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Chopard pledges to use 100% ethical gold by July

Nadja Beschetnikova
April 17, 2018

Environmental protection, social responsibility, and sustainability are gaining even greater importance in the fashion world. While clothing brands one after another are making bold statements by banning fur or launching recycling programs, the jewelry industry, in general, stays out of the green movement. Since 2011 only two major brands made headlines in connection with sustainability. De Beers Group has claimed that its Forevermark diamonds were responsibly sourced, and Tiffany & Co. has said it can trace 98 percent of its raw metals directly to a mine or recycler.

The luxury Swiss jeweler Chopard has started to support responsible mining in the artisanal sector a long ago. With its “Journey to Sustainable Luxury”, responsibility has been a core value of the brand since it brought all its jewelry making processes in-house more than 30 years ago. 

The family-run brand began its focus on offering ethical and sustainable products in 2013 when it started to cooperate with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). The company helps gold mines in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru to obtain Fairmined certification. 

In 2014 Chopard made the Palme d’Or trophy for the Cannes Film Festival in Fairmined gold. Today Chopard is the largest buyer of Fairmined gold.

The latest move by the brand was unveiled during Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Fair 2018, which has been filled with vibrant emotions, surprising innovations, and important statements.

Chopard Co-Presidents Caroline and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele announced 22 March that the brand would source most of its gold from refineries certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), starting July 2018. It claims that will make its entire gold supply chain “100% ethical.”

Chopard defines ‘ethical gold’ as gold acquired from responsible sources, verified as having met international best practice environmental and social standards.

Co-president and Creative Director of Chopard Caroline Scheufele said during Chopard’s Conference at the Baselworld: «Gold and gems are not solely a source of happiness: people and the environment can suffer from the consequences of mining and gold refining when these are undertaken irresponsibly».

Just as concerned consumers can trace the sources of fashion and food, certification launched by RJC enables traceability by verifying each stage in the gold supply chain. It guarantees standards on issues as diverse as the freedom of association and the restoration of ecosystems.

Another source, which will be accepted from July 2018, is small-scale mines participating in the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA), which Chopard joined in 2017, Fairmined and Fairtrade schemes.
This then allows the small-scale mining communities to sell their gold at a premium price whilst ensuring mining is undertaken in line with strict environmental and social conditions.

«True luxury comes only when you know the handprint of your supply chain and I am very proud of our gold sourcing programme. As Creative Director of the brand, I am so proud to share the stories behind each beautiful piece to our customers and know they will wear these stories with pride,» said Caroline Scheufele.

However, the standard has come under fire as, according to some experts, it does not yet represent industry best practices. The standard requires the transparency of sources but it does not require companies to conduct human rights assessments on the ground. So, it still leaves a loophole for unscrupulous companies for gold mining under abusive conditions, such as child labor.

But Chopard remains determined: “There are no better standards in the watch industry or the gold supply chain at the present time,” explained Diana Cullilas, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Chopard.

Long-term supporters and friends of Chopard, including Colin Firth and his wife Livia, the founder of the sustainability consultancy Eco Age, Julianne Moore, models and activists Arizona Muse and Noella Coursaris and Chinese singer Roy Wang came to champion the gold landmark announcement.

Chopard has more than 100 stores worldwide, with an annual revenue topping US$800 million.