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De Beers is using blockchain to authenticate its diamonds

De Beers is piloting a blockchain program in order to ensure all diamonds are conflict-free and natural, while also enhancing efficiency across the sector.

De Beers is trialling blockchain
De Beers is trialling blockchain

De Beers is piloting a blockchain program in order to ensure all diamonds are conflict-free and natural, while also enhancing efficiency across the sector.

The industry-wide initiative will take advantage of the very nature of blockchain technology – providing an immutable, permanent record for every diamond registered on it from the moment they are dug up from the ground.

It will then follow them throughout the value chain in order to validate them at each step of the journey, so every time they change hands.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, said: “Diamonds hold enduring value and represent some of life’s most meaningful moments, so it’s essential to provide assurance that a diamond is conflict-free and natural. By leveraging blockchain technology, we will provide an additional layer of assurance to consumers and industry participants, with every diamond registered on the platform having a record as everlasting as the diamond itself.”

“We are very excited about this initiative and the benefits it could deliver across the diamond value chain, from producers through to retailers and consumers. We look forward to continuing to engage with industry stakeholders as we progress development of the platform over the coming months.”

Blockchain is largely known as the technology that underpins bitcoin, but has wider application beyond cryptocurrencies through its basis as a distributed and secure digital ledger. For the fashion and luxury industries, it also has application from a provenance perspective as well as an anti-counterfeit measure.

The De Beers pilot is underway with a small number of participants in the industry following the success of an initial proof of concept trial. According to the press release, during this development phase, key considerations are being addressed, including the protection of commercially sensitive data, streamlining processes at various stages of the value chain and providing further assurance for those that finance the industry. The aim is for a full launch later this year.

By Rachel Arthur

Rachel Arthur is Editor-in-Chief of Current Daily, the leading news source for fashion, retail and innovation, and the co-host of its weekly Innovators podcast. She otherwise serves as Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Current Global, a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion luxury and retail. By background she is an award-winning business journalist and consultant, contributing to titles including Wired, Forbes and Business of Fashion.