Ethical gold rush: Consumers rank conscience over carats

Growing volumes of evidence show consumers are seeking out brands and products underpinned by socially responsible business practices showing ethical gold.

A well-cited study, conducted by Ipsos Mori in 2015, reported more than 80% of consumers surveyed thought a retailer’s ethical standards mattered to them. Over a third of customers reported their consumer behaviour would extend to paying more for products that had demonstrated higher ethical standards.

But when it comes to gold and jewellery, it’s not always easy for consumers to pinpoint ethical products and supply chains. There can be difficulties obtaining background information, sourcing product availability and considering any extra cost of ethical products.

French luxury group Kering reports buying more than 3.5 tonnes of responsibly produced gold for its Boucheron, Dodo and Gucci brands since 2015, and they have committed to 100 per cent ethical gold by 2020.

The group reports strong demand for its high-end gold jewellery products, and has developed the Kering Ethical Gold Framework to ensure its gold buying process is based on a system of traceability, with a cost that is acceptable to the brands.

In contrast, some smaller brands are taking a direct route and making personal connections with suppliers to manage and measure authenticity of their gold products and supplies.

At an industry-wide level, initiatives have sprung up over recent years to monitor and acknowledge ethics and sustainability. These initiatives give consumers confidence that their gold purchase is supporting health communities and sustainable environments.

However, just like gold, not all initiatives and certifications are equal.

Read more to learn about the differences >

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