CANNES, France — “Colored gemstones have more value than diamonds, but because they are so rare, they have suffered, and so now we are beginning to put the spotlight back on them,” said Ian Harebottle, chief executive officer of Gemfields, billed as the world’s leading producer of ethically sourced colored gemstones.
The executive joined Geneva-based jewelry brand Chopard to toast its latest Green Carpet collection in Cannes, for which his company provided the emeralds, at a yacht party hosted by Colin and Livia Firth.
“Gemfields’ commitment is really impressive,” remarked Livia Firth, whose Eco Age helped broker the partnership. “They work in one of the most corrupt and complicated places in the world and they never said: ‘You know what, we’ll just let it go,’” she continued, having opted for the perfect sustainable dress: a vintage piece in bleached pink. “It’s from my mom from the Sixties,” she explained, flashing a black-and-white photograph on her iPhone as proof.
According to Harebottle, about 200 million carats of rough diamonds are mined in a given year, of which about 50 million carats are commercialized once the stones have been cut and polished. For emeralds, which are more irregular in shape, the figures stand at about 14 million carats and 4.8 million carats, respectively. “And we are 30 percent of that,” said Harebottle, identifying education as the biggest challenge on the road to sustainability. “It’s not easy to explain to a small artisanal miner that he can actually grow faster when there is more transparency.”
Caroline Scheufele, artistic director and co-president of Chopard, agreed. “It’s all about changing people’s mind-set,” and that is also true for the brands. “I don’t know why other companies are not following the lead. I think luxury is a choice, not a necessity, and so it’s the first thing that should be sustainable.”
Scheufele revealed that although the price of fair-mined gold is ten percent higher than the conventional raw material, the difference is absorbed by the company, “so that it doesn’t get more expensive for the consumer.”
The concept jibed well with Calu Rivero, who joined the lunch party alongside Harvey Weinstein and British TV host Carly Steel. “I’m also vegan, so I believe in the way they think,” the Argentinian star noted, sporting a cream-colored jumpsuit and matching shades by fellow eco-warrior Stella McCartney.
This was the first visit to Cannes for Rivero, who in October is slated to shoot a biopic on singer Sandro aka “the Argentine Elvis.”