Caroline Scheufele; The 6,225-carat Insofu emerald rough. (Photos: Chopard)

While rigorous CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes are commonplace among prominent watch and jewellery brands, few come close to having made the strides that Chopard has in the last decade. In 2013, the family-owned business launched its Journey to Sustainable Luxury initiative and made the stunning announcement shortly after that it was committed to using nothing but ethically sourced gold for its entire production. It’s a goal that it well achieved in 2018: Chopard is the first in the industry big leagues to do so.

Fast forward to the start of this year and Chopard announced its acquisition of a 6,225-carat rough emerald mined by Gemfields, a leading supplier of responsibly sourced gemstones—hence melding its love of exceptional gems with its insistence on accountability. And much like Chopard’s Garden of Kalahari diamond suite that was fashioned from a single 342-carat rough diamond and unveiled in 2017, this Insofu emerald (meaning elephant in Bemba, the language of Zambia, from which the stone comes) will be crafted into high jewellery that will be unveiled in 2023.

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Kagem Mine in Zambia
Gemfields’ Kagem mine in Zambia, where Insofu was found.
Photo: Chopard

“Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by precious stones, and [I’ve been] lucky enough to work with some of the most beautiful in the world. But the feeling that overcame me with the Insofu emerald surpassed any emotion I’ve ever known,” says Chopard’s Co-president and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele. “When I first saw Insofu, my mind was dancing. There was an undeniable magnetism and power of attraction; it exudes an incomparable aura. Its purity is a promise, yet the quality of its inclusions is what makes it extraordinarily alive. From the moment I saw it, I knew that it would be a hugely important stone for Chopard.”

Still, the Swiss luxury house has a daunting task ahead of it. As Scheufele readily admits, unlike diamonds that can be “analysed with precision” to determine their final weight, cut and quality, emeralds rarely “disclose all their secrets at once”, only revealing their full potential during the cutting process. This must surely cause some anxiety.

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The Garden of Kalahari Secret Watch
The Garden of Kalahari secret watch, one of six creations to result from the 342-carat Queen of Kalahari rough diamond. Photo: Chopard

“Yes, I’m excited and nervous,” she confides. “As a true gem lover, I accepted the challenge of this fragile and splendid beauty. Emeralds are the most fragile precious gems of all: A wrongly positioned impact can shatter the stone into a multitude of irrecoverable fragments. No one, including the most expert gemmologists, can really foresee or make any definite pronouncements on the exact nature of emeralds in their raw state. However, Sean Gilbertson, the Executive Director of Gemfields, detected exceptional potential in this particular stone, so we’re all very much looking forward to the next step.”

Accompanied by Chopard’s assurance for transparency and traceability at every step of the stone’s progress, from a rough to haute joaillerie, Insofu is setting new luxury standards in more ways than one. We, too, are very much looking forward to seeing the creations that await us at the journey’s end. Stay tuned.

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