Anglo American’s diamond unit De Beers is investing in a new blockchain platform that will provide a single, immutable record that traces a diamond’s individual journey through the value chain.
The miner said this diamond blockchain traceability platform allows for a highly secure digital register that creates a tamper-proof and permanent record of interactions – in this instance, a diamond’s path through the value chain.
In a blockchain, each event or transaction is registered in a database backed by advanced information security technology. This chain maintains a record of the activities that have taken place, the order they occurred in, who they occurred between and what they involved.
However, and what is most unique about this project, De Beers said is that the system can verify activity on the chain without needing to reveal sensitive details to the wider community.
Once established, the blockchain will operate as a shared platform, on top of which a range of solutions could be built.
“It can be thought of as akin to a smartphone and a range of apps – once the base blockchain technology is established, participants in the ecosystem can build applications for various uses, whether that’s as a trading platform, financial assurance tool or consumer-facing solution,” De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said in a company’s blog post on Monday.
In a world of fleeting connections and disposable luxury, diamonds must stand for enduring value that is grounded in confidence. Confidence that a diamond has been responsibly sourced, confidence in its value and confidence that it is the real thing.
“Now more than ever, consumers expect to know more about their luxury goods, the route they have travelled, their authenticity, and whether they have been a force for good in the world,” said Cleaver.
“Commercial players in the industry expect a modernised trading environment where goods can be bought, sold and shipped with increased trust and decreased cost. Retailers expect to have the tools and information necessary to trace the unique journey of a diamond. And lenders to the industry expect increased transparency from those to whom they lend.”
He added that as the first traceability platform to span the entire diamond value chain, the solution De Beers is developing aims to provide unprecedented levels of confidence and assurance for all stakeholders.
“Imagine a world where the unique journey of a diamond, from its beginnings as an unpolished gift of nature to its ultimate purchase as a symbol of life’s most meaningful moments, can be captured in a way that is as everlasting as the diamond itself,” he wrote.
“I am mindful that this news may spark more questions than it answers. This is new technology, and this is a complex industry, so we have more work to do before we are ready to launch the platform.”