Christmas Lecture Given by Ms Harriet Kelsall
On Dec. 8, 2021, a world-renowned bespoke jeweller Ms Harriet Kelsall gave a Christmas lecture on line.
Harriet is the founder and chair of the multi-award winning business, Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, the Deputy-chair of the NAJ and a board member of both the British Hallmarking Council and the UK Intellectual Property Office. Her company was the first in the world to both be licensed to use Fairtrade gold and certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council and it is an example of a truly responsible small business.”
When she started the business the jewellery industry, like many others, had been historically corrupt. It had done a lot of harm to people and the environment. But she later met an activist who was establishing a Fairtrade and Fairmined process, and in due course the Fairtrade Foundation asked her to assist them in establishing their process for linking Fairtrade gold to UK designers and makers. She was delighted to help and especially thrilled when Fairtrade gold was officially launched in 2011.
After Fairtrade and Fairmined gold was established, she began gently pressurizing her own suppliers (none of whom were using Fairtrade gold) to do better. She wanted to be able to tell her customers that everything that we made was made from precious metals and gemstones that had gone through a process to ensure that they were responsibly mined, extracted, produced and sold. However many jewellery companies in the UK were, at first, resistant to this. They could not see the point.
She said the situation is now different. Over the last few years in particular, customers attitudes are changing and these companies are beginning to catch up with those of the group who have been pushing for responsible gold for many years.
According to her people think that having a so called ‘ethical’ business vision does not go hand in hand with having a profitable business. They imagine an ‘ethical’ business could only be one where people have to be prepared to work long hours for very low wages with a charitable mission. But she stresses that a brand can be both ethically minded and luxurious and a business can be responsible even if it is only a small business. She also stresses that things are still far from perfect, but stresses the importance of being honest about being ‘on the journey’ and to keep driving to improve everything within reach.
(Department of International Relations)