Emilie Bliguet: the most radical change to fair metal, in a space of inter-cooperation

The work of a jeweller is a profoundly artisanal one, involving hours of dialogue between the materials and the creator. For Emilie Bliguet, in these moments of intimacy the artist’s hands listen to the stories that the metal reveals about its origins. With this idea in mind, one day, more than ten years ago, she decided to embark on the search for stories of a different kind.

She recalls that it was not so easy back then. The Oro Verde program was the only responsible metal-sourcing initiative, and her attempts to contact them were unsuccessful. Some time later however this project gave way to the creation of the international Fairtrade and Fairmined certification system for artisanal and small-scale mining. This was a major step forward. In 2014, she obtained the Fairmined licence and integrated responsibly-sourced gold and silver into her jewellery.

The move she made was far from a gradual transition, and more of a radical change. Soon, 80% of her production was made from fair trade and traceable metal. In terms of using metals, she states that making the change is much easier than it might otherwise seem. At least that’s how it was in her experience. She has also incorporated diamonds and coloured gemstones into her work, although in the area of gemstones she has found it more difficult to make progress in ethical terms. Half of the gems she uses are responsibly-sourced and she wants to improve this. She still has quite a bit of stock from a trip she made years ago to India and sometimes has trouble finding the type of stone she is looking for within the time frame for delivery of the piece.

In the El Born neighbourhood, in the heart of Barcelona, Emilie shares the Espai Micra studio with two other jewellers who hold the same values. Emilie believes that cooperation is one of the bases for promoting a more responsible jewellery industry. Together they look for suppliers, they carry out research and they test products and techniques with reduced environmental impact, and even study the small details in their workshop, in order to apply the most sustainable options: from cleaning products, to water filters, they reuse the packaging, restore furniture and rely on bicycle courier services. They have close ties with the local neighbourhood and are part of community initiatives that stimulate small local business and promote crafts. Three years ago, they obtained Biosphere certification, and this opened their eyes to new aspects, such as gender perspective and communication.

Communication is in fact one of Emilie’s biggest challenges. Her aim is to explain the stories behind her pieces with positive impact in a more prevalent and influential manner, she wants to explain why she chooses to work with responsibly-sourced materials, how this affects the price of her work, and, to contribute to generating critical awareness through active, honest and transformative communication.