Updated: Apr 21, 2020
We interviewed Media and PR Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, Martine Parry, to discuss her view on Fairtrade Gold, her connection with her engagement and wedding rings, and why jewellery and sentimentality don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Read the full interview below:
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery?
A: I only really wear my engagement ring and wedding ring, and I didn’t choose either – my husband took my children shopping, and it’s completely not to my taste, completely unethical! They were very young when they chose it, but they liked it which means I’m willing to wear it. I never take either of them off, and it looks slightly tarnished now but it did used to sparkle! We were on a tight budget at the time and that affected certain decisions - Fairtrade Gold was just launching but was more expensive.
“I was given a few sentimental pieces… which have memories that I haven’t shared with anybody, but am planning to one day”
Q: Do you know anything about the origin of the ring?
A: It came from a standard high street jeweller in Croydon… which makes it even more unromantic! I don’t know anything about it’s traceability. I know that it’s definitely not attached to Fairtrade, which is why I’ve never tried to find out more about it’s origin.
Q: What do you think the role of jewellery and fashion is?
A: I’m very conscious of keeping things, not changing over my clothes too often, and passing things on to my daughter so that I have that story to be able to tell about my clothes in particular. Embellishment is about how you define your identity, your values in many senses, and if you invest in clothing then it should be something you can pass down. I’m ethically conscious, but more in terms of what I eat than what I wear which is interesting because I’ve been working with Fairtrade cotton for many years.
Jewellery and fashion are what you project to the world, how you want to come across, they are both about making statements, political statements often or personal ones. That you fit in and are the same as everybody else or that you’re not.
“I see jewellery as an embellishment”
Q: So would you describe yourself as sentimental?
A: Not really, I pass clothes down to my daughter because it’s more I think she’ll appreciate the fashions that have changed and come back again. I’ve kept the more expensive clothes so that if they come back into fashion she can have them.
Q: Do you find jewellery sentimental?
A: I was given a few sentimental pieces by my stepfather and grandmother but I don’t wear them because I don’t really like them. I would never get rid of them because they have memories, which I haven’t shared with anybody but am planning to one day. Jewellery is interesting in that there are so many different layers to it: there’s the fashion side, the arts and craft, or the symbolic value of status, wealth, and commitment.
“Jewellery… creates memories, preserves them, and tells a story”
Q: If you did have a large array of jewellery, what would you see as it’s purpose?
A: I would definitely use it to dress up an outfit for an evening, I have a few nice pieces and I do often use them for that. I see jewellery as an embellishment, not something I would use everyday.
Martine with her engagement rings
Q: How do your engagement and wedding rings make you feel?
A: I find them vaguely comforting, habitual I guess. When I go on trips for work my wedding ring is very useful, it’s important to be recognised as married because travelling can sometimes be dangerous. The wedding ring isn’t universal, in many countries they don’t recognise what it symbolises. If I lost them I would definitely be annoyed, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken – but that’s just because I’m not so sentimental about my jewellery. If it’s monetary worth was more I’d be more careful with it I’m sure.
“Jewellery and fashion are what you project to the world, how you want to come across, they are both about making statements, political statements often or personal ones”
Q: If you could have a dream piece of jewellery, what would it be?
A: A ring I think – more artisanal, authentic looking. It would be a day-to-day ring, I think I’d be worried about the security of something really expensive, which might be something that would stop me wearing it. A really beautiful cocktail ring would be amazing though, I would love one!