© Written by Rachael Taylor for Luxure
With just the right blend of self-deprecation and assured glamour, Cate Blanchett shimmies her way through a humorous Golden Globes acceptance speech. Ripples of laughter are batted away with a knowing look and a flux of sparkle from her diamond earrings, but little does the approving audience know that this moment has the potential to be life-changing for families in need, 4,500 miles south of their plush Hollywood seats.
For the red-carpet jewels that the Blue Jasmine star wore to pick up the award for 2014’s Best Actress were from the Chopard Green Carpet Collection. And locked within the swirling fronds of 72 marquise-cut diamonds and 18-carat white gold was not just the glamour and heritage of an iconic maison, but a promise to make the world a better place. Chopard was bringing to a global stage Fairtrade gold mined in South America, set with ethically sourced diamonds.
‘Green Carpet’ has become a popular buzz phrase in recent years, with ethically created fashion and accessories gaining exposure on the world’s red carpets. Leading the way in this concept has been Livia Firth, the creative director of the sustainability consultancy Eco Age, the wife of the film star Colin Firth and, as of 2009, the founder of the Green Carpet Challenge (GCC). Just as its name suggests, it challenges celebrities to choose ethically sound red-carpet outfits and persuades fashion houses to create them.
By 2013 the GCC had picked up some serious traction and in March of that year Livia Firth decided to launch the GCC Brand Mark, teaming up with Gucci to put its stamp on a line of bags made from Amazonian leather that were certified to have caused zero deforestation – a world first. This was followed six months later by another first when the Green Carpet Capsule Collection was launched, comprising designs by Christopher Bailey, Erdem, Christopher Kane, Roland Mouret and Victoria Beckham.
While Firth was busy being a force for good in the fashion business, at the same time Chopard had independently been doing its part to improve ethical practices in its own industry. The fine jewellery world is a rarefied one of luxury and privilege, but while the craftsmanship and quality of finished pieces is highly prized, often little thought is given to the origins of the raw materials. It was here that Chopard’s owners, the Scheufele family, realised that they could make a real difference. By investigating the sources of their diamonds and gold and making responsible choices, they could create better opportunities for miners, and by working with organisations on the ground in these communities they could help to improve the lives of those responsible for bringing the ingredients for luxury jewels to daylight.
The first step was to sign up to the Responsible Jewellery Council, a body designed to bring clarity to the jewellery supply chain by insisting that members must only work with suppliers trading
in an ethical manner. Since joining in 2010, Chopard has faced an intensive auditing process to verify the strength of its supply chain, and passed all tests to become fully certified in 2012. With its house in order, it was time for Chopard to harness some of the immense power that comes with being a leading global luxury brand, and use it for good. So Chopard turned to the expertise of Livia Firth and Eco Age and together the two companies plotted a new sustainable, ethically minded strategy for the business, dubbed The Journey.
One step in this plan is, of course, the Green Carpet Collection, which bears the GCC Brand Mark, making Chopard one of just a handful of elite early adopters. By choosing to use Fairtrade Fairmined gold to create the collection, Chopard is ensuring that the miners who bring the gold out of the earth are guaranteed to receive a minimum price for the gold as set by the Fairtrade Foundation, as well as a premium on top of this to put towards local community projects such as clean water sources, schools and healthcare facilities. By becoming Fairtrade-certified, the miners must adhere to strict standards on working conditions, which mean improved health and safety in the mines and reduced environmental impact, as well as eradicating child labour and ensuring proper rights for women.
Another element of The Journey is a partnership Chopard has initiated with the Alliance of Responsible Mining that financially commits the maison to helping impoverished mining
communities in South America to achieve Fairtrade certification. As well as funding the formalisation of these mining communities, Chopard plans to report regularly on its progress as a way to raise awareness of the issues and place the maison at the vanguard of ethical luxury jewellery.
Then, in 2014 Chopard unveiled the world’s first watch made of Fairtrade Fairmined gold, an elegant LUC Tourbillon QF. It has plans to release more new Fairtrade collections at BaselWorld, the world’s biggest watch and jewellery fair, which takes place in Switzerland in March 2015. ‘As a century-old, family-run business, we are very aware of our responsibilities in our journey to sustainable luxury,’ says Chopard’s co-president and artistic director, Caroline Scheufele. ‘It is not an easy journey, but it is the right one, and The Journey is the start of a very exciting new multi-year programme that will ensure we are working towards our goal of sustainable jewellery.’
From the Academy Awards to the Cannes Film Festival, Chopard will be heralding its Green Carpet champions of 2015, ensuring that the brand’s ethical high jewellery will be right there in the spotlight, reflecting the flashes of a thousand cameras, and the world will be all the better for it.