Friday, March 24, 2023

Sustainability and the World’s Rarest Gems: Chopard’s New Collection


Swiss watch and jewelry label Chopard says its latest responsibly sourced and sustainable collection is part of its continued homage to the planet.

A stunning new collection from Chopard that includes a 6,226-carat rough emerald, the Chopard Insofu, builds on the maison’s sustainability commitments that inform all areas of its business.

Insofu was discovered in an open-pit mine in Zambia—collected from 500-million-year-old strata. The piece’s shape resembles an elephant’s trunk.

“It’s profoundly moving to be confronted with the beauty and mystery of such a treasure, collected from the depths of the Earth, formed millions of years ago, and which has come to us at last to be enhanced by the hand of artisans who will reveal the full extent of its beauty while transcribing the emotions it arouses,” Co-President and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele said during the presentation of the Exceptional Stones Collection at Paris Haute Couture Week.

The collection also includes a 10.88-carat Rose of Caroline pink diamond, a Toi et Moi ring set with a 3.01-carat pear-shaped diamond and a 4.10-carat intense blue diamond, and a 31.31-carat ‘dark grey greenish yellow’ oval-cut chameleon diamond.

Traceability for colored gemstones

While the Kimberly Process governs diamonds, colored gemstones have no international regulations to guarantee traceability or mining conditions. But the Responsible Jewellery Council, of which Chopard is a member, has included colored gemstones in its certification scope since 2019. The maison also joined the Coloured Gemstones Working Group in 2019—an alliance between the world’s leading luxury jewelry brands and gemstone mining companies aimed at improving sustainability and traceability in the industry.

Image courtesy Chopard

Chopard has been leading the industry toward responsible and sustainable sourcing practices for years, a move initiated by Sheufele. It includes the label’s Journey to Sustainable Luxury, which it launched nearly a decade ago. It’s a long-term program aimed at ensuring responsible sourcing throughout the supply chain.

“Given that every material generates different environmental and social impacts, we apply due diligence in compliance with international standards, always seeking robust certifications and membership requirements to ensure that key material issues and related risks are properly addressed,” the company says. “Our materials are sourced in line with the requirements of the Chopard Code of Conduct for Partners, which covers a wide range of environmental and social criteria.”

Sustainable, traceable gold

In 2018, the maison announced that it would only work with gold that it could verify had come from ethical sources. It was the first major luxury jewelry house to make such a commitment. The industry has quickly followed with recycled and sustainably sourced metals now the default for brands like Cartier and Tiffany & Co.

“As a family-run business, sustainability, responsibility and ethics have always been an important part of our family philosophy,” Scheufele told EuroNews in 2019. “Naturally, we have always put ethics at the heart of the values of Chopard.”

Scheufele says a meeting with Livia Firth, the Eco-Age founder, was an a-ha moment when she learned there was no gold traceability within 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,” she says.

By 2018, 100 percent of Chopard’s gold was ethically sourced.

The luxury jeweler partnered with the Swiss Better Gold Association in what was a groundbreaking project at the time to source gold sustainably from Barequeros in El Chocó, Colombia. Despite being the nation’s second-largest gold producer, it’s one of the country’s poorest regions. The partnership includes full traceability on all gold. It also helps boost the impoverished community.

Chopard works with artisanal miners in the region; half are women. Their mining techniques are traditional and avoid the use of mercury and other chemicals that pose threats to human health and biodiversity in the region.

Earth-focused collections

With traceability and sustainability in mind, Chopard has leaned into nature-themed collections. In 2020, its collection for the 73rd Cannes Film Festival highlighted flora and fauna motifs. And the Palme d’Or prize, designed by Chopard, has been made with certified ethical gold since 2014.

It’s not just gold that’s sustainable for the maison. Its ultra-resistant Lucent Steel A223 was four years in development. It’s made from repurposed steel and is 50 percent more scratch-resistant than conventional steel, the company says.

Like other jewelry houses, Chopard has discovered a growing consumer interest in sustainable, traceable, and ethical jewelry. De Beers published a survey last year with similar findings—not only are consumers more interested in supporting ethical jewelry, but they are willing to pay a premium for it, too.

With its latest collection, Chopard says Insofu, which is the Bemba word for elephant, is an expression of the maison’s sustainable luxury, as well as its traceability and awareness initiatives.

“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,” Scheufele said. “

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,” she says.

“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.”


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