Geneva, July 2011
Top jewellery brands are failing to meet the growing expectations of customers for ethical sourcing of metals and gemstones, thereby providing opportunities for new brands to emerge, according to an independent report.
Published by Fair Jewelry Action, a non-profit organisation promoting fairly traded jewellery, and strategy advisers Lifeworth Consulting, the report benchmarks ten prestigious jewellery brands on their social and environmental performance. It compares their performance with innovations in the ethical sourcing of precious metal and gemstones, and finds them significantly lagging behind, with the sole exceptions of Cartier and Boucheron, which are recognised for taking useful steps. The research also found that six of the ten brands still offered to sell Burmese rubies from the shop floor in London and Geneva boutiques last year, despite an EU embargo.
One reason for the lack of comprehensive action from prestigious brands is identified as the absence of a positive vision for the ethical role of the jewellery industry. “Although a decade of effort to reduce conflict and environmental damage from jewellery supply chains has curbed some of the worst practices, it has failed to identify an aspirational role for jewellery. Today, the efforts of responsible jewellery pioneers are outlining a vision of ethical excellence,” says report co-author Dr. Jem Bendell. “By comparing the actions of ten luxury brands with this new vision, the report finds luxury jewellery firms risk being left behind in an increasingly aspirational marketplace,” he says.
The report, entitled Uplifting the Earth: the ethical performance of luxury jewellery brands, provides guidance on how brands can move beyond a negative risk management approach to their ethical considerations, and instead use social and environmental issues as a creative inspiration and collaborate to make jewellery a positive force for all involved. “More people recognise something is beautiful if it has been made beautifully, which involves all aspects of its creation. Some in the industry understand that, and need help to get buy-in from their colleagues. This report is for them,” explains report co-author Ian Doyle, of Lifeworth Consulting.
Interviews with international experts identified new brands that embody a new approach to jewellery, including CRED Jewellery, Fifi Bijoux, JEL and Brilliant Earth. Marc Choyt, of Reflective Images Inc and co-founder of Fair Jewelry Action says “The big brands must get their act together if they are not going to lose customers to the companies that really care. They can’t hide behind vague statements or the Kimberley Process any more, because others are showing what’s possible. We can make jewellery that makes a positive difference to the world.”
Uplifting the Earth follows up Professor Bendell’s study for WWF-UK called Deeper Luxury which was widely acknowledged to have inspired the luxury industry to increase efforts on social, environmental and ethical performance.
In the foreword, Maria Eugenia Giron, former CEO of Carrera y Carrera, writes that the report “is an invaluable contribution for wise, forward-thinking executives in our evolving industry.”
The brands benchmarked in the report are: Boucheron, Bulgari, Buccellati, Cartier, Chanel, Chopard, Graff Diamonds, Harry Winston, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels.
The report can be downloaded for free from http://www.lifeworth.com/consult/2011/06/uplifting/
Questions about the report should be directed to Ian Doyle:
Email: idoyle at lifeworth.com