IBM teams up with diamond industry consortium to launch TrustChain initiative

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

IBM has announced the launch of TrustChain, an initiative which aims to use blockchain technology to confirm the provenance of jewellery across the supply chain.

The project was launched by IBM alongside a consortium of gold and diamond industry companies, including precious metal refiners and suppliers Asahi Refining and LeachGarner, jewellery retailers and manufacturers Helzberg Diamonds and The Richline Group, as well as independent firm UL.

The TrustChain Initiative will track and authenticate diamonds and precious metals through each stage of the supply chain, providing verification both digitally and for the physical product and process. The goal of the initiative ‘is to instil trust in the origin and ethical sourcing of jewellery by bringing together a community of responsible and ethical organisations across the complex and multi-tiered jewellery supply chain’, as an IBM blog post puts it.

“Consumers care deeply about the quality and source of the jewellery they purchase,” said Bridget van Kralingen, IBM SVP for global industries, platforms and blockchain. “This is evidenced by the fact that 66% of consumers globally are willing to spend more to support sustainable brands.

“TrustChain is an example of how blockchain is transforming industries through transparency and viable new business models that specifically benefit the consumer,” van Kralingen added.

This is another example of how blockchain technology could impact the supply chain of different industries. IBM claims this is the first global initiative to focus on the provenance of diamonds and jewellery through blockchain – though there have been some other projects in this area.

Back in October, as reported by the South China Morning Post, Chow Tai Fook, a Hong Kong-based jeweller, said it was exploring blockchain and how it could ‘put important information into the ledger’, while a month earlier Pamela Amlber, writing for Forbes, assessed how the technology could assist after a Global Witness report found blood diamonds from the Central African Republic were being traded on Facebook.

In January, this publication reported on how De Beers, the diamond unit of Angelo American, was exploring an industry-wide blockchain initiative to ensure gem authenticity and purity.


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