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IBM announces blockchain network to track and authenticate diamonds

IBM TrustChain
IBM TrustChain

IBM has announced TrustChain, a blockchain network that tracks and authenticates diamonds and precious metals from mine to market.

Working alongside a group of leaders in the gold and diamond industry – Asahi Refining, Helzberg Diamonds, LeachGarner, Richline Group and UL – the solution aims to bring transparency and provenance to the consumer by creating a trusted database that tracks every step of the supply chain.

“This initiative is important for our industry as we seek to raise the collective responsibility and provenance practices to new heights.” said Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer of Richline. “TrustChain is the first blockchain of its kind within our industry, designed as a solution that marries IBM’s leading blockchain technology with responsible sourcing, verification and governance by third party organizations, led by UL as the administrator.”

The technology aims to give consumers answers to common questions when buying jewellery, such as how the metal was mined and whether it was sourced from an ethical region. A participating brand will be able to pull up information on the full history of an engagement ring, per example, and that information is then available on a customer-facing web database.

At present, TrustChain is piloting the tracking of six different styles of diamond and gold engagement rings on the blockchain platform.

A public-facing interface that would allow consumers to scan a QR code to pull up more information is in the works, Jason Kelley, the GM of blockchain services at IBM, told TechCrunch.

IBM TrustChain
IBM TrustChain

To add another level of security, the IBM network has a mechanism for the participants of that chain to check the validity of each transaction, every step of the way, as a consensus. If there is a dispute, Kelley tells TechCrunch, a participant can click on a trusted chain and see what has happened immediately, which reduces the number of steps traditionally involved in a process like this.

Besides the enormous surge of interest in blockchain, examples of the technology being deployed have thus far been scarce. Major retailers such as Walmart and most recently, Starbucks, have been piloting the technology in order to provide consumers with the information they crave, yet still on a smaller scale.

Diamonds and precious metals is clearly an industry with a large demand for this type of technology, as seen by De Beers announcing it is also working on a blockchain program earlier this year. For luxury in particular, the benefits that the technology brings to consumers will increase the pressure for brands to be more open about their production practices and, eventually, more sustainable in their choice of suppliers.

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ICYMI: Rethinking returns policies, beauty’s AI future, Gucci on gun control

AI impacting beauty
AI impacting beauty

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Why fashion retailers are rethinking their returns policies [Glossy]
  • How artificial intelligence is changing the future of beauty [HuffingtonPost]
  • Why Gucci decided to support gun control [BoF]
  • How Everlane is building the next-gen clothing brand [FastCompany]
  • Cracking luxury’s customization challenge [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • 10 breakthrough technologies 2018 [MIT Technology Review]
  • How Google Zoo is thinking about machine learning [TCDaily]
  • Diamond industry turns to AR to attract wedding-wary millennials [Glossy]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Is this the year that fashion will pay attention to the planet? [ThePool]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Target CEO: Online shopping alone won’t cut it, retailers also need great stores [CNBC]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Maybelline asks followers whether it should quit Snapchat [AdAge]
  • Chanel unveils Instagram feed for beauty devotees, plans for another beauty pop-up in West Hollywood [LA Times]
  • First short film produced by Giorgio Armani unveiled during MFW [WWD]
  • Why paid memberships are the new loyalty [BoF]
  • Automat creates online hive for beauty sector chatbots [RetailDive]
  • Fashion company loses social media followers over same-sex ads [BBC]
PRODUCT
  • This company is using AI to make personalized skincare [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • UK fashion industry to take hardest Brexit hit [BoF]
  • Topshop boss Sir Philip Green ‘is in talks to sell his High Street empire to Chinese textiles giant’ [DailyMail]
  • Charlotte Olympia files for bankruptcy [Fashionista]
  • Tod’s turns to ‘Factory’ project to keep pace with fast-moving fashion market [BoF]
  • LVMH and Kering launch website for model welfare [FashionNetwork]
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Editor's pick technology

De Beers is using blockchain to authenticate its diamonds

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.

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Infographic: This year’s $2m Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra reimagined in champagne, selfies and boob jobs

lily_VS_fantasybra

Victoria’s Secret Angel Lily Aldridge will wear this year’s Fantasy Bra at the brand’s annual fashion show tonight in New York. Worth $2 million, the piece includes 6,500 precious gems ranging from yellow sapphires to pink quartz and topaz, all set in 18-karat gold, alongside 375 carats of diamonds.

Called the “Fireworks Fantasy Bra”, it was designed by Geneva-based jeweler Mouawad, and took a reported 685 hours to make.

It will be shown this evening at Victoria’s Secret 20th anniversary show, alongside other models including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, as well as music from Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding and The Weeknd.

The best thing we’ve spotted about it so far however? The infographic below from fashion site Stylight listing 20 alternative luxe and fun things you could buy for the price of the diamond-encrusted bra. Anyone up for 432,000 selfie sticks? Or how about eight return private jets from London to New York? Plus a serious amount of champagne for the ride – 13,100 bottles of Dom Perignon is the equivalent of filling 191 Olympic sized swimming pools. Or if you replace the Fantasy Bra with 26,000 regular Victoria’s Secret lingerie sets, that’s a new set everyday for 71 years.

Victoria-Secret-Fantasy-Bra-Infographic-Stylight-small2