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Cartier Owner Richemont Plans to Track Diamonds With Blockchain

Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods giant that owns Cartier, is turning to blockchain in a move aimed to bring transparency to its supply chain.

Jin Keyu, a renowned economist and an associate professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) who was appointed by Richemont as a board member last year, said during a speech at an event on Thursday that the luxury giant aims to use blockchain to control all the “parallel markets.”

“As Cartier’s parent company, we [Richemont] have recently decided to start utilizing blockchain to trace the origin of diamonds, rocks and gold back to the mines or recycling factories. For all the watches we sell, we also hope to (use blockchain) to track their sources to validate their authenticity,” she said.

During her speech Jin also discussed her academic interests and reasons for her move into the blockchain industry, adding that she is to join China-based blockchain startup Ultrain as an adviser to contribute her expertise on macroeconomics.

Jin argued that blockchain projects are often trying to experiment and build monetary policies from scratch, without learning from existing academic research in the field.

She said:

“To me, blockchain essentially restructured the entire economic spectrum. … I think it’s extremely interesting because, to solve this broad issue, we need not only microeconomic theories … but also macro ones such as currency, monetary policy and regulation.”

During a fireside chat with CoinDesk, Jin indicated she also plans research to explore questions in the crypto world from the angle of macroeconomics. That work will potentially include designing a cryptocurrency which can perform three essential functions of a currency: storage of value, stability and unit of account.

Originally from Beijing, Jin became the youngest tenured professor at LSE when she was 29, after having obtained her BA, MA and PhD from Harvard. She is frequently invited to appear on international business news outlets for her macroeconomic expertise on issues pertaining to China.

Jin Keyu image courtesy of Ultrain; diamonds image via Shutterstock

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Blockchains Are Forever? Diamond Giant De Beers Unveils DLT Strategy

One of the world’s most well-known diamond companies is getting into blockchain by investing in an asset tracking platform.

De Beers, its chief executive announced today, is planning to use the tech in a bid to boost transparency across the diamond supply chain. The firm, the world’s largest miner of diamonds, says it wants to use the tracking platform in order to rebuild trust in the diamond distribution process – as well as alleviate concerns over money laundering and the broader trafficking of conflict diamonds.

CEO Bruce Cleaver unveiled the initiative in a blog post published earlier today, writing:

“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 – in this instance, a diamond’s path through the value chain.”

Cleaver outlined a number of characteristics that the platform will possess, including privacy controls for participants and wide access to potential users.

As it stands, the system doesn’t have a firm launch date, though Cleaver indicated that the development process would play out over the coming months and involve input from stakeholders.

“In the months ahead, we will continue to work with leaders from across the industry and share our progress with you,” Cleaver wrote. “In the process we will no doubt make some mistakes, but we will continue to collaborate, learn and persevere.”

That De Beers is moving in this direction is perhaps unsurprising, given work in this area by industry startups as well as international bodies like the United Nations. In September 2016, the group behind the Kimberly Process, an initiative which seeks to keep conflict diamonds out of global markets, said that it was looking to apply blockchain as part of a way to track diamond trade statistics.

Diamond image via Shutterstock

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