IBM Partners with Top Jewelry Companies on Blockchain Project

IBM has partnered with some of the top companies in the gold and diamond industries on a cross-industry blockchain initiative meant to trace the origin of finished jewelry. The initiative, which was announced via a blog post by the New York-based tech giant, is intended to introduce transparency to an industry that has witnessed an increase in counterfeit jewelry, and brings together five of the most prominent names in the industry. The initiative will track the precious metals as they move through every stage of the supply chain until they become finished pieces of jewelry.

TrustChain Initiative

TrustChain Initiative will be powered by the IBM Blockchain Platform and delivered via the IBM Cloud. The participating companies are Asahi, a precious metal refiner; the Richline Group, an international jewelry manufacturer which is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway; LeachGarner, a precious metal supplier based in Massachusetts; Helzberg Diamonds, a jewelry retailer headquartered in Kansas City and also a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway; and UL, an independent, third-party verification company which, among other things, deals with the verification of products to ascertain whether they are what they claim to be.

TrustChain will initially track six styles of diamonds and gold engagement rings on the blockchain network as a pilot. This will help the development team iron out the kinks before it’s officially rolled out later in the year. TrustChain jewelry is expected to hit select retail stores by the end of the year. The initiative will track the jewelry from the precious metal stage through processing until it becomes a finished product at a retail store.

TrustChain will provide digital verification of the products, verification of all the processes involved, and third-party oversight. The objective of the collaboration is to build trust in the origin of jewelry by bringing together a community of ethical organizations which are equally committed to the cause across the jewelry supply chain.

The First Of Its Kind

TrustChain was developed on the IBM Blockchain Project and the Hyperledger Project and uses a distributed ledger on which records are shared among all participants and are immutable. The data will be available in real time to all the permissioned participants. The digitization of the processes will introduce a new form of command to the flow of information and will give participants the ability to collaborate on projects without privacy, security or confidentiality being compromised. The initiative will also introduce products that consumers can trust and which have a documented and verifiable origin.

Speaking about the initiative, IBM’s SVP for blockchain and global industries, Bridget van Kralingen, described it as an example of the blockchain’s power to transform industries by introducing transparency to the process. The initiative was necessitated by growing demand among consumers for the best-quality jewelry, she added.

Richline’s chief marketing officer, Mark Hanna, characterized the initiative as the first of its kind and important for the jewelry industry.

This initiative is important for our industry as we seek to raise the collective responsibility and provenance practices to new heights. 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.