Blockchain Engaging TrustChain in Jewelry

World’s leading Diamond and Gold Jewelry Industry Giants form the Consortium called “TrustChain” in collaboration with IBM to put Jewelry Supply chain on IBM’s Blockchain Platform.

TrustChain utilises IBM’s Blockchain Technology solution to improve global provenance in the diamond and jewelry supply chain. This collaboration is a unique one as it leverages IBM’s Blockchain Platform, Underwriter Laboratories (UL), and Independent third-party verification together with the five diamond and jewellery companies that represent the global supply chain, namely – Rio Tinto Diamonds (diamond supplier for PoC), Leach Garner (Precious Metal Supplier), Helzberg (US Jewellery Retailer), Asahi Refinery (Precious Metal Refinery), and the Richline Group (Global Jewellery Manufacturer).

Let us assume you want to buy a beautiful diamond necklace for yourself, but can you confirm whether it was mined and manufactured ethically? Providing such information to end consumers is not yet a common practice. Although diamonds in today’s jewellery market are much more likely to be conflict-free, it can still be difficult to trace individual components back to their exact origin. A newly-formed consortium of gold and diamond industry leaders are determined to make the jewellery supply chain more transparent by strengthening existing standards and through the implementation of new standards and technology underpinned by blockchain.

The “TrustChain” initiative reflects the key goals – namely, applying technology to provenance for jewellery products and doing so, increases the consumers’ level of transparency, assurance and trust so that they know where their jewellery has come from.

The consortium will leverage IBM’s industry-leading blockchain technology platform..and expertise. The diamond and jewellery industry will have a new benchmark in supply chain governance, provenance and technology. The group, which is an open source community, is encouraging other responsibly documented participants in the supply chain to join the consortium. Additionally, the blockchain technology can be made to complement or be interoperable with most other blockchain networks in the industry.

1. Key challenges in the jewellery supply chain:
The supply-chain is complicated, involving miners, certifiers, gemological scientists, shipping managers, regulators, designers, wholesale suppliers, retailers, insurers, etc. However, the information is not shared across the entire jewellery supply chain network, so there are often multiple versions of the same documents which must be reconciled. Fraud can occur as jewels, and precious metals change hands en-number of times along the supply chain.

Like me, the consumers want to know that their jewelry pieces which they are purchasing are authentic. Due to the scale and size of the jewelry industry, it requires industry-wide efforts to make the supply chain network transparent enough to provide consumers with the guarantees they deserve and demand. IBM said, “TrustChain uses distributed ledger technology that establishes a shared, immutable record of transactions that take place within a network which then enables permission to parties access to trusted data in real time. By applying the blockchain technology to digitise processes, a new form of command and consent is introduced into the flow of information, empowering those in the blockchain network to collaborate and establish a single shared view of information without compromising information, privacy or confidentiality.”

2. Giving Provenance with IBM Blockchain Technology Platform:
The significant benefits of the blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, is having one immutable and continuously updated record of transactions that is shared across all network participants. If a gem or precious metal is recorded on the blockchain, its provenance can be traced back to its origin. In 2016 London based, Everledger has proven that it is possible by logging the identifying characteristics of over 1.6 million diamonds on the blockchain.

TrustChain links the parties together; they aim to bring a new level of assurance to consumers regarding the traceability of their jewelry

Participants in the blockchain network can easily keep track of all of the components in a piece of jewelry right from the time they are mined, as they’re fabricated into consumer products – such as diamond rings or pendants – or until they are sold.

3. Establish trust in the minds of the consumer:
Whether or not the company follows ethical practices affects both its reputation and consumer trust. Consumers should be able to determine whether the diamonds, gold, and gems in their jewellery are mined and manufactured ethically. Hence, it is crucial for the members of the jewellery supply chain to have access to the trusted information. The jewellery blockchain collaboration around the TrustChain Initiative will improve efficiency in managing the movement of diamonds, gems and precious metals. Together, the consortium members will use blockchain technology to provide a new level of assurance to consumers.

De Beers announced of its success in tracking hundred high-value diamonds right from the mine to jeweler on its blockchain-based electronic ledger called “Tracr” now being piloted; De Beers hopes to go live with Tracr later this year.

De Beers, which controls 35% of the world’s diamond production, in December 2017 announced its intention to launch an industry-wide blockchain network to track diamonds. Along with verifying a diamond’s authenticity, the De Beers blockchain network will be able to prove that the gems are not mined in war-torn areas where the sale of the gems could be used to finance violence.

According to De Beers, “Every interaction or event registered on the Tracr Chain is a “block” which represents unique information, characteristics or data about a diamond as it passes through the value chain. The blockchain community verifies every block before it can be added to the blockchain. With each new registered data entry, the network grows, and when “chained” together the blocks create a complete digital record for every diamond.”

As the diamonds travel along the value chain, a unique Global Diamond ID is automatically created on Tracr which stores individual diamond attributes like color, carat, and clarity through the integration with the participant’s existing record-keeping systems which allows Tracr to consolidate data into an immutable digital trail for every physical diamond, assuring traceability and provenance from the mine to the final polished product in the pendant or your ring.

According to Bruce Cleaver, Group CEO De Beers said, “The Tracr project team has demonstrated that it can successfully track a diamond through the value-chain, providing asset-traceability assurance in a way that was not possible in the history of the Jewelry supply chain industry.

The Blockchain Platform allows for gemstones and precious metals to be digitally verified and checked by a third party ensuring that all the intermediaries and concerned parties of the supply chain are being honest. Mining companies and Jewelry conglomerates have for a long-time kept their own records to prove their goods authenticity and originality were real, but much of it has been held internally and relegated to paper making it difficult to search through. The London Bullion Market Association, which oversees the world’s biggest spot gold market, is also considering using of the digital ledger to trace the origin of metal, to prevent money laundering and to detect conflict minerals.

To summarize, building the trust of a consumer is extremely critical in establishing a trusted relationship of a lifetime where you know for sure that your customers are loyal to your brand or products since your consumers deeply care about the source and quality of the jewelry they invest or purchase. I see a massive potential in IBM’s Blockchain Platform which is the next big wave in the world of the technological revolution which the world will witness.

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