Hanna Rainio, the founder of Kätkö Koru, is the first goldsmith in Finland who uses Fairtrade gold in her jewellery. She’s happy for being new in the goldsmiths’ profession, as she has had the opportunity to do things differently and choose materials that are sustainable.
– ”No way!” was my reaction when the goldsmith education was suggested for me the first time. I have never been fond of jewellery. But as I didn’t have a better option, I tried. And got immediately hooked, Hanna laughs.
The former painter was fascinated by the challenge she faced with precious metals. Giving a new shape for the piece of metal by filing and polishing wasn’t easy and required full attention, forgetting everything and everyone around. Hanna fiddles a ring in her hands and explains that there’s no shortcut for making a piece like this. It felt good for the everything-must-be-immediately-ready-type of person Hanna is to learn something completely new that needed patience.
As Hanna fell deeper in love with the goldsmith’s work, she also faced a massive inner conflict with the materials she was using. Could she ever be a goldsmith, working in a sector that wasn’t ethically and ecologically sustainable?
As none of Hanna’s teachers knew if ecological materials in this business existed, she started her own investigation.
– I am a person who wants to do things right all the way. I am not satisfied with “almost 100% recycled”, I want to know straight – is it 100% recycled or not, almost isn’t enough for me.
Quickly, Hanna found the English company Cookson, which sells 100% recycled eco-silver, which is melted from scrap silver, broken jewellery, industrial surpluses and the silver parts of pharmaceutical and electrical equipment. Soon Hanna also discovered, from Coockson too, the existence of Fairtrade Gold, gold that has been responsibly mined by artisanal and small-scale mining organisations and where child labour is eliminated. Also, the miners receive a Fairtrade minimum price and on top of that, a premium price, which can be used for the social, environmental and economic development in their communities. In addition, the certification controls the miners’ working conditions, for instance, safety and the use of toxic chemicals.
– To my mind, Fairtrade gold raises the question on the ethicality of precious metals and producing them. We cannot keep robbing the natural resources from already poor countries, Hanna states.
Hanna has made a Small Gold Licence with Fairtrade International. She pays a licence fee for the organisation so that she can buy, produce and sell jewellery made from Fairtrade certified gold, which in her case comes from Sortram, Peru. She also has to report on each jewel sold for Fairtrade Finland.
– Now, some might criticise me for not using recycled gold, as the Fairtrade gold must also be mined. In my opinion, however, those two cannot be compared. Recycling is a great thing, but the profits always end up in the hands of big companies. By buying Fairtrade gold, I ensure that the miner gets a decent salary for a living and paying the licence fee means that the whole community is supported. In a way, it is development aid.
In 2015, after Hanna was ensured that the metals were in line with her values, Kätkö Koru was founded. She is extremely glad of being new in the business since she has had the opportunity to do things differently, to know where from the gold comes and choose materials that are sustainable.
She recalls the excitement and her worries of finding customers when opening the studio. Fortunately, many of her customers have actually found Kätkö Koru due to using Fairtrade gold, and many have shown interest in it. Besides, to her own designs, Hanna makes custom-made jewellery, which often is re-melted and re-used from their old jewellery and carry a story in them.
– I’m like a little child, so carried away with the goldsmith’s work and gold, the metal born in the bowels of the earth. So beautiful, scarlet red when heated and never trash!