Fifi Bijoux Owner Sees Ethical Jewelry Trend on High Street

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(Rapaport…Newsquest Media Group Ltd) Singers Alicia Keys and Kanye West have spoken out about it, and now a Glasgow jewelry designer hopes to bring “ethical jewelry” to the high street.

The equivalent of the antifur campaign for the bling generation, ethical jewelry is jewelry where the materials used in construction have been sourced from countries or suppliers without questionable human rights or environmental issues.

It has become a big issue in the United States and now Glasgow School of Art graduate Vivien Johnston is bringing the concept to the United Kingdom.

The 29-year old designer has set up her own jewelry design and wholesale firm Fifi Bijoux.

She said, “I feel strongly about the human right abuse issues which still prevail in areas of the jewelry industry.

“Slave labor and child labor are still commonplace in some countries, where the mining of precious metals and diamonds takes place, and in others they can work in appalling conditions.

“There’s also the problem of arms trading, drugs, and people trafficking from a significant dark underbelly in many mining communities.

“I’ve been creating one-off pieces for clients which are completely traceable and the materials come from countries where no atrocities take place, but these have been high-end luxury pieces where cost is less of an issue.

“I’ve designed and worked with jewellers in Britain and many care about these issues, but it can be a struggle to trace their supply chains, simply because of the volume of jewellery they sell.

“But I’ve decided to create my business where I can make affordable designs and jewellery and then supply the high street jewellers.

“I’m working with other interested parties so this will be easier for the industry as a whole.”

Working on the project for more than a year, a large part of Vivien’s time has been spent on sourcing these “clean” materials. And she has also worked hard on making the prices as keen as possible with her designs selling on the high street for around GBP150.

Vivien, who has been supported by Glasgow City council’s Women into Enterprise, is donating a percentage of profits to charities involved in aiding the victims of atrocities in gold and gem mining areas.

She said, “I originally set out with the intention of creating a co-operative that would make funds available to offer direct assistance to further implement fair trade and ethical practices in the mining of precious metals and jewelry.

“Setting up a business and a charity is too much too soon, but eventually that’s what I hope to do.”

Copyright 2006 Newsquest Media Group Ltd.

© 2006 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved.

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