Why is Recycled and Ethical Gold Trending with Global Jewellery Brands?

By 2025, Pandora, the world’s largest jewellery brand by volume will stop using newly mined silver and gold in its jewellery and only buy from recycled sources to meet its sustainability goals. Global brands like Prada, Chopard and even Tiffany & Co. are going the extra ‘green’ mile to appeal to customers who are increasingly becoming more conscious of the impact that their jewellery purchases have on the environment. Our special correspondent Shilpa Dhamija reports.

According to a McKinsey report, within the next three years, an estimated 20 to 30% of global fine jewellery sales will be influenced by sustainability-conscious customers and ethical sourcing practices. A trend that is visibly impacting the marketing strategies of global jewellery makers.

“Younger consumers really care about corporate social responsibility,” says Lelio Gavazza, head of sales and retail at Bulgari, in the McKinsey report. “In the past, people assumed big brands did the right thing. That was enough, unless revealed (that) it wasn’t the case. What’s changing now is that you’re required to do things, to share what you’re doing, and to prove it. That’s changing in a very, very rapid way. Also, when it comes to the environment, you must express your intentions and show that you walk the talk,” Cyrille Vigneron, CEO, Cartier adds.

In 2022, Prada, a popular international luxury brand, launched a special jewellery collection targeted specifically at the conscious buyer. Prada’s ‘Eternal Gold’ jewellery collection uses 100% certified recycled gold. “This radical transparency on origins, sourcing and production chains gives a modern consciousness to fine jewellery, shifting outdated industry standards to mirror societal change,” says Prada.

© Prada

The Italian brand is also using blockchain technology to ascertain the authenticity of its sustainable jewellery. The journey of each jewellery piece from the Eternal-Gold collection will be accessible by Prada’s clientele, allowing them to trace the provenance of every aspect.

One of the world’s most revered jewellery brands Tiffany & Co is also on a mission to source its raw materials responsibly. According to the brand, 100% of the raw precious metals that it sourced directly in fiscal year 2020, were traceable to mines in the United States or from recycled sources.

By 2025 Tiffany & Co. is aiming to achieve 100% traceability of all the gold, silver and platinum that it uses in its jewellery, including those manufactured by its third-party suppliers.

Recently, Pandora, a jewellery company that generated sales of EUR 3.1 billion in 2021, announced that it no longer uses mined diamonds. The Danish company launched a 33-piece collection in 2022 that includes rings, bangles, necklaces and earrings, crafted entirely with recycled silver and gold. The collection is sold in Pandora’s 269 stores in the US and Canada.

© Pandora

By shifting entirely to recycled silver and gold in all its jewellery by 2025, the brand claims that it can save 37,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) a year. This equates to more than the annual electricity use of 6,000 homes or driving 145 million kilometres in a car, according to Pandora.

In Oct 2022, several key associations in the gold industry, convened by London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and World Gold Council came together to sign a ‘declaration of responsibility and sustainability principles’ which formally expresses a shared commitment to operating in a responsible and sustainable way based on a clear set of shared goals.

Indian Gold Policy Centre (IGPC), Indian Bullion and Jewellery Association (IBJA), Indian International Bullion Exchange (IIBX) were some of the signatories to this declaration. In all, this group agreed on ten key sustainability objectives, including commitments to responsible sourcing standards, respect for Human Rights and action and disclosures on climate change.

The evolution of the jewellery industry to recognise and take action on its varied effects on the environment is not entirely a new trend. It is only picking up pace among jewellery makers, now, to align with the sentiments of mindful & conscious consumers.

Chopard was one of the first luxury brands to publicise its use of ethically sourced gold. From 2018 onwards, Chopard claims to have used 100% ethical gold in its jewellery and watch creations. “True luxury comes only when you know the handprint of your supply chain and I am very proud of our gold sourcing programme,” says Caroline Scheufele, Co-President and Creative Director of Chopard.

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