Greg Valerio Bio

Winner of The Observer Ethical Awards Global campaigner 2011.

Voted by The Retail Jeweller 2011 as one of the Top 100 innovators 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 and dangerous bastard have all been used to describe Greg and his commitment to human rights, ecological responsibility and fair trade in the jewellery sector.

Standing in a filthy mine in India he called the ‘gateway to hell’ convinced Greg Valerio he had to be not only a budding 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 confronted 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 80s. But various experiences opened his eyes to the plight of the poor.

He ended up rubbing shoulders with iconic campaigners and fashionista like Bob Geldof, Katharine Hamnett and Anita Roddick. 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 his mantra. ‘Jewellers often ignore the stories of their sources,’ he said. ‘This is an industry that is running scared of the truth, but with the resources to put it right.’

In 2004 his former company CRED 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.

Respected for his creativity and reviled for his compassion, Greg believes the dreamscape of jewellery cannot be built on the desolation of the destitute and the ecological integrity of the planet.

Through Valerio Jewellery he aims to show that grandeur for the rich doesn’t have to mean grit for the poor. Everyone should have a share of the beauty and bounty.

Greg Valerio.01

General info and history.
Owner of VALERIO Jewellery – an online ethical and fair trade fine jewellery brand.
Christian Relief Education & Development

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).

CRED Jewellery

In 1996 Greg 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’, the introduction in 2004 of fully certified green gold wedding rings to the UK in partnership with Oro Verde.

Fairtrade Gold.

Greg worked with The Fairtrade Labeling  Organisation (FLO) and other National Fairtrade Organisations from 2010 to 2014 co-ordinating their International Gold programme.

 Oro Verde

After visiting this pioneering small-scale mining initiative in 2003/4, he continues to advocate for their social and environmental mining in the rain forests of Colombia.  Oro Verde support indigenous sustainable mining methods for gold and platinum that do not use cyanide or mercury and offer 100% transparency on gold.

Ameriko’s Green Gold mine in Colombia.

Greenland Ruby

Illegally Confiscated Ruby Greenland

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. It is still illegal in Greenland to pick up ruby and take it home.

Fair Jewellery Action

Basic CMYK

In 2010 with US ethical jeweller Marc Choyt, he co-founded FJA whose aim is to make ethically sourced jewellery the only moral choice for consumer and supplier. FJA enables jewellers and jewellery businesses to commit to transparency and traceability in the jewellery supply chain from source to product. It also acts as a voice to marginalised communities who are effected by injustices around mining as a whole.

In conclusion.

He is happily married to Ruth with two girls Mali-Grace and Jemba-May. His personal interests and practices are enjoying his Triumph Bonneville, Sea Kyacking, researching and practicing indigenous Celtic Christian spirituality and living as simple a life as is possible given his love of Indian food.



10 thoughts on “Greg Valerio Bio

  1. Dear Sir,

    I have been recommended you by Jack Ogden. I’m am doing a documentary for MA Film Making at Kingston Uni. I am a Gemmologist so I do understand the profession and the marketplace. The particular topic is ‘Exploitation in the Ruby Industry’ Would it be possible to meet with you and discuss things regarding this.

    Many Thanks

    Ian Plantagenet

  2. Dear Sir,
    When I read your business is interesting. I remember my father. I’m Bernard Valerio from Philippines. Now I’m working in a yacht here Barcelona, Spain. I was working in Alaska too in a cruise ship. The reason why I do interested in all your work, because before I work here as a sailor after my father passed away. My father had a jewelry making and I was working as a jewelry appraiser in his two pawnshops in our country for five years. I had experienced to attend two seminars about jewelries. I wish one day I will know more about this business like your sir. God bless… Bernard V.

  3. Dear Mr. Valerio,

    My name is Mariella Bloom. I am communications officer at the Otro Diseño Foundation for Cultural Cooperation and Development. We are organizers of major exhibitions on the converging fields of contemporary art and design, with a strong emphasis on contemporary jewellery (such as Walking the Gray Area ). We would like to make contact with you regarding an exhibition plan of a new exhibition. I include my contact information. I would appreciate if you could get in touch with me so I can let you know about the project.

    Kind regards,

    Mariella Bloom

    • Dear Mariella,

      Thank you for your enquiry. Please let me know the details of your event. I would be happy to speak at it and contribute to the ethical component. I would expect my fees and costs to be covered. Greg

  4. Dear Mr. Valerio.

    First and foremost, thank you for your effort in promoting sustainability in the mining sector. I am a Norwegian master student in the final year of my MSc in Development Management and my thesis is:
    The potential and the anticipated developmental implications of including associated precious metals in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

    As it seems that you are highly competent in the subject, I would appreciate it if you would allow me to make an interview with you . If so, please send me details on how you prefer this to happen (Email, Skype etc.).

    Best regards,
    Mr. Joakim Bergan Eriksen

  5. Hey Greg you are very cute. So, as i am a Jeweller in Sydney, where do i find fairtrade gems to purchase here ? Also where do i buy FTFM metal in Australia ? Is anyone producing second hand refined gold and silver in quantity. Thanks, Lou.

    • Hi Louise,

      I am not sure Fairtrade Gold is available in Australia. I suggest you contact the Fairtrade labeling organisation in Australia and speak to them about introducing it to the Australian market. Do get back to me if you do not get any joy as I can at least put you in touch with CRED Sources who can sell you some bullion product. Greg

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  7. Inspiring stuff! I have Just ordered and looking forward to the read! I went to Namibia this year to check out small scale mining and see the efforts there to help develop and add value to the product at source. I agree the industry is in desperate need of reform, its obsessed by traditional and nepotism, barely aware of the world around it and the impact it has!

    I also have a blog where we write about ethical jewellery issues would you consider doing a guest post?

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