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Retailing

Blockchain changing the world’s jewellery landscape, and Chow Tai Fook joins the revolution

Backed by the Gemological Institute of America, digital-savvy diamond shoppers can now ascertain the origin and authenticity of stones sold by the Hong Kong jewellery chain using an app

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 6:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 6:35am

A new initiative by one of Hong Kong’s leading jewellery retailers will see diamonds sold in its T Mark-branded stores “graded” for customers, by the respected Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a non-profit industry research body.

The move follows quickly on the heels of a similar practice by De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond seller.

Developed with leading blockchain solutions provider Everledger and secured by the IBM Blockchain Platform, the new service will show exactly where the diamonds came from and what quality they are, said Alan Chan, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group’s general manager of group branding.

“The retail industry is undertaking a digital revolution, and this serves as one of the key drivers of this pioneering initiative,” said Chan.

“Nowadays, young consumers often show interest in the entire cycle of diamonds, and therefore there is a growing importance for jewellers to help ascertain the origin and authenticity of gemstones by leveraging modern technology.”

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The information will be available via the T Mark app. By digitalising the diamonds’ certificates of authenticity, shoppers will in future be able to access a blockchain record of any they buy from the company.

“Not only does this initiative make it easier for consumers to manage their assets conveniently and efficiently,” added Kent Wong, the retailer’s group managing director.,“it is a long-term and invaluable investment that enriches consumers’ knowledge of their diamonds.”

The first phrase will see the initiative rolled out for diamond sales from four of its stores in Hong Kong – Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok and Tuen Mun.

So far, officials say 3,000 T Mark diamond reports are ready on its blockchain, and that coverage will eventually be extended to 10 stores and 10,000 diamond for sale.

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In a trading update, Wong said Chow Tai Fook’s sales continued to rise in double digits during the first half of the year, and have been largely unaffected by the brewing trade war between China and US, and the recent stock market decline.

He also expects the opening of the high-speed rail service from Kowloon to the mainland, on September 23 (although sales have been open since September 10) will also continue boosting the business’s sales, and he remains positive of a strong showing during the upcoming Golden Week shopping promotion, in October.

This partnership between Chow Tai Fook and GIA is one of the first consumer-facing initiatives to offer diamond grading information directly to customers, in what the company considers an important industry breakthrough, given that it provides a direct blockchain-based service to the general public.

Global diamond giant De Beers Group also ventured into the world of blockchain earlier this year.

A pilot for “Tracr”, the group’s blockchain-enabled platform, was launched in January, with the involvement of five diamond manufacturers and UK retailer Signet Jewellers.

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