A Seductive Combination Of Diamonds And Sustainability

Carina Legl

… Because we are living in a material world. Am I a material girl when falling for a guy with a business mind, a social heart, and an ecological soul? Mr. Right has been turning my world upside down, straight from the very first day we met a year ago.

… Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. It’s a cliché. Not expensive gifts, rather having his happy, charming, smiling face looking at me is what connects with my heart and soul. However, here I am, waiting for him to propose. Of course, with a ring. Yes, yes – yes, to be seduced by its magic combination of diamonds and sustainability.

All that glitters … May it be ethically sound? Eco-friendly? And environmentally responsible?

Swarovski makes it is possible

Swarovski is a luxury fine jewelry business, and its purpose, strategy, values, and behavior standards are aligned with the United Nations Global Goals.

Austria, with its epic mountain ranges and breathtaking rural landscapes, is home to Mr. Right – and to Swarovski. What sparks my interest: Swarovski’s conscious luxury puts compassion and sustainability at its business heart while respecting people and the environment. The manufacturer and retailer of luxury costume and fine jewelry made from crystal, genuine gemstones, and created stones, as well as finished products, including accessories and lighting solutions, is the global leader in costume jewelry. Representing a 4.7% value share in 2018 and accounting for nearly 26% of total luxury fine jewelry sales with global retail value sales of USD 74 billion, Swarovski’s diamond jewelry is a major force in the industry.

Having a sustainable mindset

In connecting being (values), thinking (knowledge), and doing (competency), Swarovski’s sustainability strategy is aligned with seven of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the 2019 Sustainability Report, the company measures its environmental and social impact while outlining innovations across its supply chain and highlighting its ongoing collaborations and partnerships for changing the jewelry, fashion, and design industries. Striding in sustainability and transparency, Swarovski sees opportunity as consumers increasingly demand ethical and sustainable business practices. In focusing on women’s empowerment, water stewardship, fair partnerships, conscious design, sustainable innovation, and operational sustainability, the company can foment loyalty through effective communication of its efforts:

  • 40% of senior managers in the company’s crystal business are women
  • 76% of Swarovski’s total water demand in 2018 was met with recycled water across its manufacturing and production locations
  • Since its inception in 2015, the Conscious Design Program has provided over 6 million upcycled crystals to emerging designers and design schools
  • Newly installed processes use 20% less chemicals and recycle 90% of the heat produced during the water cycle, while the new drying equipment requires 30% less energy
  • 35% of the company’s energy usage comes from renewable sources at its manufacturing and production locations

Conscious luxury

To increase transparency and improving the way to measure sustainability performance, the company measures the environmental impact of its crystals across their lifecycle using eight key environmental metrics: Global warming, human toxicity (carcinogenic/non-carcinogenic), terrestrial/freshwater/marine ecotoxicity, freshwater eutrophication, marine eutrophication, water consumption, land use, and the formation of fine particulate matter. According to the company’s jewelry material comparison, the diamond is mined with its impact in 6,400 EUR per kilogram of material, making it a responsible choice for customers.

The era of sustainability

While Swarovski aligns its strategic priorities with transparency and sustainability, more and more companies are announcing voluntary commitments to contribute to the United Nations SDGs. While seeing an increase in engagement with SDGs related to social issues, such as gender equality and well-being, corporate investments are expected to focus on environmental goals such as recycling and energy.

This begs the question: How can a company create a sustainability strategy to seduce customers?

A framework for a sustainability strategy

To prioritize investments and actions, with the aim of achieving economic growth and success while ensuring sustainable long-term operations and addressing pressing sustainability issues, here are five steps towards a successful sustainability strategy:

  1. Talk and engage with all stakeholders along the value chain
  1. Assess and prioritize sustainability-related opportunities and risks
  1. Commit and collaborate with partners to accelerate sustainable business innovations
  1. Measure and report with the right metrics to keep the sustainability strategy on track
  1. Educate and communicate the sustainability strategy and achievements

While the luxury fine jewelry industry is moving more and more towards doing good, I will wait for the touch of sustainability until I place a kiss on a hand that asks for mine. And when he does, my social heart and ecological soul will be locked to his forever.

Examine “Three Industries Where Technology Is Reducing Our Carbon Footprint.”

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

Carina Legl

About Carina Legl

Carina Legl is a solution manager at the Retail Industry Business Unit at SAP and a PhD research student at Edinburgh Napier University. Carina guides retail and fashion ecosystems in their shared mission for a sustainable, circular economy as she combines theoretical understanding with best practice to drive strategic customer relations and C-level engagement.