by Li Haohan, photos courtesy of Boucheron
- ‘Precious For The Future’, an impact report published in 2022, outlines Boucheron’s sustainability framework and initiatives, covering areas that range from sourcing to operations, and supply chain
- A key focus for the Maison’s sustainability commitment is raw materials – mostly comprising precious metals and stones – which represent 61% of the Maison’s environmental impact
- Responsible sourcing of gold, in tandem with providing support for responsible mining and for the local communities that depend on the industry, is another key objective for Boucheron
- The Maison has gone into sustainable packaging with the ‘No pack is the new pack’ project which was unveiled in 2021
“Sustainability is at the heart of the high jewellery industry,” Hélène Poulit-Duquesne affirms. “No one throws a diamond ring away,” the CEO of Boucheron highlights, “our jewellery is crafted for eternity and passed down through generations.”
Although sustainability has broad applications within the industry and even far-ranging impact on adjacent sectors, her observation is correct. “We feel we have a duty towards the future generations to ensure our jewellery is made in a way that contributes to building a better tomorrow.”
Hélène cites Precious For The Future, an impact report published in 2022, which outlines the Maison’s sustainability framework and initiatives covering areas that range from sourcing to operations, and supply chain. A key focus for the sustainability commitment is raw materials – mostly comprising precious metals and stones – which represent 61% of the Maison’s environmental impact, according to the Environmental Profit & Loss, a tool developed by Kering Group.
Traceable Raw Materials
In particular, Hélène underscores responsible sourcing of raw materials and the support that the Maison provides to the affected communities. “The traceability of our jewellery pieces is incredibly important for us and we are committed to a responsible journey.”
Traceability of diamonds, for instance, is among Boucheron’s first key objectives. Since 2019, they have been working on various pilot schemes and projects that led to the selection, in 2022, of the Sarine Diamond Journey™ Technology, an instrument which enables them to obtain verifiable data from every step of the diamond supply chain—from the mine to the jewellery piece. The solution relies on existing infrastructures and technologies that are already integrated by Boucheron’s partners across the value chain.
“The traceability of our jewellery pieces is incredibly important for us and we are committed to a responsible journey.”
“Ensuring our standards are met in the diamond cutting factory is as important to us as knowing from which mine a stone is coming from,” Hélène emphasises. The Maison is thus able to provide its clients with a fully digitalised custom Boucheron Diamond Certificate, as well as a written assurance of their stones’ quality on a Boucheron certificate.
Responsible & Recycled Gold
Responsible sourcing of gold, in tandem with support for responsible mining and for the local communities that depend on the industry, is another key objective. With the Kering Gold Framework, Boucheron guarantees the use of 100% responsible gold, including 95% of recycled gold, Hélène points out.
The Maison procures gold from artisanal and small-scale mines to support the development of the supply chain and instill a regard for the environment and the labour conditions. It sources 5% of the gold it uses from Fairmined or Fairtrade-certified artisanal mines, enabling it to support small-scale local producers to improve mining practices, such as eliminating the use of mercury, establishing a closed-loop water system, etc.
“We also support these artisanal mining projects through the Kering Precious Metal Fund,” Hélène shares. “Alongside these initiatives, we donate 1% of our gold purchases to the Kering Precious Metal Fund to finance ecosystem regeneration projects. For example, one large-scale, long-term project has been ongoing for several years in French Guiana and is (already) bearing fruit as large mammals are returning to the former mining area.”
Traceable Coloured Gemstones
Improving the traceability of the coloured gemstones is also on the Boucheron sustainability agenda. Most coloured gemstones are extracted from artisanal mines and are harder to trace than diamonds, but this can be addressed with the establishment of a responsible supply chain.
The Maison excludes gemstones originating from territories exposed to conflict as this adversely affects transparency and may lead to financing conflicts. It also collaborates with the industry to meet traceability goals, among them is the Coloured Gemstones Working Group, which unites the gemstones and jewellery industry through shared commitments that catalyse positive change for the people and the planet.
Boucheron has even looked into sustainable packaging with the ‘No pack is the new pack’ project which Hélène unveiled in 2021. The earlier jewellery case was brought into scrutiny, she reveals, and was found to be unsustainable. It has since been replaced with an ecologically sound design developed with support from experts.
With sustainability an important consideration in the creation of Boucheron masterpieces, the Maison is equally committed to bringing forth collections with emotional resonance.
“I envision the future of high jewellery as being more focused on emotions rather than on the status of the pieces themselves,” Hélène says. “Claire (Choisne, the creative director) and I always aim to nurture the emotional storytelling of our collections. For us, it is very important to allow our clients to create their own style, to reveal their uniqueness, and thus to write their own story.”
Over the last five to 10 years, Hélène has noticed the emergence of a new clientele more sensitive to the creativity and the emotional storytelling of the pieces than to the actual value.
“I envision the future of high jewellery as being more focused on emotions rather than on the status of the pieces themselves.”
“That’s what they find in our Carte Blanche collections (unveiled every year in July). They can also be art connoisseurs, and they buy because of Claire’s creative and innovative vision that questions the notions of value, luxury, and opulence and how they are displayed.
“We have clients who follow Claire and buy some of the most incredible pieces, almost like contemporary art collectors. This trend is also linked to the shifting balance toward younger clients, especially in Asia.”