Thankfully, Swarovski has had something of a head start, with a commitment to responsible business that goes back to its founder Daniel Swarovski’s vison of a company that operated with people and planet at heart.
While many of the company’s recycling techniques date all the way back to 1895, it was with the launch of its Conscious Design Program in 2015 that Swarovski began developing a set of bold new initiatives for how unused or unsold stock is dealt with, with a particular emphasis on its environmental impact. Through this Conscious Design program, Swarovski encourages the design community to adopt principles of circularity and reconsider unwanted, unused or imperfect crystal as a resource.
These processes reached full fruition beginning in 2018, with the debut of Viktor & Rolf’s Fall/Winter 2018 haute couture show. Not only a celebration of the legendary Dutch designers’ 25th anniversary in the fashion business, it also marked 19 years of their ongoing partnership with Swarovski. Appropriately for this landmark collection, Viktor & Rolf used over half a million new and upcycled Swarovski crystals to bring some of their most iconic designs to life once again in spectacular, shimmering style.
More recent efforts to bring sustainable sparkle to the runway have involved collaborations with leading international designers, including Kevin Germanier, Jonathan Cohen and Tiziano Guardini. Most breathtaking of all was a collaboration between Atelier Swarovski and Stella McCartney—a brand with a rich history of pioneering sustainable design—for designs to be worn on the red carpet at the 2019 British Fashion Awards by some of the industry’s leading supermodels, Karen Elson, Joan Smalls and Amber Valletta. The Atelier Swarovski Fine Jewelry pieces they wore were crafted in recycled gold, and featured Swarovski Created Diamonds. Grown under laboratory conditions, the gems are identical to mined diamonds, while their impact on the physical environment is lower.
What these efforts speak to is not only Swarovski’s innovative approach to bringing its business firmly into the 21st century, but also an understanding that forging a new and more responsible path comes only with radical transparency. A project with Trucost to assess the environmental impact of crystal raw material revealed that it is one of the lowest impact jewelry materials available. And with Swarovski’s ongoing efforts to establish a more circular economy to recycle as much of its output as possible, the future is shining bright.