Iris Van der Veken (pictured), who served as the Responsible Jewellery Council’s (RJC) executive director for three years, will become executive director and secretary general of the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030.
The Watch & Jewellery Initiative is the sustainability drive cofounded last year by Cartier and Kering, in association with the RJC. Cartier is owned by Richemont, a rival conglomerate to Kering.
Van der Veken will be based in Geneva. A team will soon be set up to support her in her new role. The group is in the process of developing its governance structure.
Van der Veken tells JCK that this new group will differ from the RJC in that her old group is a standards-setting body that serves as a baseline. The Watch & Jewellery Initiative commits members to ambitious targets in climate, diversity, health and safety, labor standards, as well as developing craftsmanship in the new generation.
“These companies are bolder than others and will hopefully inspire others,” she says.
Companies that have joined the group include Swarovski, Pandora, Rosy Blue, and Chanel, as well as the brands within the Kering and Richemont stables.
“What will come out of this is the opportunity for these companies to learn from each other,” Van der Veken says, “and then build some tools for the larger industry.”
While most of the companies that have joined so far are big names, Van der Veken hopes it will attract smaller companies too.
In February, Kering, Richemont, and Van der Veken all resigned from the RJC to protest what they saw as the group’s reluctance to suspend Russian diamond miner Alrosa in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Alrosa eventually suspended itself. Kering and Richemont have since rejoined the RJC. Former Rio Tinto executive John Hall is now its acting executive director.
Before coming to the RJC, Van der Veken was director of public affairs and policy international for the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). She has also worked as chief operating officer for Ann Demeulemeester, a Belgian luxury fashion house; as an adviser for strategy and corporate social responsibility for Signet Jewelers; and as a manager of corporate affairs at Rosy Blue.
Cyrille Vigneron, president and CEO of Cartier International, said in a statement: “Under Iris’ leadership, we will be able to accelerate change and enable action throughout the global jewellery and watch supply chain.”
In the same statement, Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs, said the appointment marked “an exciting new chapter” in the Watch & Jewelry Initiative 2030.
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