World's No. 1 diamond jewellery retailer joins De Beers tracking pilot

The world’s largest diamond jewellery retailer, Signet, has become the first chain to join De Beers' pilot of its end-to-end diamond blockchain program called Tracr, aimed at clearing the supply chain of imposters and conflict minerals.

Signet will work alongside the Tracr team to ensure the platform meets the needs of the jewellery manufacture and retail sectors, with the partnership initially focusing on the tracking of diamond jewellery and expanding the pilot’s scope to cater for smaller-sized goods.

“We are joining the Tracr pilot because we believe the project not only has strong potential to facilitate increased transparency and confidence within the industry, but it can also foster much-needed digital transformation,” Signet Jewelers chief executive, Virginia C. Drosos, said in a statement.

Tracr, expected to launch later this year, gives each diamond a unique ID that stores stones characteristics such as weight, colour and clarity. 

Anglo American’s De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond miner by value, has led industry efforts to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from conflict zones where gems may be used to finance violence.

The pilot, announced in January, has an initial focus on large stones, but De Beers will extend its scope with the goal of making it the first industry-wide tracking system.

The blockchain platform is basically a shared database of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the Internet, a technology currently being employed in the bitcoin sector.

Tracr, expected to launch later this year, gives each diamond a unique ID that stores stones characteristics such as weight, colour and clarity. To support the process, the system will also be using stone photos and planned outcome images.

Earlier this month, De Beers announced it had successfully tracked 100 high-value diamonds from miner to retailer using Tracr. The event was the first time a gem’s journey had been digitally-tracked along the supply chain.

Despite the establishment of the Kimberley Process in 2003, aimed at removing those so-called conflict diamonds from the supply chain, experts say trafficking of precious rocks is still ongoing.

De Beers believes the development of a system like Tracr should help solve that problem.