Basel, Switzerland, March 23, 2018. At a morning press conference yesterday at the Baselworld fair, luxury house Chopard announced big news: as of July 2018, it would use 100 percent ethically sourced gold from one of two traceable routes—artisanal gold from Fairmined and Fairtrade mines and those participating in the Swiss Better Gold Association and metal from Responsible Jewellery Council-certified refineries.
The news is significant because it could inspire other brands to follow suit and reinforce the message that lives—every life, not just ones in First World countries—and the environment (and not just the places where your kids play) matter. After all, precious resources like gold often come from remote areas of the world where regulations are lax. Myriad independent jewelry designers (think Alexandra Hart, among others) have long championed exactingly responsible steps like this, and other brands like Tiffany & Co. have certainly played a role in early sustainability efforts such as the No Dirty Gold campaign. However, Chopard’s stunningly ambitious announcement yesterday propels it to the head of the jewelry pack of leaders in jewelry sustainability.
What brands do matters because of their reach; Chopard can afford to set a precedent like this and announce it to the world. It can also maintain a stable of high-profile paid ambassadors like actress Julianne Moore, actor and director and husband-and-wife team Colin and Livia Firth, model Arizona Muse, and Chinese personality Roy Wang—who were all present at the press conference—to help drive home the significance of its endeavors.
Company principals Caroline and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele talked at the conference about how this ambitious plan came to fruition. When the brand marked its 150th anniversary in 2010, it engaged in a jewelry project with the World Wildlife Fund, whose officials coached Chopard about improving its sustainability practices. “We realized that we were not perfectly in line with sustainability, so the WWF suggested we join the RJC,” recollected Karl-Friedrich to the crowd about the brand’s decision to join in 2012. “Then we realized we could do more about gold, so we embarked on the journey to responsible mining in 2013.”
This is when Chopard introduced Fairmined gold in a Green Carpet collection of tony styles often worn by stars. “It seemed very complicated in the beginning, and we had to convince everyone in our production to get out of our comfort zone,” explained Caroline.
Once the announcement was made, the distinguished guests who were also on stage weighed in. Julianne Moore was the first to speak.
“As an actress on the red carpet, I have access to lots of beautiful clothes and jewelry—there’s nothing I can’t borrow,” she told the packed audience of journalists. “So, to choose something that has been ethically sourced is a huge luxury. Chopard has just now made their product so much more attractive than anyone else’s because I don’t want to wear anything that has possibly harmed someone or where women in the supply chain weren’t treated fairly.”
An afternoon panel discussion about the importance of jewelers committing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) further touched on the significance of Chopard’s decision. According to panelists, the Swiss brand’s actions put respect for human rights at the heart of how business is done and makes it clear that sustainability is a human rights issue, not just an environmental one.
And as if this pledge to using 100 percent ethical gold weren’t impressive enough, Chopard aims to measure its impact on the ground in an additional commitment to SDGs. An effortless way for others to help make these efforts a success? In stores, ask for Fairmined gold, inquire about ethically sourced gems and metals, and request to see pieces that are helping to write this new narrative of sustainability for jewelry.
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