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Your Guide to Buying Fair Trade Jewelry

Fair Trade Jewelry from Spearman Artisanry

“I’ve turned my passion for hand-crafted gifts into a globally-minded business, providing an outlet for artists and artisans to share their work with the world.” – Jannett Spearman, Owner Spearman Artisanry

Recently, you may have seen the label Fair Trade attached to some cute jewelry collections. While your love of the unique designs may have sparked your initial interest, it may have also exposed you to a thoughtful movement. Fair Trade extends far beyond coffee and clothing to the jewelry industry. As shoppers have become concerned with stories about international sweatshops, you may have noticed an uptick in advertising that labels jewelry as Fair Trade.

However, it can be confusing. Sometimes, the issue gets cloudy when fair trade items are advertised alongside similar, sweatshop items. Below is our quick guide to buying Fair Trade jewelry.

What Does Fair Trade Mean?

Fair Trade Artisans in Peru
Jannett Spearman, Owner (left) visits artisans in Peru to source new inventory.

If you’re not sure what the term Fair Trade means, you’re not alone. In fact, it was just recently added to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Essentially, it’s a movement with the goal of helping producers in developing countries get a fair price for their products. This helps lower poverty, ensures ethical treatment of workers and encourages environmentally sustainable methods.

Awareness for Fair Trade products is slowly growing. In recent years, Americans have started to consider how goods are produced. This has pressured several Major retailers to examine buying and production practices.

To summarize, Fair Trade focuses on “Three Core Beliefs”:

  • Producers have the power to express unity with consumers.
  • Current world trade practices promote unequal distribution of wealth between nations.
  • Buying products at a fair price is a more efficient way of promoting sustainable development than charity.

Lock Hughes details this in the article “What Fair Trade Actually Means—and 4 Products You Can Feel Good About Buying.”

How Does Fair Trade Benefit Communities?

  1. It helps ensure basic human rights for farmers and workers around the world.
  2. The practice benefits the planet.
  3. The farmers, workers, and fisherman behind each product earn extra money with every sale.

If you hold similar values, then you’ll want to consider buying jewelry from ethical sources.

      

How Do I Find Fair Trade Jewelry?

Finding Fair Trade jewelry is easy. You just need to ask the right questions. Then, you can make an informed purchase. Below are the questions you should ask to find out if jewelry is fair trade.

1.Which countries supply your jewelry?

This question provides insight into the source of the product. For example, some countries have a long history of sweatshops where workers are subjected to unfair wages and unsafe conditions.

The US Department of Labor lists several countries that regularly use child labor or forced labor. Although the organization may not be purchasing from a sweatshop, this question offers insight into their intentions. If they have intentionally set up relationships with responsible groups or directly with makers, they will express that immediately. If they seem unaware or uninterested in the labor conditions of the exporting country, their jewelry may not be Fair Trade.

By asking this question, you can start a conversation about the working conditions of their artisans.

2.How do you select your makers?

Most organizations select providers based on price. While this isn’t a bad thing, the jewelry may not be Fair Trade. Look for companies that have relationships with their artisans or a connection to the local community. Then, they’ll be more interested and engaged with the working conditions and wages of the workers.

3.How do you pay your artists?

This question can be complex. However, the answer should be simple. You just want to make sure the money isn’t going through a middleman that delays payment or takes a large cut. Ideally, workers should be paid quickly and fairly for the jewelry they make. If you get an answer that sounds like money funnels through several channels or groups to reach workers, it might not be Fair Trade. Try to find businesses that buy directly from the makers and pay artists promptly.

4.What is your mission?

Typically, businesses and organizations that focus on Fair Trade build their business around supporting the workers. These companies know the working conditions. Their owners visit makers regularly. They listen to the stories from those communities. Their mission will reflect this focus.

Simply ask about their mission. You should be able to trace their business model back to a desire to help makers in specific communities.

 

 

A Little Research

Often, you can find this information on an organization’s website or by talking to someone at the company. If an organization offers Fair Trade goods, they’ll be more than happy to explain their process and show you more about how they help maker communities around the world. If you want to know more about Fair Trade or how Spearman Artisanry sources our products, feel free to contact us. We’d love to talk to you!

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Everything You Need to Know About Fair Trade

Fair Trade Children's Shoes

At Spearman Artisanry, we primarily offer Fair Trade products both in our store and online. Most of these are from countries in South America and created by artisans that the owner, Jannett Spearman knows personally. So, we describe our shop as “A Fair Trade Boutique.” This means that we purposefully select clothing, jewelry, accessories and homegoods that follow Fair Trade principles.

This matters to us because we have a personal connection with makers and care about the economies of developing nations. If you feel similarly, you might be interested in learning more about Fair Trade. Below is everything you need to know about Fair Trade.

What is “Fair Trade”?

A relatively new social movement, Fair Trade aims to help producers in developing countries through better trading terms, better working conditions, and sustainable production methods. Often, this means that the prices of items are higher than other imported goods because the workers make fair wages and work in safer conditions. In an age where unethical labor practices dominate the international marketplace, Fair Trade companies offer an alternative for thoughtful consumers.

Fair Trade promotes greater equity in international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency and respect. They want to secure the rights of marginalized producers and workers in developing countries. Fair Trade focuses on “Three Core Beliefs” to help producers in developing countries:

  • Producers have the power to express unity with consumers
  • Current world trade practices promote unequal distribution of wealth between nations
  • Buying products from producers in developing countries at a fair price is a more efficient way of promoting sustainable development than charity or aid.

Which Goods Need Fair Trade?

The U.S. Department of Labor lists some of the worst offenders of forced and child labor by product and country. There are many common items that are typically made with child labor or forced labor. Worse yet, many of these goods are created in unsafe working conditions. If bought from overseas, the following items are often made using unethical labor:

  • Accessories, especially handbags
  • Carpets
  • Chocolate
  • Clothing
  • Cocoa
  • Coffee
  • Coal
  • Cotton
  • Diamonds
  • Gold
  • Electronic Devices
  • Leather
  • Rice
  • Rubber
  • Tobacco
  • Sugarcane

Recently, stories of clothing and accessory factories have made the news with many popular brands accused of operating sweatshops.

How do you shop “Fair Trade”?

While there are certifiers, the movement is somewhat new and still defining its practices. So, the best way to shop “Fair Trade” is to do your own research. Get to know the people behind the companies and the workers that they employ. Instead of falling for slick marketing, you will likely need to communicate with a store owner or importer to understand how they source their goods. Then, you will get a better picture of how those items are produced and imported to America.

Fair Trade Alpaca Scarf
Handmade in Peru

What make Spearman Artisanry “A Fair Trade Boutique”?

Spearman Artisanry brings you handcrafted gifts from artisans both in the US and around the globe. Our goods are primarily fair trade or made locally to ensure that each piece matches our ethical and quality standards. In fact, the owner, Jannett Spearman sources all of the items in our shop directly from the artists.

Jannett started her career in Peru which included learning how to make jewelry by hand. Additionally, she worked alongside her husband and family as a part of various international ministries and nonprofits. Now, her jewelry business has expanded into a fair trade boutique.

Part of the mission of Spearman Artisanry is to support our artists, especially those in South America. By purchasing directly from artisans, and visiting them in person, Jannett can ensure the process by which the goods were produced. Mostly, these are family businesses where relatives work together to handmake homegoods, accessories and clothing.

Everything in Spearman Artisanry is…

  • Ethically Sourced: Jannett knows each of the artisans personally, allowing her to ensure they are treated fairly.
  • Fairly Priced: We want to share our artist’s work with as many people as possible and keeping fair prices allows us to reach more shoppers.
  • High Quality: We only sell items of the highest quality handmade by artists and artisans around the world.
  • Unique to You: All of our gifts bear a bespoke quality and many are one-of-a-kind.

If you want to know more about Fair Trade or how Spearman Artisanry sources our products, feel free to contact us. We’d love to talk to you more about how to be a thoughtful consumer. Stay in touch with us by following our Facebook page.