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The Shine of Cheap Street Jewellery May Hide Child Labour: Time to Shop Responsibly!

We are all guilty of buying a pair of earrings for a few hundred rupees. I mean, who can resist the price and the pretty looks, right? But did you know that 27 kids were rescued from an artificial jewellery factory in Gujarat last year? #ShopResponsibly

The Shine of Cheap Street Jewellery May Hide Child Labour: Time to Shop Responsibly!

Accessorising is tempting but expensive, which is one reason why many of us choose street-side options that cost no more than a few hundred rupees in total.

I, for one, cannot resist inspecting, if not buying, shiny new jhumkas, studs and earrings on every street corner I spot them.

I may not wear them regularly, but who can resist the pretty colours and glitter of imitation jewellery, am I right?

Jewellery is a style statement. And if you want style to be ethical, sustainable and empowers the rural artisans, head to our shop here to check out the choicest of trinkets.

A few months ago, I was on my way home in a cab after just such a happy cheap-shopping spree, and as a matter of habit, scrolling through news websites.

(The habit comes with the profession, what to do?)



I landed on a March 2018 Times of India report, after the headline caught my attention. In short, the story revealed how 27 West Bengal child labourers were rescued from a Rajkot jewellery making unit.

Reading the article got me thinking. There is no sure way for me to know where my artificial jewellery came from.

The pretty blue earrings I was planning to wear to the office the next day could have, for all I knew, come from the very same Rajkot factory.

Who knows what secrets these colours hide? Image Courtesy: TBI.

It would mean I have funded a factory employing children to work in pitiful conditions.

Now, to be sure, it perhaps seems unlikely that a factory in Gujarat supplies products to a street shop in Karnataka.

But the Rajkot factory is not the only one in India to have a child labour racket. Plus, that city alone has about 1000 jewellery making units. Jaipur too had come under the radar for employing underage children in their bangle factories. So we know that Rajkot is not a one-off incident.

One can only calculate how many more are spread around the country. And how do we know for sure that the factory supplying the pieces to our favourite shop doesn’t employ children?

Representative image only. Source: ILO Asia-Pacific/ Flickr.

Now in India, this is a rabbit hole from which there are no easy answers. Much of our manufacturing is plagued with such issues. And we cannot make such deep considerations every single time we buy something.

However, it is very much possible to understand where our products come from when it comes to major brands or casual purchases.

That way, you can hold the brand accountable for their products and processes.

It’s not like you are restricted in choices of the design if you shop responsibly. If you explore enterprises that make jewellery, you’d be spoilt for choice.

For example, a street shop is unlikely to sell a pendant embedded with a hand-pressed Himayalan flower in it. But this store does – and does it responsibly.

Image Source: TBI.

And if you love whacky stuff that stands out from the crowd, there’s always a range of upcycled jewellery and products made by rural artisans.

Such designs will never go out of fashion – since they are reviving dying arts or protecting the environment in their capacity.

I do understand that the jewellery sold on the streets also employs thousands of poor men and women. However, child labour as a practice is horrible and should not be encouraged either directly or indirectly.

It is a compromise that may be needed because no trinket is worth the loss of someone’s childhood.

You may also like: Where’s Your Cotton From: 5 Ways to Check If It’s Khadi, Handloom or Mill-Produced

(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)

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