Caro­line Scheufele

Us­ing only eth­i­cally sourced gold for Chopard’s jew­ellery and watches is just an­other step in the com­pany’s jour­ney to com­plete re­spon­si­bil­ity, its Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Caro­line Scheufele tells Zara Zhuang

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The Kim­ber­ley Process, which cur­tails the flow of rough- cut con­flict di­a­monds, was born in 2000. De Beers’ Forever­mark di­a­monds have been re­spon­si­bly sourced since 2011, the com­pany states. Tif­fany & Co. in­stalled its Chief Sus­tain­abil­ity Of­fi­cer in 2015. In an in­dus­try that is adapt­ing to ex­pec­ta­tions of en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial ac­count­abil­ity, Swiss brand Chopard is the lat­est to de­clare its long-term ded­i­ca­tion to the cause.

Five years after it launched The Jour­ney To Sus­tain­able Lux­ury pro­gramme to cre­ate a more ac­count­able sup­ply chain for gold, Chopard took its com­mit­ment to re­spon­si­bil­ity one step fur­ther, with Creative Di­rec­tor and Co-pres­i­dent Caro­line Scheufele an­nounc­ing in March that it would use only eth­i­cal gold in pro­duc­ing its watches and jew­ellery from July 2018.

Such gold, she says, would be “ac­quired from re­spon­si­ble sources, ver­i­fied as hav­ing met in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial stan­dards”. These com­prise smallscale mines par­tic­i­pat­ing in Swiss Bet­ter Gold As­so­ci­a­tion, Fairmined and Fair­trade pro­grammes, and re­finer­ies ad­her­ing to the Re­spon­si­ble Jew­ellery Coun­cil’s Chain of Cus­tody Stan­dard, which gov­erns the pro­duc­tion of gold, plat­inum, pal­la­dium and rhodium.

Eth­i­cal gold first ap­peared in high jew­ellery un­der Chopard’s Green Car­pet col­lec­tion, un­veiled dur­ing the 2013 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, and made its way into time­pieces via the l.u.c Tour­bil­lon qf the fol­low­ing year.

It took a chance con­ver­sa­tion in 2012 with Livia Firth, Creative Di­rec­tor of sus­tain­abil­ity con­sul­tancy Eco-age and spouse of Academy Award-win­ner Colin Firth, to in­spire her ex­plo­ration of eth­i­cal gold, Scheufele ex­plains dur­ing a re­cent visit to Sin­ga­pore. “I was pretty un­aware, like many of our col­leagues, I sup­pose, of where and how we buy our gold and how we get our raw ma­te­ri­als,” she says. That con­ver­sa­tion “changed a lot about the way I look at things. We should have started look­ing into eth­i­cal gold much ear­lier, but we didn’t re­ally think about it. Of­ten in life, you don’t re­alise some­thing un­til some­body brings it up and you think, ‘ Maybe that’s right.’”

The tran­si­tion has been more fluid than abrupt, she adds, and pro­duc­tion has steadily risen since the mai­son re­ceived its first kilo­grams of eth­i­cal gold from Colom­bia five years ago. At that time, be­sides set­ting up a ded­i­cated chan­nel within

“THIS IS AL­WAYS THE HARD­EST PART – TO CHANGE PEO­PLE’S MINDS, BE­CAUSE IF THEY DON’T BE­LIEVE IN IT, THEY WON’T DO IT” – CARO­LINE SCHEUFELE

the ex­ist­ing pro­duc­tion line to keep eth­i­cal gold sep­a­rate from tra­di­tion­ally mined gold, the com­pany had to ed­u­cate ar­ti­sans in its fac­to­ries of its in­ten­tion to change “not what we do, but how we do it”.

“This is al­ways the hard­est part – to change peo­ple’s minds,” Scheufele con­tin­ues, “be­cause if they don’t be­lieve in it, they won’t do it.”

Though Chopard now needs to de­rive the en­tire 4,000kg of gold it uses each year from cer­ti­fied sources, Scheufele doesn’t see that as a sup­ply short­age wait­ing to hap­pen, and even hopes the in­ter­est in eth­i­cal gold will catch on among more watch and jew­ellery brands. “It should be an in­dus­try­wide stan­dard – that’s the fi­nal goal,” she says. “And if the big mines fol­low, and start do­ing due dili­gence and change the way they mine, there will not be a crunch. That’s why we call it a jour­ney – Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Con­sid­er­ing her Swiss up­bring­ing, mak­ing sus­tain­abil­ity a part of her ca­reer was a nat­u­ral de­ci­sion for Scheufele. “In Switzer­land, re­spect­ing na­ture is a whole phi­los­o­phy of life,” she ex­plains. “My mum would tell me, ‘You can use both sides of a sheet of pa­per when you draw de­signs, so you don’t waste it.’ Yes, I’m pretty green.”

The mai­son is al­ready look­ing to­wards re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing for other as­pects of its jew­ellery and watch ma­te­ri­als, and coloured gem­stones are of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est. Hav­ing in­cor­po­rated Zam­bian emer­alds from min­ing com­pany Gem­fields and re­spon­si­bly sourced Paraiba tour­ma­line from Mozam­bique in its Green Car­pet Col­lec­tion launches, Chopard is work­ing on adding in tan­zan­ite and amethyst in the fu­ture.

Scheufele’s even­tual goal is for ev­ery ele­ment of the brand’s cre­ations to be re­spon­si­bly sourced, she says. It may be a long road, but “we’ll get there, step by step”.

Right: Caro­line Scheufele Be­low: Fairmined gold

Neck­lace and ban­gle from Chopard’s Ice Cube col­lec­tion, crafted from Fairmined gold

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