May 17 2014, 8:03am CDT | by Forbes
At this month’s Cannes International Film Festival, event sponsor Chopard will, as always, showcase a dazzling parade of jewelry and watches on the red carpet, but this year, a few pieces will reflect a hint of green. For the 67th edition of the Festival, Chopard debuted a pair of earrings made with a delicate lacework of Fairmined white gold set with 13.49 carats of pear-cut, brilliant-cut and marquise-cut diamonds. The earrings are the latest addition to its Green Carpet Collection, which is sourced, designed and crafted according to rigorous benchmarking standards established by the Green Carpet Challenge, a venture founded by Livia Firth (wife of actor Colin Firth) that promotes ethics in the luxury fashion market. Chopard also used the ethically and sustainably produced Fairmined gold from certified mines in Colombia to make this year’s Palme d’Or trophy, awarded to the best film in the official selection.
“It’s basically like Fair Trade coffee,” said Guy Bove, Chopard’s director of product development, at this year’s Baselworld Fair, where the brand introduced its first Fairmined gold watch, the L.U.C Tourbillon QF Fairmined. “We buy gold directly from certified mines, of which there are very few at the moment. We have partnered with an NGO, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), which is working with mines to get certified, so we can increase the proportion of Fairmined gold we use.” The Alliance works to enable mining communities in Latin America to reach Fairmined certification, which provides clear channels to market and fair compensation to the miners. The gold is issued with a Fairmined certificate to ensure that it was produced in accordance with the highest social, environmental, and ethical standards, and it is refined in a special foundry to ensure it is traceable from mine to market.
Currently, Chopard has access to only 2 kilos of Fairmined gold per month, so the products are limited to 25 watches and some high jewelry pieces. But the brand intends to eventually buy a significant portion of its gold from Fairmined cooperatives in South America, with plans to support new ones in achieving Fairmined certification. “Hopefully one day, it won’t just be the standard for gold use in the luxury industry, it will be the standard for mining gold as a whole,” adds Bove.
Dubbed The Journey to Sustainable Luxury, Chopard’s initiative to commit to suppliers who use responsible social and environmental practices, debuted in Cannes last year. The first Green Carpet Collection jewels were a pair of earrings worn by Marion Cotillard, followed by a necklace introduced at the Venice Film Festival. After Cate Blanchette wore Green Carpet earrings to this year’s Golden Globes, where she won the best actress award for her role in Blue Jasmine, Chopard sold seven pairs. Since 2010, Chopard has also been a certified member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), an environmental, social, and ethical standard-setting organization.
The Journey to Sustainable Luxury grew out of a 2012 exchange between Chopard Co-President Caroline Scheufele and Firth, who is the creative director of Eco-Age, which consults with companies to develop sustainable strategies. Firth inquired where Chopard’s gold was sourced, and Scheufele realized that because they were purchasing ingots from a bank they could not attest to its origins. The brand partnered with Eco-Age to develop sustainable best practices that touch on every aspect of the business—from sourcing raw materials to selecting special papers for catalogs to limiting water waste in production. While these strategies involve Chopard’s operations around the world, in Cannes, it’s all about turning the red carpet green.
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