WINDS OF CHANGE
Eco-warrior Livia Firth speaks to Charmaine Ho about sustainability and Chopard’s groundbreaking commitment to using only ethical gold
You founded Eco-Age, a consultancy that specialises in sustainability. Tell us more about the work you do at the company.
At Eco-Age, we have three levels.We have our proper business clients [for whom] we create, implement and communicate sustainability strategies. We are also activists who create advocacy campaigns that make people understand the importance of shifting [their mindsets]. For example, we created the #30wears campaign on Instagram that asks people if they will wear something a minimum of 30 times; to make them understand that it’s also a matter of how much they buy.Then, we also act on a level where we devise tools like the Green Carpet Awards in Italy and the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, and involve countries in [sustainable] programmes.
You first started working with Chopard in 2012 and today, the company has announced its commitment to use 100 percent ethical gold for the production of all its designs.
It’s an incredible achievement! When we started the journey to sustainable luxury, the primary focus was on gold because it’s the common raw material across jewellery and watches. So we started a strategic alliance with the Alliance of Responsible Mining (ARM), [an organisation in South America] that works with small-scale mining communities to take them to Fairmined certification. But what Chopard did was to also invest in the mines that hadn’t achieved the certification yet, so that ARM could then train them to achieve the certification. So actually, thanks to their support, Chopard has directly impacted communities and brought a lot of these mines to certification.We never thought in our wildest dreams that we would be able to reach this huge target in just five years.That, and the fact that this is a family-owned business; they can make decisions very quickly. They have been truly extraordinary.
What can consumers do to show their support for sustainability in jewellery?
I always say: Every time you buy, you are voting and showing your support for something. So make it matter.
If you had just one hope for sustainability, what would it be?
That we won’t need to define it anymore. Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food [International], says it best: How did we arrive in an era where we have to certify things that should be normal? So my only hope is that in the future, ethical, sustainable practices are the norm. And what is not normal will have a huge red label that says: Unethical. ■
Clockwise from top left: Livia Firth (right) with Chopard Co-President, Caroline Scheufele (left). Jewellery and a watch from Chopard’s Green Carpet Collection using Fairmined white gold, responsibly mined emeralds from Gemfields’ Kagem mine in Zambia, and diamonds from a Responsible Jewellery Council supplier