De Beers Plots Blockchain Platform for Diamond Tracking

Diamond miner and trader De Beers has announced that it will apply blockchain technology to track its stones throughout their value chain journey.

South Africa-based diamonds supplier De Beers, a subsidiary of diversified mining giant Anglo American, is planning to use blockchain technology to better track its precious stones. The company will build a platform based on the distributed ledger technology (DLT). 

De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver wrote in an official blog post that the DLT platform would track the diamonds’ path from mine to clients. 

“Consumers should be able to know there is an accurate register of a diamond’s journey that provides assurance of its provenance and authenticity.”

De Beers sees the platform as a means for creating a secure database that would include every transaction with diamonds. The company also believes it would be possible to use the platform as a basis for building additional applications. 

Cleaver went on to add:

“This diamond traceability platform is underpinned by blockchain technology, which allows for a highly secure digital register that creates a tamper-proof and permanent record of interactions.”

De Beers usually sells diamonds to authorized buyers in Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia. The stones are then distributed for processing before they reach retailers. Despite the Kimberley Process in 2003, which prevents "conflict diamonds" from entering the mainstream market, some experts say that these precious stones are still used in money-laundering activities. Blockchain technology could help the company apply a method that is more efficient than the Kimberley Process proposed by the United Nations (UN). 

At this point, the platform only exists as a collection of vague concepts. Cleaver said:

“I am mindful that this news may spark more questions than it answers. This is new technology and this is a complex industry, so we have more work to do before we are ready to launch the platform.”

More details of the plan will be released during the early months of 2018. 

De Beers’ project is not the first blockchain use case related to the diamond market. On Sunday, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced the launch of Petro, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that would be backed by the national reserves of oil, gas, gold, and diamonds.