IBM puts Diamonds (and other jewelry) in Blockchain

International Business Machines Corp is planning to apply blockchain technology to shed light on the jewelry industry’s supply chain.

In the latest blockchain news, IBM announced TrustChain, their most recent foray into an application of blockchain technology. With TrustChain, IBM will apply their investments in blockchain development to the jewelry industry and its supply chain. Blockchain, the technology that gained fame as the foundation of Bitcoin, is a distributed database that can be used to record transactions, effectively creating an encrypted digital ledger. In IBM’s TrustChain, the blockchain will be used to record the path taken by finished jewelry, from raw material to the final product in the store. TrustChain will be a “permissioned” blockchain; only those in the industry who join the initiative will be able to read and write data to the blockchain ledger.

“By placing the current, physical process on a blockchain, we provide better visibility to the consumer throughout the entire supply chain, to allow exchanges of information amongst participants,” IBM’s TrustChain website states. IBM and five leading jewelry manufacturers have partnered to develop the technology. Other companies, including the De Beers Group, are working on similar blockchain solutions.

IBM expects TrustChain to deliver several benefits. For consumers, TrustChain will provide a means to verify the authenticity of the finished piece, and avoid fake jewelry. Each piece of jewelry will have a QR code, that when scanned, will confirm its authenticity, and also its supply chain. With the existence of “blood diamonds”, consumers will value the ability to confirm that the jewelry was rightfully obtained.

The jewelry manufacturers will also benefit from TrustChain as it will give them detailed data on their supply chains, providing opportunities for analysis and improvements. TrustChain can also be used for dispute resolution, as it will have records of every transaction, encoded into the blockchain in such a way that they cannot be altered.

This is not the first initiative launched by IBM based on their blockchain investing. A similar solution is being applied to the food industry, providing methods for tracking the provenance of fresh foods throughout the supply chain. And as blockchain training and awareness expands throughout the economy, IBM is sure, along with many other players, to devise other valuable applications of the technology.

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