It’s all about sustainable luxury in this day and age. Luxury brands have become more alert and conscious about responsible sourcing. The world of luxury watches always offers a plethora of possibilities for the use of precious stones and metals. But, if you take a deeper look into the sourcing of these beautiful objects, you’ll be surprised to find out that there are quite a few dark spots that you probably never imagined there would be.
In 2013 Chopard launched “The Journey to Sustainable Luxury” project, a commitment to sustainable and ethical practices in partnership. For the initiative, the company teamed up with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). Chopard’s support has included committing to purchasing a substantial portion of the cooperative’s gold which is certified as “Fairmined”—and utilizing it in their collections. The gold has been extracted in a responsible manner and the miners receive a fair price for their work along with contribution to training, social well-being and environmental protection. “It is a bold commitment,” says Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, “but one that we must pursue if we are to make a difference to the lives of people who make our business possible.”
The Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon was the first piece from the brand to use this gold. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s long-term aim is for the entire L.U.C collection to be made in ethical gold. The dream has taken wings with the L.U.C Tourbillon QF Fairmined in 2014, but there is a long path ahead. Other watchmakers too are not behind. Zeitwinkel, an independent brand producing modern wristwatches with in-house movements has produced one of its most complicated watches, the 273o in Fairmined rose gold.
The Better Gold Initiative, a Swiss-sponsored responsible mining initiative offering artisanal gold miners direct access to markets, better environmental respect and more transparency, needs to be mentioned here as well. It is a Private-Public-Partnership between the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA), a group of major refiners and jewelers, alongside Max Havelaar Switzerland, a fair trade organization, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO. Switzerland’s involvement in the initiative stems from its key role in the international gold trade, and obviously keeping the demands for use of gold in watches in mind.
In 2015, Chopard continued to lead the watch and jewellery industry with the announcement of its new partnership with PX Précinox SA, a Swiss gold refinery company, to establish the first commercial export route for Fairmined Gold from Bolivia.
In just a few months, two more gold mines reached Fairmined certification: one in Bolivia and the other in Colombia with Chopard pledging to buy 100% of the Fairmined gold extracted by those mines.
So really what does this partnership mean?
Chopard and PX Précinox see the gold exported and refined using the PX Précinox fully segregated ‘track and trace’ processing system, a process where Fairmined Gold is separated from standard material throughout the refining process. The Fairmined gold’s final destination is Chopard’s workshops in Geneva, making it fully traceable from mine to product. Both Chopard and PX Précinox are certified members of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) fully adhering to the RJC Code of Practices. More and more watchmakers are firmly on the journey to sustainable luxury, using their own standards and ways of adhering to external certifications, but ensuring that their sourcing becomes more responsible and ethical.