Fair or recycled gold, synthetic gems, lab-grown diamonds … The jewelry industry deals with the depletion of natural resources. At ExJewel, we wanted to make sure that everybody is aware of all the changes that are being done regarding the sourcing of precious metals and stones.
Chopard created a global buzz by announcing that from mid-July 2019, it would exclusively use ethical gold for its watches and jewelry. In concrete terms, the Swiss luxury label has undertaken to acquire its precious metal from responsible suppliers, meeting the best environmental and social standards. Namely, artisans from small mining communities attached to official organizations, through the Fairmined and Fairtrade programs, or from a refinery in the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) sector.
The idea of ethical jewelry is thus starting to gain ground with the big names in luxury. Every home is well aware that diamonds are not forever. Without forgetting that customers are more and more aware of sustainable development and the origin of raw materials. Thus, at LVMH, all the brands in the watches & jewelry business sector are RJC certified. They are increasingly sourcing diamonds from sustainable industries. In 2017, 98.5% of the diamonds purchased were RJC certified. Particularly committed, Bulgari even became in 2015 the first company on its market to obtain the Chain of Custody certification implemented by the RJC for gold. With the recent acquisition of US-giant Tiffany & Co., LVMH stands closer to its goal of controlling the jewelry industry.
An opportunity for Kering
At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Kering’s François-Henri Pinault Shares a Radical New Vision of Sustainability. “The group’s strategy is based on a vision carried for more than fifteen years by its CEO, François-Henri Pinault, who is convinced that development sustainability is both an ethical necessity and an economic opportunity, but also a factor of leadership and stimulation of creativity. The share of responsible gold purchases increased from 15% in 2015 to 57% in 2017 ”, says Marie-Claire Daveu, Director of Sustainable Development and International Institutional Relations at Kering.
JEM: Jewellery Ethically Minded
This trend also concerns recycled gold, which is more and more commonly found in jewelry. As it undergoes a series of treatments, it costs about 15% more than traditional gold (Usually it is 15% more expensive if you buy an ounce of gold. Obviously, This is not true for 100 ounces or 200 of gold). This impact necessarily has repercussions on the final price. But the public is sensitive to the approach and some brands have understood that it was also good for their image. The young label Jewelry Ethically Minded (JEM), which advocates awareness and transparency, was born under the leadership of Dorothée Contour. The young woman had anticipated this new industrial reality: “We want to try to bring out sustainable, conscious and far-sighted jewelry. Create jewelry with kindness, respecting a mission and ethical progress. Take a new look at jewelry, without depriving it of the poetry and grace that compose it. JEM is the first French jewelry house to be involved in the Fairmined sector by placing sustainable development at the heart of its business model.
MENE: 24-carat gold
Same goal for Mené, a brand new brand that intends to revolutionize the gold business. The company exclusively uses ultra-pure 24-carat gold, the prices of which are calibrated to those of the market, with a small margin for design. Under the leadership of Roy Sebag and artistic director Diana Widmaier Picasso, this very young house is betting on 100% ethical and transparent jewelry.
Golpira, the German gold nugget brand blending modern aesthetics with classic references, uses 80% recycled gold and 20% Fairmined certified gold from Finland. Each gold nugget is unique, the creator leaving them in their rough state as researchers have found them.
If the young brands carry their ethical commitment on the shoulder, the historic players are also adjusting their standards to stay in the race. “With regard to gold, diamonds, and stones, the Kering group aims to reach 100% responsible gold by 2025, coming from several eligible sources that combine RJC certified chain of Custody gold with gold from Fairmined or Fairtrade certified artisanal mines. Gold from mines that have banned the use of mercury in their extraction processes” continues Marie-Claire Daveu.
The Nuvola collection, the first 100% responsible collection at Pomellato, was launched in 2018. It uses sourced gold extracted from Fairmined certified mines in Colombia and colored diamonds and stones with full traceability. This approach also affects precious stones. Faced with growing demand and drying up of mines, some brands are turning to synthetic gems made … in laboratories. A few years ago, Pomellato had been a pioneer in releasing the “Rouge Passion” collection with scarlet synthetic stones. The initiative had gnashed teeth in the sacrosanct microcosm of jewelry. But it was resumed.
Inside the Diamond terror: Can we call lab-grown diamonds green?
“Lab-grown diamonds have the same properties as mined natural diamonds”
With the recent lab-grown diamond production on France’s soil with DiamConcept, it became harder for french luxury brands not to follow this major trend. Everybody is talking about it: You may use it or not, you need to face it. It is hitting the market like never seen before. Young customers are more attracted to their -60% price off.
Courbet: Place Vendome is challenged once again!
If today nobody is offended when we speak of cultured pearls, it will still take time for the cultured diamond to gain its acclaim and conquer the greatest jewelers. “Manuel Mallen, founder and president of the young Courbet brand, which uses only recycled gold and laboratory diamonds, dreams of taxing synthetic diamonds in Place Vendôme.” Even though it is the first real luxury French brand hoping to hit the luxury standards of the Place Vendome, it created tension on other major actors.
Swarovski reveals the new lab-grown diamond collection!
Swarovski, the renowned Austrian crystal jewelry, has been in production for 125 years, yet still strives to remain ahead of the curve. In 2015, it was one of the first Western jewelers to open a store on Tmall, which helped lay the groundwork for the brand’s increased market share in China’s lucrative crystal market. Now, Swarovski aims to be a leader in sustainable practices. ”Swarovski has just unveiled a fine jewelry line based on Peruvian ethical white gold and cultured diamonds. Made from carbon, they display the same hardness and shine as traditional diamonds, but have less impact on nature. Certified synthetic diamonds, negotiated 40% cheaper than gems that come out of the bowels of the earth, share their physical, chemical and optical characteristics.
Generations Y and Z, soon to be the world’s most numerous consumers, are concerned about responsibly sourced and sustainable products. Advocates say tracing gold from mine to jewelry customers could help guarantee provenance, improve the lives of miners and reduce carbon emissions. Is Blockchain the New Ethical Gold Rush?