Best known for its use in the creation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, blockchain is now making its way into the jewelry supply chain. Blockchain technology has already been implemented in supply chains across a range of different industries, to great effect, but its implementation in the jewelry supply chain is relatively new. In this industry, where transparency is in high demand, blockchain technology has a lot to offer.
Greater Transparency, Greater Good
Aside from cost savings, which many other industries have realized by implementing blockchain to trace products through the supply chain, this technology also allows for a higher level of transparency. The virtual ledger created when using blockchain is secure, and allows a material to be seen from one end of the supply chain to the other.
This is particularly important in the jewelry sector, as the mining of precious metals, diamonds, and gemstones presents a range of social and environmental issues, and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the impact of their purchases and the story behind their products. More and more of today’s customers want ethically sourced and eco-friendly jewelry; they want transparency and a backstory behind their gemstones, and they want to know that their purchasing habits are supporting good causes.
Traceability Through Blockchain: TrustChain and De Beers
In December of last year, De Beers, which controls approximately 35% of global diamond production, created a new blockchain-based electronic ledger, called Tracr, to trace diamonds from the mine to display cases. Because the corporation owns most of its supply chain, De Beers has had an easy time with compliance to ensure transparency. So far, the company has only used the technology to track larger diamonds, but says it is looking to implement the system for smaller gems as well.
And in April, a jewelry industry group launched TrustChain, a consortium made up of companies from every level in the jewelry supply chain. These companies are using blockchain technology built on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric to track materials, tracing every step of the way — from the minute a product leaves the ground to the moment it lands in the hands of consumers.
Members of the consortium agree to obtain necessary certifications to ensure that their products are sustainable, they agree to follow the procedures laid out with transparency in mind, and they agree to be audited to ensure that their practices and paperwork are up to snuff. The security of the blockchain and the verification benchmarks required by the consortium aim to allow consumers to be certain that any jewelry products purchased are eco-friendly and conflict-free.
By the end of 2018, there should be jewelry in stores that is completely traceable due to TrustChain. The TrustChain consortium is open to any company along the supply chain that’s willing to abide by their rigorous standards.
Blockchain in the Jewelry Industry
As blockchain becomes more and more prevalent throughout various industries, jewelry buyers can look forward to an added bonus — the knowledge that their purchase has done no harm.
Image credit: Piotr Zajda / Shutterstock.com