Sustainability & Satisfaction
The Precious Metals Workshop and This is Ian, co-located in Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street, are two of the leading ethical jewellery based organisations in Scotland. Working to promote bespoke designs with sustainable precious metals and ethical gemstones.
Director Ian Nicholson knows that beauty does not have to come at a cost to the environment or social values. Working in partnership with two of the top names for jewellery in Scotland, Fairmined and Fairtrade. Ian has been driven to support greater understanding of exploitation and the harms of unethical supply chains in the gold and jewellery industry.
His message, he tells me, is simple: “source materials safely and give back to artisanal communities.”
Ian’s vision is informed by a lifetime’s interest in artisanal gold and silver mines in the third world and wanting to get to know his supply chain. Perhaps the most significant experience was 20 years ago when he visited silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia. While there, he witnessed first hand the exploitation of local communities in the service of satisfying the craving for gems and silver to feed the wants of first world countries.
At 4000 meters above sea level and 100m below ground conditions were, at best, perilous. Which is to say the mines were toxic. Trailing an atmosphere of dust, chemicals, lack of oxygen, no tunnel supports and no rules, regulations or governing bodies.
Indeed it was just flashlights, pick axes, buckets and dynamite. To be permitted access to the mine a guide was required and the price of the tour was gifts for his colleagues. These gifts consisted of tobacco and dynamite.
Ian clearly remembers giving a 12-year-old boy called Juan dynamite so that he and his father could blow up rock and extract silver. It is very unlikely that Juan is alive today - this technique is a cheap way to mine and also deadly. Most miners do not live past the age of 35, due to mine collapse or silicosis - a long-term lung disease.
To this day, what he saw happening to young Juan and others has made him a lifetime advocate for change and uncompromising practice, when it comes to ethics in the jewellery community.
Nowadays, Ian works with couples as they take the important step of choosing their wedding bands and engagement rings. His brand, This is Ian, offers a wide selection of responsibly sourced gems, Canadian and laboratory grown diamonds, as well as natural and lab grown coloured gems.
The Symbols of Love range provides traditional wedding bands and engagement rings and a contemporary collection of commitment bands and pledge rings for individuals who wish to break away from established concepts and procedures and look towards responsible sourcing.
Clients are offered one to one advice on the best options for them, tailored towards budget and design. Recycled family gold can be used and some couples opt to take a mentoring session to design and make their own rings.
This popular two-day workshop guarantees an experience of lasting happiness and Ian is on hand to support the delivery of a luxury handcrafted product. As Scotland comes out of lockdown he is once again open for business and safe, distanced make-your-own workshops.
It is more important now than ever to support the artisanal mining sector. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the communities from which Ian sources his gold.
Requesting Fairmined and Fairtrade gold returns a premium to mining communities to help re-build their society and infrastructures. At a time when we have all had to makes choices to keep each other safe, there is no better opportunity to pay it forward and give something back than a Symbol of Love.
Info: Ian can be found at the upcoming Wedding Exhibition at Murrayfield on 12th/13th September or make an appointment to meet him at his workshops in the Out of the Blue Drill Hall.