With more than half of the world's gold mined for jewellery and watches, the steps being taken by luxury brands to be responsible and sustainable are crucial - but are they enough?
Sustainability is one of the biggest trends of our time, and with the spotlight turning increasingly to the fashion and accessories industry, it is clear that purchasing items designed to outlive the season is both a fiscally and environmentally sound decision.
Increasingly, consumers are looking to luxury brands not just as signifiers of style and status, but choosing them because generally speaking, luxury items are well-crafted and will last longer, making them naturally more sustainable than cheap, fast fashion. But brands need to ensure that their production processes live up to close scrutiny.
The luxury watch and jewellery industry has begun to wake up to this and to implement sustainable practices.
Chopard, Piaget and IWC are among the companies that have made well-publicised commitments to ethical sourcing and sustainability. Chopard committed to using ethical gold in all of its jewellery in July 2018 and sources its diamonds and gemstones adhering to a stringent code that respects human rights, labour and environmental issues.
The company is a member of the responsible jewellery council and works with global NGO Alliance for Responsible Mining to support and empower mining communities. It raises the profile of its ethical jewellery through collections such as the Green Carpet Collection, which it showcases at high-profile red carpet events.
Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen is the best-performing company in its sector when it comes to environmental impact, according to a report by WWF Switzerland. The company has demonstrated a consistent commitment to ecologically sound practices and supports organisations that are dedicated to environmental protection.
Piaget meanwhile, sets out a clear mandate for responsible business that focuses on the community, environment, supply chain and its own employees. The company joined the Responsible Jewellery Council in 2006 and is re-certified every three years while promoting a supply chain that is transparent and ethical in respect of human rights and the environment.
Yet, with more than half of the world’s gold used in this sector, in most cases businesses are unable to demonstrate where their gold and other raw materials come from. Far too many luxury watch and jewellery companies are ultimately unable to prove that they are not involved even indirectly in human rights abuses or environmental degradation.
Sustainability isn’t just an opportunity for positive communication, and should not be treated as an add-on to business practice. It should represent the future security and prosperity of a business and as such, should be at the heart of every CEO’s vision.