Silver Screen Glamour Meets Ethical Gold For Chopard At The 75th Festival De Cannes
by Anders Modig
The glamour of the red carpet at the Cannes film festival is synonymous with gold and diamonds. And thanks to Chopard – one of the pioneers when it comes to ethical gold – the festival’s Palme d’Or trophy and the brand’s Red Carpet collection are helping to make change in the world by using ethically sourced gold and gemstones.
On May 28, 2022 the Palme d’Or for best film was handed for the second time to director Ruben Östlund for the film Triangle of Sadness at the closing ceremony of the Festival de Cannes. If you look closely at the lower 18-karat gold leaves of the trophy, you will note that one leaf protruding from the bottom of the golden stem is set with 75 diamonds to signify this year’s anniversary of the film festival.
Another leaf sparkles with 25 diamonds – symbolizing Chopard having partnered the most important film festival in Europe for 25 years. The trophy, just like the 2022 Chopard Loves Cinema Red Carpet collection, which consists of 75 pieces of film-inspired high jewelry, highlights the company’s journey toward ethical gold and gemstones, a journey that commenced a decade ago.
During the 12 days of the festival, the collection was seen on red carpets and showcased in the Chopard lounge on the rooftop of the legendary Martinez hotel overlooking the Croisette and the turquoise Bay of Cannes, an oasis of glamour that throughout the duration welcomed collectors, friends, and celebrities including Chopard ambassador Julia Roberts and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor.
“When we started [our ethical journey], many CEOs in the industry were saying, ‘Sounds nice, but impossible.’ They didn’t care. Actually they thought it was a joke – it is not a joke,” said Caroline Scheufele, co-president and artistic director of Chopard. “My love of nature and respect for what I do made me push on, and we have now proven that ethical gold is possible. Since 2018, 100 percent of the gold used by Chopard is certified as ethical. Obviously, we can’t be 100 percent sustainable, we are not there yet. But if everybody makes one little step every day it will change the world.”
What does the term ethical gold mean?
Creating ethical gold is all about controlling the supply chain and ensuring that the metal is mined in a responsible way or recycled. Thanks to organizations like Swiss Better Gold Association, Responsible Jewellery Council, and Fairmined this is possible today.
In Chopard’s case, it means that 40 percent of the gold purchased is from certified RJC Code of Conduct sources; in 2022, 60 percent comes from responsible, artisanal, small-scale mining in Colombia and Peru. Responsible gold initiatives controlled by the above-mentioned organizations have criteria such as fair wages, no human rights violations, and sustainable systems or elimination of heavy metals such as cyanide and mercury, which is often used for separating the gold from the rock.
The companies buying certified gold are also paying a premium price to its mining partners – at the moment, around $1,000 more per kilo of gold (for Swiss Better Gold Association). Thus, responsible gold programs have a positive effect on both mining staff and whole communities. And not only is environmental devastation through heavy metals avoided, the increased income is also used for life-improving investments, including schools and running water.
“At Chopard we carry this extra cost, it does not affect the price to our final customers,” said Scheufele.
Taking such decisions are simpler for a family-owned company with its own foundry creating unique alloys. Chopard is continuously increasing the share from responsible, certified artisanal and small-scale mining. “Yes, recycled gold is already out there and the carbon footprint is lower, but if you only go for recycled gold you turn away from the problems that exist in artisanal, non-certified small-scale mining. So, if you really want to make a change as a brand you should engage directly with the miners,” said Pauline Evequoz, head of corporate sustainability at Chopard.
With companies becoming more and more committed, how does this affect the customers? “We see evolution among customers, but they don’t really ask the questions yet. But when we engage with them on the question, they get very interested,” said Evequoz. “Part of the challenge is to discuss these issues in the boutiques. We will increase the training with salespeople, as they are in contact with final customers. We want to speak about it in a good way, this is a win-win situation, where we want to position ourselves as a responsible jeweler.”
On this theme, the Responsible Jewellery Council, with member companies including Cartier and the Kering Group, communicated the Watch and Jewellery Initiative 2030 in October 2021, which includes near-future implementation of best practices across operations and services, net zero greenhouse gas emissions, investing in high-quality climate projects, and helping vulnerable populations in the watch and jewelry industry value chain.
Chopard’s ethical gemstones
For Chopard, being responsible does not stop at gold. The company also uses ethically certified diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, opals, and Paraiba tourmalines. More types of gemstones are continuously being certified, one of the latest being ruby, which adorned one of the timepieces of the Chopard Loves Cinema Red Carpet Collection presented at the 75th Festival de Cannes.
“I hope more brands will follow,” said Caroline Scheufele. “The consumer needs to know A to Z about how the gold and the gemstones are mined, cut, and polished. That’s what luxury should stand for. Now everybody in the industry needs to follow the trend, the consumers are asking for this – especially the younger generation.”
Dare we hope that Ruben Östlund lifting the latest Palme d’Or into the air – 118 grams of Fairmined 18-karat gold with 100 diamonds set against a block of rose quartz – will be seen as both a celebration of cinema and a new, much-needed ethical standard in the watch and jewelry industry?
For more information, please visit www.chopard.com/intl/responsible-sourcing.