Blockchain theory appeared in the early 1990’s and in 2008, amid a global financial crisis, a decentralized version was implemented with Bitcoin. At that time confidence in banks and currencies was at an all time low.
The goal of Bitcoin is to secure a financial transaction between 2 parties without the need of a bank. To do this it was necessary to set up a ledger listing the history of all transactions.
This sequence of information constitutes the blockchain, all the transactions of the ledger being chained or linked in a continuous series one after the other. The success of Bitcoin has expanded into other sectors ever since.
The goal is to share information amongst users, whether a client or professional, on the multiple steps in the life of a gem. This shared information is stored on several servers at once, which insures data accuracy and allows to prevent their corruption. As a result, the data should be more secure and traceable.
This ledger guarantees traceability and contributes to the integrity of the information amongst the various intermediaries. Each and every contributing party must enter the data in a trustworthy manner, starting at the mine through each intermediary until it reaches the final consumer.
This entire set of data makes up the history of the stone and is available on demand by the customer.
This innovation answers the need for transparency. The success of blockchain will depend on how large a number of parties are involved.
De Beers is working to apply this technology to help identifying the stones by ownership, contracts and financial history. It will then be possible to follow the stone from extraction to polishing.
Gübelin, the Swiss laboratory, has partnered with Everledger, a startup specialized in blockchain for luxury goods, and launched project « Provenance Proof Blockchain ».
Intended for professionals, its goal is to construct a digital history of each stone. Entering each set of data is a collaborative effort for the benefit of everyone and can be applied to all gems both rough and polished. The startup acts as a centralizing hub where all information related to identification is gathered and stored. Information can include certificates and quality reports, 3D scans, nano-particle technology, tomography etc.
Gübelin aims to develop innovative technologies for the jewelry industry including the Emerald Paternity Test and Blockchain. As Gubelin Director Mr. Nyfeler, explained, these new approaches can help track a gemstone’s information such as geographic origin, past sales, and certificate history.
Blockchain is an answer to the growing consumer demand for transparency. This initiative could prove to be a great advance for the jewelry industry. However, data quality and trustworthiness depends on the parties that input them. Piat House is keeping a close eye on these new technologies as they continue to develop.