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“In this decade of action, how can we truly bring sustainability to the table?” Auverture roundtable with the Responsible Jewellery Council


A roundtable discussion around sustainability, industry change and the challenges facing smaller brands and independent designers.

“In this decade of action, how can we truly bring sustainability to the table?” Auverture roundtable with the Responsible Jewellery Council 

Auverture recently sat down with Iris Van der Veken from the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) for a roundtable discussion around sustainability, industry change and the challenges facing smaller brands and independent designers. The RJC plays a leading role in mobilising and supporting companies to build a positive impact in their supply chain, by integrating their Code of Practices. They provide a roadmap for continuous development. 

Here we focus on sustainability challenges, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the potential for collaboration. 

The challenge of driving sustainability forward and integrating good practices

Establishing good practices is just the beginning. 

According to Van der Veken: “Every company needs to build sustainability into their strategy. When consumers enter a jewellery store or buy diamonds or gemstones online, they have a right to expect that the company they buy from drives sustainability forward and integrates good practices. Product integrity is non-negotiable.” 

This is a huge challenge for smaller businesses and independent designers. Attempting to make sustainable choices is one thing, driving sustainability forward is an industry-wide challenge. 

Thomas de Haas, Auverture Co-Founder and CEO summed up the challenges faced every day by independent designers across sustainable infrastructures, supply chains and knowledge, sharing: “Accessibility to the right tools and materials is key for independent designers, but it also comes down to a lack of resources too. For small companies, there’s no dedicated compliance team. Restraints on money and time also always plays their part too. We know from those within our community that there’s plenty of willingness, but also a lot of struggle”. 

So, where’s the starting point? 

Defining sustainability and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals 

For many organisations, the first question was always what it meant to be sustainable. How does this fit for the individual nature of their business and industry? 

According to Van der Veken: “The good thing is that there’s now a common denominator which we all agree upon. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” 

By defining what is meant by sustainability and what this could look like, it enables organisations to build it into their frameworks and align with their values. In fact, according to data three years on from the SDGs being created, 72% of organisations mentioned them in their annual corporate or sustainability report. One in two companies have identified priority SDGs. 

While this represents progress, the big question remains how can we measure this? For smaller businesses and independent designers where sustainability might remain a key priority, how can it become more than a goal on paper? Creating an impactful ethos is essential. 

“To support the need to measure impact, the RJC has launched a theory of change and a roadmap to 2030”, says Van der Veken. “We will bring companies along on the journey to find relevant indicators on which to report on.” Collaboration, help and assistance is key to those smaller jewellery innovators realising their goals and achieving their aims in the years to come. 

Collaboration and the potential for grass-roots industry change

It is this notion of collaboration where real industry change can potentially occur. 

“What can we do as a group to make it more accessible?”, questions Auverture Founder Bibi Van Der Velden. “How can we alleviate the stress that this creates for independent designers in a way that benefits them? By working as a group can we take the pressure off their shoulders?”.   

According to Van der Veken: “Often it is the young creators that already have the mentality and aspiration to do things right. By bringing it together, you can build a community of designers who are really committed to building this culture of sustainability as part of their core business strategy. 

“It’s really all about momentum. In this decade of action, how can you collectively bring that to the table?” 

Education is of course critical, as is accessibility. Solo designers have gone through the process with the RJC and while they may feel it’s scary at first, that’s where the support comes in. Collaboration offers real hope for lasting industry change. 

Catering to today’s conscious consumer 

With an unpredictable, changing global landscape and a demanding digital-first and conscious consumer, this change is essential. 

“Conscious consumers want to understand the company more, as well as the values, layers and management systems. How do you illustrate those proof points?”, questions Van der Veken. 

“Before the pandemic, a lot of people were talking about purpose and putting values into action, to create the narrative behind the product. We saw a shift to being a force for good and moving away from just compliance to performance. What I mean by this is that where once companies were just trying to comply with laws and regulations it’s moving completely away from that – from doing no harm, to doing good.” 

By working together and collaborating across the industry, at Auverture we hope to assist our community of independent designers achieve their goals in this decade of change.

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