While Cartier boasts high social, environmental, and ethical standards on its website, I feel as though they have neglected some details about their actual processes that might compromise their spotless image. Their environmental commitment section promises to “minimize” the use of toxic materials during production, as well as negative effects on the environment. Minimizing and eliminating are two vastly different ideas, and since they do not share much information about their manufacturing process, it can be hard to track their progress. Although there is clearly work to be done to earn Cartier a perfect rating, I believe that they are on the right path, especially since they are creating luxury products that are meant to last a lifetime and beyond. Today, the Cartier Love Ring in yellow gold rings up at a whopping $1,820; is it worth the price? Let’s investigate.
Each Cartier Love Ring is made with 18-karat yellow gold, stamped with AU750 on the inside of the ring. This basically means that the ring actually only contains 75% gold, but the other 25% is another metal, usually platinum. On the website, Cartier did not specify what the other metal is. Notably, 90% of the gold that Cartier uses is recycled, which is limiting the amount of environmental damage caused by mining. Gold mining is one of the most destructive metal mining processes in terms of displacing communities, polluting waterways, and damaging ecosystems, so it is important to note that Cartier does consume about 10 tons of gold per year. The Love Ring in yellow gold is intended to have an extremely long life cycle, and Cartier already recycles gold, so you can expect to receive a ring composed of mostly recycled gold.
The gold is extracted mainly from the Eurocantera mine in Honduras, which Cartier declares is a model for high social, ethical, and environmental standards that align with the Cartier values. Eurocantera does not use cyanide or mercury to extract the gold, which is usually a huge component of toxic gold mining. Cartier only obtains 5% of its gold from Eurocantera, and it must be transported from Honduras to Switzerland. They say that the gold is ethically sourced in Honduras, which aligns with the Cartier environmental, social, and ethical commitments. That being said, Cartier’s mines are subject to third-party audits, so it is unclear how rigorous the judging of the mine conditions are. Furthermore, while they used to have two sources published, they no longer publish their gold or diamond suppliers online, which is not very transparent. Are they hiding something?
Cartier is minimizing any residual negative effects by using 90% recycled gold... which is certainly a step in the right direction but may not be dedicated enough. Cartier Love Rings are made at a manufacturing plant in Switzerland, where molten gold is poured into a cast and stamped with a unique barcode. This process involves heating up the gold until it melts, which inherently emits GHG. Cartier is very private about their specific manufacturing process because of their luxury status, but in general, the melted gold is poured into a premade wax cast which does not appear to have any significant environmental impacts. Cartier has been carbon neutral since 2009, demonstrating its environmentally-conscious practices and values in the manufacturing process. Overall, the manufacturing process has a few flukes, but it seems like Cartier is taking the extra step to remain carbon neutral and mitigate any damage that they’re causing in the process while recycling most of their resources.
The Cartier Corporate Responsibility Policy states that Cartier will not tolerate child labor or forced labor in both the manufacturing process as well as the supply chain. Similarly, it asserts its support for the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, to which it “ensures compliance”, and does not discriminate against its employees as stated in the policy. However, it was not clear how much information they released about the human conditions at sourcing sights from the third-party auditor, so there is a lack of transparency in this area. Furthermore, the fact that they use a third-party auditor is sketchy because they have less control over the validity of the audits and true conditions at the mines. I would like for Cartier to clarify who is monitoring to ensure that they are up to standards.
In terms of the Cartier environmental commitments, the brand states that it will conduct business “in an environmentally responsible manner”, including disposing of waste properly to avoid pollution, managing their water and energy use, and minimizing any practices that are consequential to the environment. Not only does Cartier strive for the protection of its employees and utilizing only fair labor, but it prioritizes the commitment to remaining carbon natural and reducing their impacts even further. Cartier Philanthropy invests in women and children in developing nations, partnering with dozens of organizations to ensure that vulnerable populations are protected. The brand is transparent with its mission to be as ethically, socially, and environmentally conscious as possible! Disregarding the price tag, Cartier is a brand with high standards in all three core values.