products. She is a key member of Fairtrade Frome, especially at carnival time. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to see her at work.