Interview with Caroline Scheufele
Chopard’s co-president and artistic director talks to us about why ‘green’ gold is special
Being the first watch and jewellery company to present pieces made from Fairmined gold, Chopard has taken an important step in its journey towards sustainable luxury. Since last year’s Cannes Festival, when the company presented its 25-piece Green Carpet collection of high jewellery, Chopard has been deepening its commitment to ethical and environmental practices in jewellery and watch production.
At the recent Baselworld fair, the company presented the L.U.C Tourbillon QF Fairmined gold watch and announced that it had begun supporting a mining community in Columbia attain Fairmined certification, where gold is mined in a responsible manner and where workers are given fair payment. The company has also been working alongside the Alliance for Responsible Mining to provide social welfare, education and training to mining communities in South America. In a chat with the jewellery brand’s co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele, we discover why sustainable production has become so important in the world of watches and jewellery.
Hong Kong Tatler: Can you tell us more about the mine you are working with in Columbia?
Caroline Scheufele: It’s a family-owned cooperative, therefore it’s not teeming with a lot of workers. At the moment, they have about 400 people working there. We have guaranteed to take the entire mine’s output for the next two years, which works out to be approximately 80 kilograms a year.
HKT: What does this mean for the mine workers and their families?
CS: It means security: they have an assured salary and secure working environment, and we are 100 per cent sure that the gold is mined in the proper way. We have a fixed price for the gold, which is probably a bit more expensive than what you can get from banks and current stock, but I think it’s the right step forward. We have the whole supply chain, from the gold to the refinery, and we can control how the gold is refined, so no mercury is used—nothing to spoil nature.
HKT: Are pieces made of Fairmined gold more expensive?
CS: No, we are absorbing the extra costs. We don’t want the client to pay more because of Fairmined certification, even though there is extra value added to the piece as it is A-to-Z traceable. It is the ultimate luxury to know where your piece began and was finished.
HKT: What’s the next step? Do you plan on working with other mines?
CS: There is an association called Alliance for Responsible Mining who are now certifying another mine in Peru. As soon as they receive ARM certification, we will do exactly the same with that mine as we have done in Columbia. We want to expand the world of responsible mining by involving more mines and bigger quantities of production. The current quantity of 80 kilograms is quite small, but we still managed to create 25 pieces for the Green Carpet high jewellery collection, and my brother managed to do the L.U.C Tourbillon QF watch in a limited edition of 25 pieces, so just imagine what we’d be able to do if quantities were higher. Next year, we have plans to extend the use of Fairmined gold to the bridal collection as well. We believe it would be wonderful added value for couples getting married.