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GIA, Chow Tai Fook Unveil Digital Grading Report

Sep 16, 2018 9:30 PM   By Avi Krawitz
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Hong Kong’s largest jeweler has launched a blockchain-powered app that provides consumers with a 4Cs digital grading report, along with data tracking the diamond’s journey from mine to market.

Chow Tai Fook partnered with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to develop the platform for its T Mark brand, claiming the technology will revolutionize the way the industry engages with customers.

“Consumers live on their mobile devices, so we need to use similar platforms to improve their buying experience and ensure trust and confidence,” Kent Wong, managing director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, explained in an interview with Rapaport News following the launch last week.

The jeweler, which has more than 2,600 points of sale across Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, is testing the platform at four of its Hong Kong stores before expanding to other locations by year-end.

When a customer buys a T Mark-branded diamond, the GIA grading report is registered to him or her and recorded on the blockchain ledger shared between Chow Tai Fook and the GIA. In addition to the data that typically appears on a paper grading report, the T Mark app also provides information such as the diamond’s country of origin and where it was cut and polished, as well as details of its design and setting into jewelry.

Much of that manufacturing process is completed by Chow Tai Fook, since the company polishes about 50% of diamonds larger than 0.20 carats in-house. That number increases to 70% for the T Mark brand, which is focused on 0.30- to 0.99-carat diamonds in the pilot phase, according to Wong.

Using a patented nanotechnology technique, the company inscribes a unique serial number on the table of each diamond before putting the stones on the blockchain, he explained. More than 3,000 T Mark diamonds have so far been listed on the blockchain, which was developed by service-provider Everledger and secured by IBM’s platform, the companies reported.

M2M to Blockchain

The program also represents a milestone for the GIA in that it is the first time its grading reports have been available in a digital format, secured by blockchain technology, explained Tom Moses, executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer at the GIA.

The system differs from the GIA’s Mine to Market (M2M) traceability program, which the lab launched last year. With M2M, the GIA works with participating manufacturers and miners to inscribe the rough diamond before it is cut and polished, so that the stone can be tracked through the pipeline, matching the resulting polished with the original rough stones.

However, those goods are currently not secured by blockchain, although Moses said the data and events that M2M recorded would eventually move to a blockchain database.

He also expects that the GIA will eventually provide digital grading reports for generic diamonds submitted to its labs. “That is ultimately our plan, and it’s easy to envision,” he said.

Doing so would enable other manufacturers to connect more easily with each other or the likes of Chow Tai Fook that are also on the blockchain, resulting in the whole pipeline becoming more efficient and secure, Moses explained.

However, that movement within the industry is being driven by consumers, who are demanding a more efficient and trustworthy buying experience, he stressed.

“We will now be able to link a customer with their diamond’s grading results and record this relationship on the blockchain,” Moses said. “This is an important milestone for the diamond industry and in moving blockchain from business-to-business, to business-to-consumer.”

“It’s an evolution in how we share information,” he added. 

Images: (Top) GIA and Chow Tai Fook management launch the T Mark platform in Hong Kong last week. Bottom right: Digital GIA grading report. (Credit: courtesy)
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Tags: Avi Krawitz, Chow Tai Fook, diamonds, GIA, jewellery, Jewelry, T Mark
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