Walking into winter months when  jackets and scarves become a necessity,  a bold pair of Fair Trade earrings is an easy way to maintain your personal style, uplift your spirit, and participate in the greater economic good. This season Global Exchange‘s  offering of Fair Trade earrings are fantastic! 

Global Exchange in Berkeley has so many beautiful earrings to choose from in  a variety of materials, styles and colors. Lucky me, shop manager, I get to share my favorite five with you!

Fair Trade Earring1. Hand made in India, these earrings are carved from bone.  In warm orange and festive fuchsia, they are light weight, chic and fun to pair with jeans and a big sweater or a little black dress ($14.50) Fun Fact: all Global Exchange earring hooks are either sterling silver or surgical steel.



Fair Trade Earring2.  Handmade in Guatemala from Geo cut semi- precious stones, cotton tassels, bronze metal leaves and brass chains, these unique earrings are a show stopper. We carry these exotic beauties in a blue and green color way,  they are a perfect way to spice things up ($32.50)



Fair Trade Earrings3. Handmade in India  these bold,  brushed, brass  earrings are not only a sustainable metal alternative to gold,  they are light weight with a big personality and can pair with just about anything ($18.50) Fun Fact: Brass will always shine to a brilliance.



Fair Trade Earring4. Handmade in Guatemala these elegant earrings are intricately woven in interesting patterns with rich colored, glass beads. These beads feel nice on your neck and the vibrant colors really pop. We carry these beauties in a variety of colors! ($32.50)



E 15. Hand made in India these mod earrings are made of cube shaped beads in silver, gold and gunmetal hoops that dance together when hanging from your ear. Their elegant  sparkle is perfect for New Years Eve! $16.50




E6**Bonus **I know, I said top 5 but I have to throw in some beautiful Balinese, 3 tear drop, semi-precious, Garnets in sterling silver! Perfect for the ballet,symphony or opera, these one of a kind treasures are deep in color and timeless treasures. ($85)



Whether its a gift for family, a friend or yourself, Global Exchange offers  earrings in all lengths, from edgy studs to elegant drops to swaying hoops, it was a challenge to choose only 5! You should come in, I just finished lighting our cloth lanterns, decorating our trees with ornaments and filling our jewelry cases!






It’s time for the Global Exchange Holiday Party at our Fair Trade Stores in Berkeley and San Francisco, Wednesday, December 4 from 5-8pm!

Holiday parties are a time to come together and celebrate our values. They’re also time a to get a little dressed up.  At Global Exchange, we choose to celebrate community, culture, and sustainability through our clothing and jewelry. 

In the spirit of coming together, we had the pleasure of collaborating again with LOFT1513, a San Francisco based shop where local designers feature one of a kind, handmade apparel, for this blog post.


Fair Trade Sterling Silver and Garnet Chandelier Earrings

As you can see, I was excited to model our selection of Fair Trade sterling silver and gemstone jewelry made by second generation silversmiths in Bali, Indonesia, along with a few awesome, locally designed and made dresses from LOFT1513. 

U.S. based small business owner, Stacey Greengard started the Fair Trade wholesale business Kasih as a way to partner with Balinese silversmiths in the creation of high quality, unique jewelry, and to support her family as a single mother.

Fair Trade Sterling Silver Pearl and Garnet  earrings handmade in Bali

Kasih, which means “give and love” in Indonesian, makes down-payment on production, involves the artisans in democratic decision making and in the creative design process, and provides stable income for a growing number of families in the field.  Stacey and her son Raman are considering moving to Bali because they’re so close to the families they work with.

LOFT1315 carries a variety of cocktail style dresses in rich reds, delicate laces, and warm knits that pair perfectly with Kasih Fair Trade jewelry—sweet or statement-making, always sustainable.

Fair Trade Sterling Silver and Blue Topaz EarringsIMG_6734In preparation for our photo shoot, Fair Trade Stores Program Director Jocelyn Boreta and I walked into LOFT1513 to pick out some beautifully crafted party dresses. We were inspired by the independent spirt of the space, and encouraged by intern and designer Noel to try a few on that you see here.

Whatever your style inclination, we’re excited to see you concious shoppers in your most festive Fair Trade ensembles at this year’s Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores Holiday Parties!


Come enjoy some holiday cheer and find gifts for your loved ones, while creating a more sustainable and just world. We’ll see you there!

Where: The Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores

When: Wednesday, December 4th from 5PM-8PM

20% OFF for Global Exchange Members on this Special Night! (Not a member yet? No problem! You can become a Global Exchange member today.)

Tagua Earrings in Stunning Spring Time Turquoise

Tagua Earrings in Stunning Springtime Turquoise

It’s almost Mothers Day, and mom who knows right from wrong better then anybody, doesn’t want a gift sourced from others’ suffering.  As a daughter, adoring aunt, and buyer at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores, I know that Fair Trade jewelry is always the right gift for mom. Jewelry sales soar in our stores this time of year and luckily we have a large selection of jewelry that is sourced right.

A majority of the jewelry in the mainstream market is sourced from silver and gold mines in the Global South. The extraction of these metals is highly toxic and destructive to mining communities and environments.  Countless examples exist of high fatality rates in miners, poisoned water sources, sickened families, and destroyed ecosystems.  Check out the powerful example of Canadian Goldcorp mine in Guatemala from the perspective of the indigenous Mayan community in the award winning documentary Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth.

Here’s where it gets complicated: silver and gold smiths from the hill-tribes of northern Thailand to the pueblos around Mexico City continue long traditions of metal work that supports their communities and families.  We believe that the work of these small-scale gold and silver smiths should be supported, and for this reason we carry a limited amount of their jewelry in our stores.

While the primary focus of the Fair Trade craft movement up until now has been the labor that goes into the final product (gotta start somewhere), many of us are asking what about the raw materials?

Amazing alternatives to gold and silver are available today.  Much of the jewelry we carry in the Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores is handmade from recycled metals or natural materials.  My favorite line is the jewelry made from tagua nut, also known as eco-ivory for its color, beauty and resilience.  The smooth white palm seed, about the size of an avocado pit, is collected from the rainforest floor after having fallen as fruit and usually stripped of its edible layers by animals.Tagua Earrings in Brilliant Ruby Reds

Before the invention of plastics, and when ivory had become scarce, tagua seeds had been used for hundreds of years as a raw material for luxury goods, but with the invention and increased use of plastics, tagua was not put to use. In the last decade, with an increase in environmental awareness, tagua is valued again for its beauty and characteristics as a natural, biodegradable, and renewable resource. The tagua used in the production of our jewelry, is sourced from strictly government-controlled environments, making sure that sufficient seeds are left to perpetuate the palms and the tagua native habitat.

Unlike many lines of seed jewelry, which may be playful but not a substitute for gemstones set in silver and gold, this line of tagua is simple and stunning.  The smooth ivory-like seeds are carved into slabs, died in vibrant color, and sometimes etched into elegant, one-of-a-kind pieces.  And like gemstones or precious metals, I was thrilled to learn that tagua comes in different qualities depending on where it is sourced.  The tagua jewelry that we carry is handmade in Colombia, where the level of moisture in the air determines the quality of a seed that can be carved into a solid smooth slab.

63 artisans in Bogota, Colombia find full-time work in the production of the tagua jewelry that we carry.  The company assures that all business decisions are made democratically, with pricing being set collectively by the workers.  A majority of the artisans make the jewelry in their homes and come to a center, which conducts regular 3rd party inspections and evaluations for work-site safety, to drop off their product and attend meetings.

This Mothers Day, explore your options, and use your buying power to promote socially responsible industry that has a positive impact on people and native habitats.  I know mom would approve!

Check out our full selection of Fair Trade jewelry at the Global Exchange Stores today!

The following is the first post in a 2-part series written by Global Exchange Fair Trade intern Suzanne Moloney about the metal mining industry and the ways in which artisans are reusing metals and other materials to create completely guilt-free jewelry, accessories and housewares.

Fair Trade jewelry has become a popular item sold here in the US that has provided benefits to artisans throughout many impoverished nations of the world, allowing them to continue traditional methods of handcrafting jewelry with dignity.

Yet while the impact on these artisan’s lives is undoubtedly significant, certain ethical questions have been raised about Fair Trade jewelry as well as other items crafted from metals. As Ethical Metalsmiths explains, within large-scale mining “there is no way to trace gold back to the mine, there is no standard definition of responsible mining, and there is no way to certify that mines are meeting any standard.”

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IMRA) argues that ethical mining capable of benefiting local communities requires both an independent monitoring system, as well as a system of incentives to encourage responsible practice, yet admits “there is currently no mechanism to independently verify operations that are likely to achieve this result or to offer these incentives.”

Although some small-scale artisanal gold mines have been Fair Trade certified, only 20 designer makers currently have access to this gold. Debates on the benefits of certification of large-scale mining continue, yet it remains unquestionable that mining practices can be damaging to local communities and the environment.

This creates an important contradiction within the Fair Trade movement; while some metalwork artisans are provided with an opportunity to improve their livelihoods with a degree of financial security uncommon in many parts of the world, the environment and local communities in mining areas continue to bear the brunt of the dark side of the metal industry.

Mining practices are associated with both ecological and social problems in the communities that they are located in.  Mining generally requires the tearing up of the landscape, and the chemicals used in processing precious metals are often incredibly toxic. Cyanide and mercury are routinely used in the production of gold, and are responsible for the pollution of rivers and the contamination of fish. Both of these chemicals also have long-term health impacts for the workers who are forced to handle them, often without the correct safety equipment.

Despite the fact that the local communities experience the brunt of this environmental damage, the material benefits of mining are typically funneled away from the local economy, instead generating wealth for governments and international investors. In fact, developing countries that are rich in minerals have some of the slowest growth rates in the world (http://www.nodirtygold.org/economic_and_financial_toll.cfm). According to No Dirty Gold Campaign, the mining industry is considered one of the most dangerous industries in the world, claiming the lives of over 1,500 workers each year and continues to fuel conflicts across Africa.

Sneak peek at artwork featured in next post in this series!

So what’s a responsible shopper to do?

Notwithstanding the amazing potential of economic security that Fair Trade offers people in the developing world, the problems of mining cannot be ignored. Considering the controversy that surrounds the logistics of establishing Fair Trade mining on a scale large enough to meet the demands of the metals industry, it seems worthwhile to explore other options for socially responsible precious metal shoppers.

Pieces crafted from recycled materials are a responsible choice for ethically-minded consumers seeking peace of mind when they shop.

There are all sorts of Fair Trade recycled jewelry available in the market; some made from old aluminum cans and ring pulls, others made from reused silver and gold pieces. Artisans are creating bags made of recycled tires, and decorative sculptures are hammered out from old oil barrels.

Stay tuned for my next post, the second in this series, where you will read about a Haitian artisan who is creating new beauty out of old oil drums.

Shop fair. Give fair! This Valentine’s Day celebrate your sweetheart with fair trade jewelry! We’ll give you a FREE fair trade, organic chocolate truffle if you spend $50 on jewelry! In case that doesn’t settle your chocolate cravings, join us in the store on Sunday, February 13 for a fair trade chocolate tasting!

This chocolate-filled promotion starts TODAY! Come check out our growing collection of beautifully hand-crafted jewelry; we have everything from Brazilian geode rings to Balinese precious and semi-precious gemstones to Peruvian butterfly-wing earrings to 98% silver earrings from the Hmong tribe of northern Thailand and Vietnam.
Global Exchange Fair Trade Store. 4018 24th St (b/t Noe and Castro). San Francisco, CA. (map)
When: February 7-14, or while supplies last (Store hours: Sun & Mon: 11am-6pm. Tues-Fri: 11am-7pm. Sat: 10am-7pm).

This Sunday, join us for a fair trade
chocolate tasting! San Francisco-based artisan chocolate company Coco-Zen will be providing organic, Fair Trade Certified chocolate to sample this Sunday afternoon. Bring the kids to make Valentine’s Day cards, or use our color-your-own Valentines asking Hershey’s to go fair trade!
Where: Global Exchange Fair Trade Store. 4018 24th St (b/t Noe and Castro). San Francisco, CA. (map)
When: Sunday, February 13. 1pm-4pm.
Price: FREE!

We hope to see you soon! Happy Valentines Day from the San Francisco Global Exchange Fair Trade Store!