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Modern Jeweler - Advertorial

HARMONY™ Advertorial - from Modern Jeweler’s May, 2008 issue

Earth-minded refiner and manufacturer Hoover & Strong has given a brand name and comprehensive marketing concept to what it has done for almost a century to protect basic human rights and the environment in order to help jewelers answer growing demand for ethically responsible jewelry. HARMONY™ Metals and Gems is an exclusive brand of 100% recycled precious metals paired with conflict-free diamonds and fair trade gemstones. More than 30,000 eco-friendly items are available—from mill products to finished jewelry.

Sustainability has evolved from a niche segment concern to a major factor influencing purchasing and shopping behavior across a sizable consumer base. A recent study of 22,000 U.S. consumers conducted by the Chicago-based market research firm, Information Resources, Inc., found the majority to be more focused on the social and environmental impact of their purchases. About 50% consider at least one sustainability factor (organic, eco-friendly products and packaging, and fair treatment of employees and suppliers) in selecting consumer products and shopping destinations; one-fifth weigh in at least two factors.

It’s a new reality that manufacturers and retailers need to address with fresh products and unique assortments to tap into emerging growth potential. Safeguarding the environment is a new consumer priority. "It’s about time," hails Torry Hoover, president of the Richmond, Virginia-based Hoover & Strong. "There have always been people goal-directed to be responsible to the environment. But now more people are aware of the fact that we don’t have unlimited resources, especially with precious metals. The main trend shift is a new corporate understanding that you can be environmentally friendly and make money, which has taken the movement from grassroots to mainstream."

Adapting to this development has required little change on the part of Hoover & Strong. The company’s original venture was the recovery and refining of platinum from industrial light bulbs to sell to local platinumsmiths. Today, all precious metals at Hoover & Strong are 100% recycled, including gold, platinum, palladium, and silver. It also buys conflict-free diamonds from sources that are full participants in the Kimberley Process certification system, as well as government certified diamonds from Canada. All of its gemstones are sourced from environmentally and socially responsible mines, with programs developed to give back to their communities. Hoover & Strong also practices internal processes that re-use materials and conserve energy in its mill, jewelry and refining divisions, with reduced waste and improved recovery paramount.

But what the company has done differently is to work with the NGO Earthworks (a cross-sector initiative to promote sustainable development, best practice, and certification or assurance in gold, diamonds, and other minerals) to document its procedures. "Over the last couple of years we’ve been building a paper trail to support our claim of good ethical standing," explains Hoover. "We’re also in the process of getting our certification, hopefully by July, by an independent certfication company." Hoover & Strong is a lead company in this endeavor.

About a year ago, Hoover & Strong began branding its efforts under the HARMONY™ name after increasing requests by jewelers for recycled metals. Since then, the product has taken off like no other, says Hoover. "Our  first ads hit the trade journals in February and March and we’ve already had several large diamond houses and retailers call us about product."

Custom jewelers and designers are especially in sync with HARMONY™, like Jennifer Dawes of Dawes Designs, Santa Rosa, California. "Becoming one of the  first ecologically minded jewelry designers was a no brainer. Being on the forefront of sourcing out my materials is hard. Hoover & Strong has been an essential part of my business for years, so when I found out about their HARMONY™ products I was  floored. They play a vital role in my business ethically and professionally. I’m happy to support what they are doing for our industry."

Jewelers can benefit from HARMONY™ in two ways—by selling branded  finished jewelry or working with branded mill products used in their own designs—both of which are eligible to display the HARMONY™ tag. "When HARMONY™ metals are used in a jeweler’s design it’s like Intel inside a Dell computer—an added value," says Hoover.

In addition to point of purchase tools for jewelers, Hoover & Strong will connect directly with consumers via its website, with aggressive online promotions planned for the future. As more jewelers use and promote the product, Hoover is optimistic that consumers seeking out socially and environmentally responsible jewelry will look for the HARMONY™ brand.