Only 144,000 tons of gold have ever been extracted from the earth, 75 percent of it since 1910. There’s a good chance that the gold you wear on your fingers or around your neck was once involved in a war or conflict. One South African company is trying to change this.

Choosing a wedding band is one of life’s most significant experiences and reflects a deep personal commitment. Yet, have you ever questioned the social or ethical commitment of the company behind its making? Probably not. A new global awareness around conflict diamonds and responsibly-mined gold is seeing consumers take a closer look at the supply chain that leads to the impressive pieces on their ears, fingers and wrists. With dwindling natural resources on the planet, the temptation exists for many producers to extract materials at the expense of communities, workers and the environment.

A growing number of people and organizations are now calling for standards to be drawn up that ensure that human rights and are considered in the mining sector. Gold is already the primary source of income for armed groups in eastern Congo, much of which ends up in jewelry stores across the world. The link between gold and unlawful armed conflict and civil wars is well documented. Besides fuelling conflict, illegal gold extraction and dealing denies communities livelihoods and economic opportunities. In South Africa, Oro Africa recently launched the Absolute collection that has confronted this problem head-on.

Each wedding band is crafted from virgin gold, freshly extracted from the African earth, making each ring a pristine symbol of a brand new beginning. The trademarked product, called RandPure, consists of newly extracted gold ore; virgin metal of known provenance with a traceable source.

Inspired by the African philosophy of ubuntu – compassion, human dignity and respect for all – the woven bands reflect the continent-wide tradition of grass weaving and hair braiding.

 

Their manufacturing process is also independently monitored from start to finish and the gold is not contaminated with any scrap gold. The company has made a pledge to ethically source their raw materials and to develop communities in areas where the gold is found. “The collection is aimed at a new breed of consumer, who demonstrates a collective desire to protect the people and regions where our gold is sourced,” says Madrie Scott.

“It’s a logical next step for us, knowing how important responsibility is within a sector known for rogue traders,” she says. Oro Africa have collaborated with another local company, Rand Refinery, for this venture. This company has already refined over 50,000 tons of gold– almost one third of all the gold ever mined in the world. “The Absolute brand is currently the only gold brand that can claim with full confidence where their gold comes from,” says Scott.

“It provides an opportunity to make a responsible choice, with known provenance and a clear chain of custody from ore to store,” she says. A growing demand from consumers around the world is that information on the products they purchase is freely available and allows them a guilt-free experience.

So, before you declare your love for someone, ensure that what you put on their finger is not already tainted with the suffering of people in far-flung lands.

www.orodesign.co.za