IBM demonstrates how blockchain tech can track physical jewellery

Big Blue shows how the digital technology can augment very physical industries

IBM has taken its work on blockchain technology for enterprise use and worked to create a system that uses the technology to track the origin and ownership of jewellery.

Dubbed TrustChain, IBM has effectively taken the digital distributed ledger technology of blockchain, which underpins the likes of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and used it to create a robust system of record that the jewellery industry could use, running from precious metal suppliers through to jewellers.

TrustChain makes use of IBM's own blockchain platform based on the IBM Cloud and provides the means for checks to be carried out on the validity of each transaction throughout the supply chain, with everyone who participates in it able to see each transaction at every stage.

It has a suite of participating jewellery companies onboard, including Helzberg Diamonds, LeachGarner, and precious metals supplier The Richline Group.

"Currently, diamonds, jewels, and gold move through a complicated supply chain and originating each of their sources is difficult. A more transparent supply chain could ensure all partiesincluding consumersintimately understand the movement and provenance of jewellery for quality assurance and authenticity," said Jason Kelley, general manager of blockchain services at IBM.

"An easier, more secure solution for retailers to effectively manage these transactions is to put them on a blockchain. Blockchain's a trusted and shared system of record that creates a permanent digitized chain of transactions, and provides all parties with the ability to accurately and quickly trace products throughout the world."

Kelley noted that the overarching goal of TrustChain is to "trust in the origin and ethical sourcing of jewellery" by creating a community of organisations to work together in a digital platform, thereby providing more transparency for customers on where their jewellery comes from.

TrustChain is a clear example of the potential for technology to be used beyond the realms of cryptocurrency and digital data tracking, demonstrating that it has potential to shake up sectors traditionally reliant on paper-based record keeping.

Image credit: IBM

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