Sustainability is the new luxury


“It’s shiny, it’s pretty, I love it, I want it”, is quite often the first impression when we see exquisite jewelleries. Many times, in the lust of desire, we even forget to think about the origin of the raw materials the jewellery is fabricated from. And to be honest, the more you start to think about the matter, you realize that the journey from the mines to end product begins to look more horrible.

The ethical origins of diamonds have already been in discussions, especially the issues of blood diamonds that are sold in conflict zones to finance wars. The focus has expanded also to other material, such as precious metals like gold, and the way the raw materials end up from the mine to refinery and eventually to beautiful products.

In Baselworld, the watch and jewellery show, Chopard, Swiss luxury Watches and jewellery manufacturer, committed to 100% ethical gold by July 2018 in their jewellery and watch creations. They are the first luxury jewellery brand to do so.

With the commitment, Chopard also leads not only the industry towards more sustainable and ethical procedures but also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals. 17 Sustainable Development Goals, called also Global Goals, are the plan to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change.

In 2013 Chopard launched their Journey to Sustainable Luxury, to monitor its key impacts and improving sourcing and production processes to create a more responsible supply chain, from mine to the product. Through the program Chopard now delivered global market leadership and differentiation from competitors.

Karl Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President of Chopard commented,”It is a bold commitment, but one that we must pursue if we are to make a difference to the lives of people who make our business possible.”

Chopard considers ‘ethical gold’ as gold acquired from responsible source, verified as having met international best practice environmental and social standards. The two responsible sources to traced gold are artisanal freshly mined gold from small-scale mines as Fairmined and under Fairtrade, or through partnership refineries with Responsible Jewellery Council Chain of Custody Certification.

However the endeavor has not been easy for Chopard since finding artisanal gold miners meeting the standards has been difficult, but through collaborative efforts and initiatives, smaller mines have been able to do improvements, for example in Columbia, to meet the standard and increase the volume on ethically extracted gold. Currently, Chopard is the largest buyer of Fairmined gold.

Caroline Scheufele, Co-President and Creative Director of Chopard said that the journey is not finished to the announcement, much more needs to be made for better planet. Now ethical attention is focused on diamonds and gold, but still there is work to be done especially certifying colored gemstones. Currently the traceability of colored gemstones is described as a night mare, due lack of certification system.

In the press conference, Chopard had also their ambassadors present such as actor Colin Firth and actress Julienne Moore. Julienne Moore took strong stand on advocating ethicalness and sustainability. She has been wearing Chopard items in red carpet. She mentioned that she is in the position that practically there ain’t anything in the world she could not borrow, and she wants to be the role model to carry by choosing ethically produced products – and that is true luxury for her.

Sustainability in jewellery has never been a discussion as such as in other fields of fashion. Related to the topic, Chopard also hosted panel discussion about jewellery & watch business starting to contribute to Global Goals. In the panel, mostly human rights, equal pay of women and man and child labour rose as the most discussed topics even though also environmental issues linked directly to mining but also as a burden to the environment in the refinement phase are challenges the industry has to solve.

As well-educated about the Sustainable Development Goals, personally I highly appreciated and enjoyed the expertise that Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco Age, provided to the topic. Speaking about the importance of business commitments to achieve the UN Global Goals, Livia Firth said: “Today, thanks to The Global Goals, we have a 17 point plan laying out social and natural capital goals – and no one should be exempt from these. Connecting citizens with what has been called one of the most critical initiatives of our times is absolutely essential and exciting, if we wish to see a path to a more sustainable and just future. It is exciting to have Chopard share this vision and at Eco-Age we look forward to working with them to achieve this”.

Model and activist Noëlla Coursaris from Congo reminded that consumers should not accept products origin from conflicts areas. Therefore, overall, achieving peace, is an important issue to get the wealth relating the raw materials distributed more equally and benefiting the well-being of all the people in the nation.

One of the most memorable things brought forth was by a human rights lawyer mentioning that people buy beautiful things because they want to feel good. What if the origin of the jewellery does make you feel bad? Without the sustainable, accountable and traceable background, the jewellery looses the lure and sparkle. The luxury now is sustainable thinking.

Raw materials of watches and jewellery are highly sensitive matters and the industry has dark features in acquiring the material, let’s admit that. Do you as a consumers close our eyes and ignore on what is the origin of the product? Or do you want to make yourself really feel good and beautiful by advocating the ethicalness and playing your part for better planet? “The jewellery needs to be pure in carat, but also pure at heart.”


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