HRD Antwerp, a completely independent subsidiary of Europe’s Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), has teamed with Chinese Internet giant Alibaba to allow consumers to track diamonds using blockchain technology.
HRD Antwerp is a diamond certification company with laboratories in Antwerp (HQ), Mumbai and Istanbul. It also develops and commercializes screening, examination and manufacturing equipment for the benefit of the diamond industry and trade around the globe.
As part of the partnership, HRD Antwerp and Alibaba created a new diamond jewellery brand called Shape of Antwerp. HRD Antwerp will be certifying all diamonds sold by Shape of Antwerp on Alibaba’s Tmall platform, Belgian Diamond Pavilion, to ensure that the 4Cs – cut, colour, clarity and carat weight – match with the description given to the consumer.
“We want consumers to enjoy their stunning new diamonds instead of worrying about the quality,” said Michel Janssens, CEO of HRD Antwerp. “By certifying every stone, HRD Antwerp guarantees the stone’s natural origins as well as the quality of its 4Cs, so consumers receive exactly what they are expecting.”
HRD Antwerp will also laser engrave a QR code onto the girdle of each diamond before it is set in a Shape of Antwerp design. The tamper-proof QR code, which is also included on the diamond’s grading report, will allow consumer to use the platform’s blockchain technology to follow their diamond’s journey from Antwerp to China.
“Blockchain technology gives the transaction an extra layer of security and provides consumers with additional peace of mind,” HRD Antwerp said.
Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, continue to be a major problem in the industry. It usually occurs when militia, rebel or government-backed troops take physical control of mines (most prominently in Africa) and use them to fund continued violence against civilian populations. In 2003, the Kimberley Process (KP) was established to increase transparency in the diamond trade, while eliminating trade in conflict diamonds. But the KP system failed to stem the flow of blood diamonds, leading key proponents such as Global Witness to abandon the scheme.
Due to blockchain’s ability to act as a decentralized ledger and record any type of transaction, the technology has been used in pilot projects to track diamonds from the mine to retail. Earlier this year, De Beers, which sells approximately 35% of the world’s rough diamond production, announced that it successfully implemented its own blockchain platform to track 100 high-value diamonds. The company believes that blockchain will give buyers confidence that the stones they are buying aren’t fakes or conflict diamonds.
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