At a star-studded press conference in the Swiss town of Basel in March last year, Chopard made a bold announcement. By that summer, it would only work with gold that it deemed to have come from verified “ethical” sources.
While ethical jewellery practices, and gold sourcing in particular, has been a focus for many smaller jewellers and designer-makers across the world, Chopard is the first major luxury jewellery brand to have made such a public –and complete –pledge to sustainably sourced precious metals.
The announcement was a milestone for Chopard, but its involvement with the ethical jewellery movement started long before, with the launch of its Journey to Sustainable Luxury project six years ago, as co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele tells us.
What made you first think about creating luxury jewellery in a more ethical manner?
“As a family-run business, sustainability, responsibility and ethics have always been an important part of our family philosophy. Naturally, we have always put ethics at the heart of the values of Chopard. Eighty years ago, I met with Livia Firth, founder of Eco-Age, during an event for the Oscars. She made me realise that there was no real traceability of the gold used in the industry. The Journey to Sustainable Luxury project thus began with the launch of an ethically crafted Green Carpet collection at the Cannes Film Festival. Along with Eco-Age, we forged a philanthropic relationship with ARM [the Alliance of Responsible Mining] to directly support and enable gold mining communities to reach Fairmined certification and provide training, social welfare and environmental support. We are proud to have reached a serious milestone in July 2018, when we achieved the use of 100% ethical gold for the production of all our watches and jewellery.”
Are you still involved with the Green Carpet movement today?
“Yes, we are part of it. We are the famous jeweller of the red carpet–in Cannes, at the Oscars, the Baftas–so we use this privileged position to turn the red carpet green whenever it is possible. We love offering actresses the chance to wear ethical pieces, and they feel proud to be associated to this great initiative. In Cannes last year, actress Julianne Moore wore a fantastic necklace from the Green Carpet collection. Charlize Theron, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Gemma Arterton wore some too.”
Do you feel there is an increasing demand for ethical jewellery?
“There is definitely a great interest.This is thanks to the younger generations who realised the real luxury is to know the provenance of a luxury good. When one talks about luxury, many customers nowadays want to be sure that they buy products which were manufactured under the best possible working conditions and with social responsibility. The demand is real, although the path to reach it is a journey, but one that we must pursue if we are to make a difference to the lives of those people who make our business possible.”
Words: Rachael Taylor