Ever wondered where that sparkly stone on your finger was dug up? Who polished it and where? The world’s top diamond producer wants to answer all your questions.
Russia’s Alrosa PJSC is rolling out a program that will allow jewelry buyers to track their diamond’s history in detail, using an identity number and electronic and video passports, as part of efforts to boost demand for the company’s products and appeal to younger customers. Alrosa has selected an initial 2,000 polished diamonds for the program, head of sales Evgeny Agureev told reporters in Moscow.
Diamond miners and retailers around the world are trying to develop new ways to reassure consumers that the stones they sell are free from many of the negative associations that have haunted the industry for so long. The industry is also grappling with softer demand for rough diamonds.
Last year, De Beers unveiled a blockchain system to track diamonds through their long and obscure journey from mine to jewelry shop. Tiffany & Co. said earlier this year it will begin sharing the provenance of its diamonds with consumers in an effort to be more transparent, saying the region or country of origin will be displayed alongside a selection of diamond rings it sells.
In Alrosa’s program, each stone will have an ID that will enable buyers to track its history on a website. The electronic passport will include the region where the stone was mined, how big it was before polishing, the name of the person who cut it and even his or her job experience.
Alrosa, which is the biggest diamond miner on a carat basis, will start offering the feature to customers of its own polishing unit and has discussed the option with three polishing clients, including in the U.S. and China, Agureev said. The company also plans to start selling diamonds to retail clients through an online shop in the autumn, he said.
Global demand for rough diamonds has faltered this year as buyers who cut, polish and trade the stones struggle to make a profit at current prices. De Beers said earlier this week its latest sales were 33% lower than a year earlier, and Alrosa is experiencing similar challenges, said Agureev.
The Russian company will probably miss its 2019 sales target of 38 million carats, he said, adding there’s potential for the market to start recovering in the autumn.
(By Yuliya Fedorinova and Thomas Biesheuvel)