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Ethical jewellery conversation to continue at CARAT+ 2018


A huge theme emerging from industry activities in Basel is ethics and sustainability, reflecting consumer desire to end any association between exploitation and luxury. Here, CARAT+ reporter, David Brough, reflects on the big issues and explains why the conversation is likely to continue at CARAT+ in May.

Sustainability and ethics are becoming increasingly powerful themes in the global jewellery industry and need to be incorporated vigorously into the business models of companies both large and small.

Studies have shown that so-called ‘Millennial’ consumers are demanding the highest ethical standards in all forms of luxury that they buy. Ethics and sustainability were the overriding focus at Baselworld 2018, where luxury jeweller Chopard announced that it would use exclusively ethical gold from July 2018.

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This includes Fairmined gold, and gold received solely from certified suppliers. At the heart of the concept is that miners are not exploited in the production of the precious metal used to make high luxury products.

Chopard hosted panel discussions on the first day of the Basel-based event in which speakers said that precious jewellery and watches can only be properly enjoyed by consumers if no one was harmed during the production process.

Chopard co-presidents Caroline and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele with famous friends of the brand at Baselworld. Image Credit: Chopard.

“It’s about making sure there is dignity for everyone along the journey,” said human rights lawyer Cherie Blair, a member of a panel on March 22. The Chopard initiative also had the support of Hollywood royalty, with actors Colin Firth and Julianne Moore attending the Chopard announcement (pictured above). 

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Firth’s wife Livia moderated the launch announcement, with a discussion involving the actors about why sustainability and high ethical standards in luxury, were important to them. Moore noted: “I don’t want to wear anything where a human being has been harmed.”

Launched in 2013 in partnership with Eco-Age, The Journey to Sustainable Luxury is Chopard’s commitment to sourcing responsibly and helping the real people in its supply chain who are all too often overlooked.

Launched in 2013, ‘The Journey to Sustainable Luxury’ is Chopard’s commitment to sourcing responsibly and helping the real people in its supply chain. Image Credit: Chopard.

The initiative began with a world-first that saw Chopard forge a philanthropic relationship with the influential South American mining NGO, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). Chopard became the first watch and luxury jewellery company to support and enable gold mining communities to reach Fairmined certification and provide training, social welfare and environmental support.

To date, two mines in Latin America (in Colombia and Bolivia) have now achieved Fairmined certification through Chopard’s direct support.

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) also hosted a discussion panel in Basel on March 24 in which speakers said that companies, both large and small, had to invest in meeting the highest standards of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in order to satisfy the market.

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Diana Culillas, head of CSR at Chopard, said companies need to own up if they make mistakes, and put things right. “There is an unavoidable movement towards transparency (in the supply chain),” she said.

Looking ahead to CARAT+, the Responsible Jewellery Council will continue the conversation as part of the CARAT+ Conference 2018 with a talk hosted by executive director, Andrew Bone, and director of business development, Edward Johnson on Monday, May 7 at 11:00.

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In addition, Katrien De Corte, chief officer of education at diamond grading specialists, HRD Antwerp, will present on new solutions for the identification of synthetic diamonds – an essential component to maintaining customer trust and confidence in the diamond industry. Don’t miss her talk on Tuesday, May 8 at 11:00. 

Words by David Brough


Discover more industry news on the CARAT+ website every week.

CARAT+ is The World’s Premier Diamond Event, covering the full spectrum of the diamond and diamond jewellery trades. The show specialises in four sectors: loose diamonds, branded diamond jewellery, non-branded diamond jewellery and services for the diamond jewellery industry.

Taking place in Hall 1 and Hall 4 of the Antwerp Expo on 6, 7 and 8 May, entry to the show is restricted exclusively to industry professionals, including diamond and jewellery wholesalers and manufacturers from around the world, and jewellery retailers from across Europe and the wider world. 

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