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The Future Is Fairmined, According to the Founder of Futura Jewelry

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A Colombian-based initiative from the Alliance for Responsible Mining, Fairmined certifies that gold is mined following responsible and ethical standards. Recently, Fairmined launched The Fairmined 100 Challenge, which tasks designers with creating 100 new collections using Fairmined certified metals by the end of August 2022. One of those brands is Futura Jewelry, which has a line that exclusively uses 18k certified Fairmined Ecological Gold for its handcrafted–in–New York jewelry.

We connected with Futura’s founder, Bob Donofrio, to discuss the brand’s partnership with Fairmined and experience with the challenge, the importance of industry-wide education and communication, and why mercury-free Fairmined gold is the future of jewelry.

How did your relationship begin with Fairmined?

Futura Jewelry was born to lead the jewelry industry to a better tomorrow. I  spent over 30 years in the luxury jewelry business and never thought to ask where the materials we use came from. I was doing independent research five years ago and discovered the harmful effects of the mercury that is used to mine for gold. Once I became aware of the issue, I was compelled to make a difference. I then educated myself and became a partner of the United Nations, who had just initiated the Minamata Convention that is committed to eliminating worldwide mercury emissions—39% of which come from small-scale gold mining. Throughout my research I then discovered the Fairmined organization. I found that the standards set by Fairmined served my vision when it came to forming Futura. In 2017 Futura became a Fairmined licensee. I formed Futura with a mission to make consumers aware they have an option of clean, mercury-free gold when it comes to choosing jewelry and making a conscious purchase.

What made you decide to participate in the challenge?

All of Futura’s jewelry is handcrafted in New York from 18k Fairmined Ecological Gold, and as long-standing partners with Fairmined we are so proud to participate in the challenge with our new collection, Forever Futura. The Forever Futura collection is composed of five timeless rings, each of which hails from different iconic periods in history and are named to celebrate and honor the important elements of our planet that Futura holds sacred. We felt that our new collection of stacking rings, their connection to the planet and our brand values aligned perfectly with the initiative of the Fairmined Challenge.

Why is the initiative important to you?

The Fairmined 100 Challenge is important for Futura as it helps us to amplify our message of educating the consumer about the importance of mercury-free, sustainable, and traceable mining practices and giving them the power through their purchase to make a difference for the planet. The initiative is also important to Futura to support the Fairmined organization’s commitment to educating [people about] mercury-free mining techniques to eliminate the toxic threat of mercury throughout the mining process and the improvement of the well-being of small-scale gold miners throughout the world. We also believe that this initiative is important for the future of the entire jewelry industry and that we will lead the way for all jewelry brands to eventually do the same by utilizing mercury-free Fairmined gold.

How has the challenge been so far? What sorts of obstacles have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The Fairmined 100 Challenge is a powerful way to come together as an industry to strengthen the commitment to sustainability and traceability and to have jewelry brands begin to communicate the important message to their customers about mercury-free gold jewelry options and why eliminating mercury from the mining process is so important to us and to the planet. Amplifying this message across the jewelry industry will help to educate and raise awareness within the consumer marketplace, thus creating the demand for more jewelry to be made with Fairmined Ecological Gold.

Futura, as a leader within the industry, has faced challenges such as visibility, reach, and brand recognition, which are all common struggles for an emerging brand on the forefront of change. However, through the support of our incredible retail partners we have been able to directly communicate the mission and brand values of Futura to their customers. Coupled with our digital marketing campaigns, which promote education and awareness of mercury emissions, and our brand values, we have begun to see positive results. The biggest challenge has been communicating a very difficult message to the consumer: a) understanding what mercury is and its usage in gold mining and its impact to the planet and our health and b) that jewelry can somehow improve the environment, our lives, and the lives of many small-scale gold miners around the world. Futura’s job, and our job as partners with Fairmined as industry leaders, is to educate the industry and the consumer to raise awareness on the issues of mercury and mercury emissions from gold mining, as well as to give them the new option of traceable, ecological, mercury-free gold jewelry.

What do you hope to take away from the challenge?

We hope to learn together as an industry and as a brand how to communicate this complex issue more clearly to the consumer and to see other challenges and success stories from other brands within the Fairmined 100 Challenge. We hope that through this initiative we will be able to reach a wider audience and customer base and improve our education reach and get consumers excited about the power of their purchase to make a difference on a global level.

Is there anything that we’ve missed that you’d like to add or emphasize?

Mercury-free Fairmined gold is the future of jewelry, and we hope together with Fairmined and other brands through the Fairmined 100 Challenge we can make this happen.

Top: Rings in 18k certified Fairmined Ecological Gold from Futura Jewelry’s Forever Futura collection, from $895 (photo courtesy of Futura Jewelry)

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By: Annie Davidson

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