The blockchain for coloured gemstones

The most recent addition to the Provenance Proof label is a blockchain project launched in partnership with Everledger, a leading global emerging technology Enterprise.

The Provenance Proof initiative

Amidst the mounting push from consumers towards more transparency the Gübelin Gem Lab has successfully launched its Provenance Proof initiative, developing new technologies to increase transparency and traceability within the gemstone industry.

Today's buyers have greater expectations when it comes to information about a gem's history. From the sourcing of raw materials, to the principles and values of the mines and companies behind the product, the value-chain as a whole has come under scrutiny. And yet, the conditions under which coloured gemstones are sourced are still highly opaque and lack independent verification.

With this in mind the Gübelin Gem Lab has established its Provenance Proof initiative. It encompasses the development of an array of technologies with the aim of bringing more transparency to every step in the gemstone industry's value chain.

What are the technologies?

The blockchain for coloured gemstones

The most recent addition to the Provenance Proof label is a blockchain project launched in partnership with Everledger, a leading global emerging technology Enterprise.

The aim of the partnership is to create a digital ledger based on blockchain technology, which will enable the operations along a gemstone's value chain to be securely recorded, stored and shared.

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The Emerald Paternity Test

The Provenance Proof label was launched in parallel with the launch of the Emerald Paternity Test.  

Gem Labs can determine a gemstone's country of origin by identifying geological properties typical of a specific region. However, it cannot be broken down to specific mines in a given geological region. This makes it hard for the jewellery industry to ensure the specific origin of a gemstone. The industry must rely on self-declaration by mining companies.

The Emerald Paternity Test uses DNA-based, nano-sized particles encoded with the mine's information to tackles the issue of a stone's origin. Applied within the gemstone at the source, it allows the identifying of a stone's birthplace.

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Frequently asked questions

Does this technology make sure the stone is indeed the one described in the blockchain?

Blockchain technology is built to ensure the integrity of the data that is entered. The encrypted and decentralized nature of the blockchain minimizes the risk of an unauthorised change of blockchain data, and will trigger a halt of the respective chain in the event of an attempt to tamper data. However, blockchain technology can control the integrity of the data, but not its veracity and authenticity. Blockchain technology alone cannot make sure that the stone described in the blockchain as being mined responsibly is indeed mined responsibly. It cannot guarantee that the Colombian emerald described in the ledger is indeed from Colombia, or even that it is a true emerald. Equally, a stone could get swapped along its way from the mine to the end consumer, a process that would get completely unnoticed by the digital logbook that travels alongside the stone. Hence, we have to manage our expectation regarding the capability of blockchain technology to ensure the integrity of the stone. Nevertheless, the blockchain adds confidence to your purchase. The transparency granted to the supply chain will make it more difficult for fraudsters in the long run, as they leave a pattern that can be traced, and the cheater can be identified. A more immediate and robust way to get confidence in the integrity and authenticity of a stone is to combine the digital tracking of the blockchain with a physical tracer. Physical tracers containing provenance-specific information, are inserted into or attached to a rough crystal at the source, and remain with the stone all along the value chain and throughout their lifetime. The Emerald Paternity Test (see website) is one example of such a physical tracer, and how it perfectly complements the digital track of the blockchain, boosting its resistance against an undisclosed alteration or swap of stones.

How is Provenance Proof checking the legitimacy of its participants?

Provenance Proof Blockchain is an open platform that welcomes everyone who embraces the value of transparency, and accepts the terms of use. However, we have the obligation to check the legitimacy of the companies and individuals that are using this platform, i.e. perform certain KYC checks, that are standard in the industry. This legitimacy check basically comprises of a background inquiry that aims to identify counterparties that might have a problematic track record, i.e. that are mentioned in sanction, watch, regulatory, and law enforcement lists. The background check applied for Provenance Proof taps several hundreds of public records, on a local, national and international level. Once the background check is passed, and after having signed the Code of Conduct and the Terms & Conditions, the new participant is a registered user of the Provenance Proof Blockchain and can start using its services.

Is the data I enter in Blockchain visible for everyone?

No. Access is granted to everyone who accepts the terms, but visibility into the history of a specific stone is granted only to those who own the stone, or who have the stone in their custody. This visibility is only granted during the time this specific gemstone is in their ownership or custodianship. Once the stone is passed on to a next stakeholder, also the exclusive right to see the existing blockchain data is handed over to this person or company, as well as the permission to write the next chapter in the diary of that specific gemstone.

Can Gübelin Gem Lab & Gübelin AG see my data?

The Gübelin Gem Lab is merely one possible stakeholder along the journey of a gemstone, such as the miner, the cutter or the jeweler. The Gübelin Gem Lab or Gübelin Jewellery have no privileged insight into the data of the blockchain.

Can Everledger see my data?

Everledger has provided us with the report of an independent audit company that has scrutinized the source code of Everledger and the underlying Hyperledger operating system. This report confirms that no backdoor access exists and that no unauthorized party can access the information contained in the Provenance Proof blockchain.

Can I see who finally bought my stone?

The main purpose of the Provenance Proof Blockchain is to provide transparency for the final customer into the personal history of a gemstone from its source to the final jewellery. This requires visibility upstream the value chain, back in time, from the retailer / jewellery back to the wholesaler, the cutter, and finally to the mine. Possible other involved parties such as dealers, gem labs, or treaters are also made visible. However, the visibility is only granted to the owner of stone at the time of having the stone in his/her ownership or custody. Once a gemstone has been transferred to a next owner, one also transfers the access to the blockchain, contributing new data and seeing existing data. Downstream visibility is not granted at any level.

What do I have to do to join the Provenance Proof Blockchain?

The Provenance Proof Blockchain is easy to join for any type and any size of stakeholder. The registration process, and the entering and reading of data is equally simple, only requiring a smartphone. While the minimum set of data required to register is very basic, i.e. not more than a name and a location, more complete information allows a company to demonstrate the contribution and value that they add to a product. For large companies, the option exists to develop custom-built interfaces with their databases and ERP systems, facilitating an automated and efficient data feed in the Provenance Proof Blockchain. Integral part of the registration process is a Code of Conduct that every user has to agree to work in compliance with. It obliges the users of the blockchain to stick to certain rules, such as being honest and complete about the nature, provenance and properties of the stones they put on the blockchain, and about the identity, values and standards they pursue and comply with as a company. Furthermore, every company and individual that completes the registration process is subject to a background check (see below for details).

Is this technology also suitable for small members of the industry?

The Provenance Proof Blockchain has been designed and built to also cater the needs of small-scale participants of the gemstone and jewellery industry. When building the user interfaces, we had the artisanal miners, the small-scale mining cooperatives, small-scale dealers, and independent designer and retailers in mind. Using only a smartphone and online access, the Provenance Proof Blockchain can be used in its full functionality also in remote areas.

Is the use of Provenance Proof Blockchain linked to any traditional Gübelin Gem Lab services?

No. The access to the Provenance Proof Blockchain, as well as other Provenance Proof services such as the Emerald Paternity Test, is not attached to any services of the Gübelin Gem Lab or any other Gübelin business. No strings attached.

Can I use the Blockchain only for stones that contain the physical tracer of the Emerald Paternity Test?

No. The Blockchain can be used for any type of gemstones, coloured gemstones, diamonds, pearls, single and lots, rough and cut, loose and mounted. The presence of a physical tracer has no influence on the usage of the blockchain.

News

Rapaport

The Provenance Proof Blockchain tracks gemstones throughout their lifespan until they reach the end consumer...

International Business Times

Gübelin Gem Lab is a renowned gemmological laboratory and creator of the Provenance Proof initiative, designed to drive transparency in the gemstone industry.

Handelszeitung

Traditionshaus Gübelin macht mit Blockchain-Startup Everledger gemeinsame Sache: Zusammen wollen sie den Handel mit Edelsteinen revolutionieren.

AGEFI

Le projet vise à fournir un registre numérique décentralisé qui suit les pierres précieuses au cours de leur parcours le long de la chaîne d'approvisionnement.

Mining Review

The Provenance Proof Blockchain is applicable to any type of gemstone and open to any stakeholder of the gemstone and jewellery community who is ready to embrace transparency...

Jewellery Net

A blockchain system aimed at boosting transparency in the coloured gemstone sector – the first in the industry – recently made its debut in the US.

Luzerner Zeitung

Die von Gübelin ins Leben gerufene «Provenance Proof Blockchain» soll die Verfolgung aller Schritte eines bestimmten Edelsteins entlang der Lieferkette ermöglichen.

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Maihofstrasse 102
6005 Lucerne
Switzerland
T: +41 41 429 17 17
F: +41 41 429 17 34
@: info@provenanceproof.com

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