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Soapbox & Opinions, Diamonds

Articles from DIAMOND JEWELLERY (983 Articles)

Future-proofing the diamond sector

The other day I was thinking about why the wine industry is kicking the diamond industry’s butt in terms of a value proposition, and I came up with my answer pretty quickly.

A bottle of wine can be located down to country, region and year but we have a hard time even confirming the continent in which a diamond has been sourced sometimes.

If we are truly the luxury industry that we say we are then shouldn’t finding a means to determine this type of provenance be a priority – not just on a select few diamond brands but for every diamond? Surely it’s a way to add value? It seems like a no brainer!

Imagine a world where a customer asks for a Tanzanian-mined diamond with a vintage year of 2019. You see, 2019 was a good year for the customer as it coincided with the birth of his eldest daughter.

What’s more, imagine not only being able to track the exact date a diamond has been mined but also the city and person who polished that stone. It would reinstate the notion that a natural diamond is a depleting resource and add a little intrigue to every couple’s proposal story.

Of course there is also the issue of increasing consumer confidence regarding ethically sourced diamonds. I’m a fourth generation jeweller, rough diamond grader and polisher and when I opened my store in 2004 the issue of provenance wasn’t so relevant.

That was until the Blood Diamond movie ‘effect’ came along and customers began to ask where a diamond had been sourced.

"I would love to one day use an app that allows me to track a diamond’s origin, view a video of its original form, find out who polished it and what day it was mined."

The film openly suggests the whole industry colludes to keep the public in the dark, which is obviously a lie. It’s just that we simply didn’t have the framework to prove transparency of information for all stones.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that was established to prevent conflict diamonds entering the market was a great first step as it addressed the horrors of war and the resources fueling it. The problem, however, is that diamonds from one mine are mixed with stones from another mine and then sorted according to the specific value when offered for sale to a diamond site.

The Kimberley Process relies on paper-based certification, which can lead to issues such as document tampering and fraudulent claims. This ultimately makes provenance hard to verify and definitely doesn’t offer the sort of specific meta data that our customer requesting a Tanzanian-mined diamond with a vintage year of 2019 might want.

So where does that leave us? The future is blockchain impregnation of each diamond. Blockchain is the decentralised ledger underpinning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Readers may ask how this immutable technology would work for diamonds. Think of it as a ‘thumbprint’ for each stone – a blockchain-powered global digital registry.

I was recently in touch with the UK-based company Everledger, which is implementing this technology for various high-value goods. Australian Leanne Kemp is Everledger’s founder and CEO and is leading the way in creating a global digital ledger that collects the defining characteristics, history and ownership of assets and then makes that data available to stakeholders across a supply chain pipeline. The business has reportedly ‘digitised’ more than one million diamonds and is currently working on bringing the technology to fine art and rare wine. 

I’ve asked a handful of retailers about provenance and the blockchain concept and they mostly see the prospect of having transparent information as a relief because they could answer consumer queries with absolute confidence.

Suppliers see it as adding value to their product, while another industry member thought it would absolutely strengthen the sector; however, they added it would open a can of worms as customers might have presumptions about diamonds sourced from Botswana, for example.

This is a valid point but I don’t think it’s a deterrent from implementing the technology. In this situation, retailers should remind customers about the benefits of such a purchase – they are after all helping the progression of an underprivileged community.

I would love to one day use an app that allows me to track a diamond’s origin, view a video of its original form, find out who polished it and what day it was mined. With the use of new technology like blockchain, this type of system is not far away and the real question is whether the industry is ready for it.

Name: Noah Gattea
Business: Gattea Jewellers
Position: Owner
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 13

Allure South Sea Pearls

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