February 2017

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Transparency in the Diamond Industry: How Technology Helps

The allure of diamonds over the centuries is not just about their radiance and beauty. It’s also connected to the mystery surrounding their origins. The story of the diamond’s journey from deep in the earth to the jewelry piece worn by a celebrity at the Oscars is one that fascinates people all over the world.  In fact, according to Stephen Lussier, of DeBeers, “Twenty years ago, we probably marketed secrecy as a sort of mysterious benefit.” But that is changing, and the new generation of diamond buyers aren’t necessarily drawn by the diamond’s ‘mystery’ or ‘allure’. In addition to the diamond’s beauty and quality, they are more likely to want the security of transparency in the diamond industry, giving them access to reliable information about the diamond.

With online sales, a burgeoning second hand diamond market, and other trends such as lab grown diamonds, owning a diamond is a more accessible goal than ever to the average consumer. However, as the public becomes more informed, they also become more wary.  Educated in both the 4Cs and geopolitics, these tech-savvy, socially conscious consumers want the most brilliant diamond, at the best price – and of course it must be ethically sourced. It has been noted in recent years that millennials are buying fewer diamonds and are increasingly concerned with the source of the diamonds they do buy.

Transparency in the Diamond Industry – Evolution and Revolution

Transparency in the diamond industry is in the better interests of many of the industry players. Diamond trading is undergoing increasing scrutiny due to enhanced regulation aimed at both anti-money laundering and consumer protection. Indeed, the demonetisation program in India is aimed at creating a more secure and legal luxury goods trade. The ideal scenario is one in which a diamond can be traced with absolute confidence. This helps to ensure it is not a ‘blood diamond’, and it can also assure the customer that the diamond’s ID and grading information is consistent. This benefits all the parties along the entire diamond pipeline, including the most important player of all – the end consumer buying an engagement ring or anniversary gift for his significant other.

Blockchain – Securing Diamond Information

Even the age-old diamond industry can’t avoid technological advancement. For instance, blockchain technology, often associated with Bitcoin, is being explored in Fintech as a newer, more secure way to trace transactions.  Blockchain could support the process of diamond tracing, from mine to jewelry store, increasing levels of security for all involved and ensuring regulatory compliance.  Once the diamond information is recorded in the blockchain, there is no chance of it being tampered with. It can be accessed securely by the necessary parties, including sellers, buyers, regulatory officials or investors, and verified in a more reliable and efficient manner than ever before.

Making Diamond Grading Transparent

New diamond grading technologies could enhance the transparency and assurance that is so important to the diamond trade. Part of the complexity of diamond grading is due to its inherently subjective nature. When grading is done manually, according to the perception of the individual gemmologist, there is so much room for interpretation. Consistent, repeatable, accurate technology-based grading can help tackle this problem, such as Sarine’s new Color and Clarity grading devices due to be released to the market in late 2017. This follows on the success of Sarine Light™, Sarine’s light performance measurement and grading technology that forms part of the Sarine Profile™ diamond report. The demand for Sarine’s light performance grading by consumers in both Asia and the US speaks to the importance of transparency in the diamond industry in helping to create confidence and boost sales.

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Rough diamond planning

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