Dr. Greg Valerio MBE
Awarded MBE in 2016 The Queens New Years Honours list for services to Fairtrade Gold and artisanal gold mining communities in South America and Africa.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate by Winchester University for services and work in the field of social justice in 2016.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate by Chichester University for work in social and environmental responsibility in business practice 2017.
Winner of The Observer Ethical Awards Global campaigner 2011.
Voted by The Retail Jeweller 2011 and 2016 as one of the Top 100 Trailblazers in the UK Jewellery Industry
Maverick, pain in the arse, social entrepreneur, out of the box, radical, passionate, emotional, idiot, unmanageable, direct, to the point, breath of fresh air, rebel, visionary, scruffy, non-conformist, looks like a bum, economic terrorist, heretic and dangerous bastard have all been used to describe Greg and his commitment to human rights, ecological responsibility and fair trade & ecologically just practices in marginalised and forgotten communities.
Standing in a Rajastani garnet mine in India he called the ‘Gateway to Dante’s Inferno’ convinced Greg he had to be not only a budding retail jeweller – but also a campaigner on behalf of those who were being exploited at the source.
The destinations he visited were often like apocalyptic scenes – Sierra Leone diamond mines, Congolese gold mines and Indian gemstone mines where adults and children worked knee-high in mud, exploited by local and international traders, the modern day slavery of extreme proportions. All this compelled Greg to confront and create a better option for the jewellery world. Greg has consistently challenged the industry giants and power brokers – with passion and fire – to pursue human rights and environmental justice throughout the jewellery value chain.
Life wasn’t always that way, of course. Greg was expelled from school. He spent his teenage years in the theatre and on the streets of London during the 80’s. These experiences opened his eyes to the plight of the poor.
He has worked with iconic campaigners and fashionista like Bob Geldof, Katharine Hamnett, Anita Roddick and Harriet Lamb. He was the first international jeweller to visit Oro Verdé, Colombia, where he befriended eco-friendly gold miners.
Monitoring supply routes of raw materials, Greg became determined to make transparency and traceability the jewellery professions mantra. ‘Jewellers often ignore the stories of their sources,’ he said. ‘This is an industry that continues to run scared of the truth, yet it has the wealth and power to put it right.’. In 2004 CRED Jewellery launched the first ethical jewellery website selling ‘green’ wedding rings. Seven years later, he became The Observer Ethical Awards Global Campaigner 2011 for his work in advocating for Fairtrade Gold. He was voted by The Retail Jeweller as one of the top 100 innovators. In 2016 he was awarded a MBE for services to Fairtrade and working for the rights of artisanal miners and their communities.
Respected as a social entrepreneur in jewellery, Greg believes the dreamscape, hopes and aspiration of communities cannot be built on the desolation of the destitute, economic injustice, the chaos of conflict and the ecological abuse of the planet.
Over the last few years Greg has been working closely on the ground with Centre for Resolution Conflict and Peace Direct in Ituri Province in eastern DR Congo. The Peace Gold programme works with ex-militia (male and female) to legalise their work in gold mining, to turn their gold processing mercury free and to establish an export platform for their gold. These groundbreaking communities have worked hard to overcome huge, social, political and environmental challenges to achieve gold mining COOP’s that embed peace building, mercury free production and socially transformative cooperative practices that directly impact local communities in a sustainable way.
Christian Relief Education and Development (CRED)
In 1991 aged 24 following trips to Tanzania and Ethiopia, he started CRED a development education network on the south coast of England. Working with young adults in schools and colleges he became a regular facilitator of young activists in the field of human rights, the environment and fair trade (economic justice for the poor).
In 2016 CRED Foundation launched its Mercury Free Gold Programme – designed specifically at working with African artisanal mining communities to achieve Ecological Fairtrade Gold production with appropriate technology and the establishing of dedicated export trading platforms. This programme, in partnership with EWAD (Environmental Women in Action and Development) and Belgian Government secured mercury free fairtrade certification for Sayonja Artisanal Community Mining COOP in Uganda. The first certified Fairtrade Gold source in Africa.
In 1996 Greg Valerio started CRED Jewellery the pioneering fine jewellery company. Cred Jewellery was the UK and Europe’s first jewellery company to retail fair trade green gold and platinum jewellery collections. Some of the highlights of his work has been the publication in 2003 of, ‘Towards an Ethical Jewellery Business‘, as well as, the introduction in 2004 of fully certified green gold wedding rings to the UK in partnership with Oro Verde. Cred Jewellery was the entrepreneurial business that proved that jewellery can be sold ‘from mine to retail’ in a fully traceable and transparent fashion. It proved concept that Fair Trade in Jewellery was possible.
Greg worked with The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) and other International Fairtrade Organisations from 2010 to 2014 co-ordinating their International Gold programme. Whether it was advising on the content of the Fairtrade Gold standard, introducing refiners, manufacturers, Assay Offices, trade associations and government bodies, he was able to work right across the gold supply chain. Coupled with his experience as the first ethical jeweller, and a founder of ARM, he has developed an intimate knowledge of traceable supply chains, from mine to market.
After visiting this pioneering small-scale mining initiative in 2003/04, he continues to advocate for their social and environmental mining in the rain forests of Colombia. Oro Verde supported indigenous sustainable mining methods for gold and platinum that do not use cyanide or mercury and offer 100% transparency on gold.
Alliance for Responsible Mining
In 2005, alongside artisan miners from Colombia, Greg Valerio was one of the founding Board members of ARM. An NGO mineral consultancy that specialises in working with artisanal mining communities. Stepped down in 2010.
Following an invitation in 2008 by Inuit small-scale ruby miners in Greenland, he witnessed first hand the colonial marginalisation that was taking place at the hands of the Danish Government and the Canadian Mining Company True North Gems. He has been active in supporting the indigenous people’s right to mine, own, transform and sell their Ruby without fear of prosecution by the authorities. In 2020 Greg imported cut and polished ruby from Greenland, direct from the hand of the local people and incorporated it into his jewellery collections.
Greg has two daughters, is responsible for a flock of rare breed sheep and is a founding member of The Society of St Columba, a Celtic Christian new monastic community at Chanctonbury. He also keeps Bees and Quails.