For London jewellery store EC One, attaining B Corp status was not about “flogging more stuff”. The certification is a continuation of the ethical practices that have long fuelled the business.
“I think we are quite reflective of our customers,” says Alison Skeates, who runs EC One with her husband Jos Skeates, who is currently studying for a masters degree in sustainability and responsibility. “You know, you think about where things come from and you care where you spend your money. Our customers are very much the same. You want to spend your money with, and align with, people who have the same core values.”
Long before it aimed for the certification, the store in London’s Exmouth Market became an ethical jewellery pioneer when it made the first ever piece of Fairtrade gold jewellery in 2011. It has since pledged to work only with Fairtrade gold or recycled gold in its on-site workshop. It also runs an assessment of all the contemporary jewellery designers it stocks, which include sustainably minded jewellery brands Ellie Air, Natalie Perry and Pyrrha.
London jewellery store EC One achieved B Corp status in 2019
EC One achieved B Corp, or B Corporation, status in the summer of 2019. To win this certification, the jeweller had to go through a vigorous accreditation process that assessed the business’s entire social and environmental performance, from how it treats its staff and community to its impact on the environment.
Becoming a B Corp is not an easy process. There are many hoops to jump through and standards that must be set, with a legal contract put in place to ensure pledges made are maintained. There are just four jewellery companies that have achieved B Corp status so far – EC One, Yala Jewellery, Fenton and Form.
B Corp describes its process as such: “Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using businesses as a force for good.”
Natalie Perry 9ct recycled gold and ethically sourced grey diamond Floral Fragments ring, £395, shop at EC One
It took EC One a full year to get the business ready for assessment. “You have to revisit everything you do – all of your processes, sourcing, every element of your business, literally everything,” says Alison. “You then get assessed and there is a minimum bar you have to reach, a certain number of points, before they will assess you properly.”
B Corporations are given a score, so shoppers can get a feel for just how well they are performing on ethical practices. The average score for B Corp businesses is 50.9, but the jewellers within the scheme are outperforming this. EC One is currently scoring 87.7, while Yala has a sore of 87.6, Form has 86.6 and Fenton has 84.9.
While Alison is keen to point out that gaining the certification was not about boosting sales, she says that some ethically minded customers do seek the store out because of B Corp. “And I’m sure that will only increase,” she says.
The team at EC One, which has its own on-site jewellery workshop