Bibi van der Velden finds ‘green’ gold in Colombia Jewellery designer creates her first ‘green’ gold jewellery for Solidaridad Solidaridad recently launched the ‘Op Weg naar Goed Goud’ (The Way to Good Gold) campaign to promote sustainability in the gold mining and jewellery sectors. Jewellery designer and sculptor Bibi van der Velden (31) is an ambassador for the initiative, and she travelled to Colombia to search for ‘green’ gold alongside mine workers who, supported by Solidaridad, mine for gold sustainably. She has designed a piece of jewellery containing a unique, original and raw nugget of gold from the Oro Verde (Green Gold) organisation for Colombian miners who are already producing gold using responsible and sustainable methods.
Image: Bibi van der Velden panning for ‘green’ gold in Luis and Americo’s sustainable mine
“I never knew that gold mining had such an enormous social and environmental impact. The everincreasing price of gold is causing a real ‘gold rush’ and the problems will only get worse, which is why I believe it is so important to create more awareness for this issue. During my trip to Colombia, I met a number of different miners including Americo and Luis. They run a mine producing the world’s first ever ‘green’ gold: Oro Verde gold. I gave each of them one of the bracelets that I designed for the ‘Good Gold’ campaign. I incorporated a sense of the splendid scenery in and around Chocó and the abundance of natural materials I found there into my first piece of ‘green’ gold jewellery. I hope that this unique item convinces everyone that it is worth buying ‘green’ gold and supporting miners in their efforts to become more sustainable,” says Bibi van der Velden.
Jewellery made from ‘green’ gold Bibi van der Velden has designed a piece of jewellery made exclusively from ‘green’ gold and inspired by her expedition to Colombia. The item features a unique nugget of raw gold weighing almost 50 grams: one of the treasured finds of the Chocó miners. Holding the gold nugget is the figure of a man, made from polished gold, which represents the miners. This shiny figure symbolises the local community’s dependence on the gold mining industry on the one hand, and the role of the miners in pushing forward sustainable mining on the other. Both the gold nugget and the figure have been made from the same material, which illustrates how gold resonates in society. In addition, the necklace features both a pan used for sieving for gold and a local plant – the Dormidera – which instantly closes upon being touched. Seen as a whole, the necklace symbolises the fragility of the gold mining process. The importance of ‘green’ gold Solidaridad is encouraging the switch to sustainable production methods and strengthening the position of some 15 million small-scale producers. Supported by Solidaridad, the Alliance for Responsible Mining and Oro Verde, the Fairtrade-Fairmined (FT-FM) standard was introduced last year. This standard encompasses various aspects, including less environmental damage and more concern for the health of mineworkers and their families, and it also unites miners in a legal organisation in order to protect incomes in both the short and longer term. In recognition of their extra efforts, these mineworkers receive a price that is 10% higher than the market rate. They also receive an extra bonus if they work in accordance with stricter environmental requirements, such as mercury-free mining. The first pieces of jewellery made using FT-FM gold are scheduled for launch onto the Dutch market later this year. Meanwhile, Solidaridad is working on introducing a more sustainable approach within industrial gold mining. The current process often involves the use of toxic substances, such as cyanide, which can seep into the groundwater and rivers and can eventually pollute the sea. Solidaridad is actively looking for industrial mining companies who are prepared to collaborate on improving the sustainability of their gold mining activities. www.opwegnaargoedgoud.nl/english (available from June 20th) Bibi van der Velden and Solidaridad Since jewellery designer and sculptor Bibi van der Velden believes that it is important that the gold miners receive what is due to them, she designed a unique bracelet exclusively for supporters of Solidaridad’s Op Weg naar Goed Goud campaign. The bracelet, which Bibi specially designed for this cause, is sturdy yet elegant and can be worn by men or women. It comprises a brass ring featuring symbolic detailing and an adjustable strap. A bracelet is sent to each supporter of the Goed Goud initiative who donates € 15 or more at www.opwegnaargoedgoud.nl. For more details about the Colombian expedition, see www.opwegnaargoedgoud.nl/colombiareis (in Dutch)and for more details about Bibi van der Velden, visit www.bibivandervelden.com. For more info on Solidaridad see: www.solidaridadnetwork.org Note for Editors, not for publication: For more details, interview requests or royalty-free illustration materials, please contact Coebergh Communicatie & PR, Aline de Hoop, Leidsegracht 38-40, 1016 CM Amsterdam, Tel: +31 (0)20 470 87 87 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org