Leaders in the gold and diamond industry have partnered with IBM to develop a blockchain network for tracing the origin of finished pieces of jewelry, IBM announced in a blog post April 26.

The TrustChain Initiative is partnership of precious metals refiner Asahi Refining, jewelry retailer Helzberg Diamonds, precious metals supplier LeachGarner, jewelry manufacturer The Richline Group, and independent verification service UL. The measure aims to provide increased transparency across the supply chain.

Based on the IBM Blockchain Platform and the Hyperledger Project, the initiative is designed to track and authenticate diamonds and precious metals from their place of origin to their retail location. It provides “digital verification, physical product and process verification, and third-party oversight,” aiming to assure customers that their jewelry purchases are ethically sourced. Bridget van Kralingen, IBM Senior Vice President of Global Industries, Platforms, and Blockchain, said:

“Consumers care deeply about the quality and source of the jewelry they purchase. This is evidenced by the fact that 66 percent of consumers globally are willing to spend more to support sustainable brands. TrustChain is an example of how blockchain is transforming industries through transparency and viable new business models that specifically benefit the consumer.”

By applying the technology, the consortium of the companies reportedly intends to digitize processes, establish a shared, immutable record of transactions within the network, and enable access to trusted data in real time. Mark Hanna, Richline Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, commented on the initiative:

“TrustChain is the first blockchain of its kind within our industry, designed as a solution that marries IBM’s leading blockchain technology with responsible sourcing, verification and governance by third party organizations, led by UL as the administrator.”

According to the announcement, the product will be available to jewelry consumers by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, Canadian gem-quality diamond producer Lucara Diamond purchased a digital platform, Clara Diamond Solutions, that uses blockchain technology to track the provenance of diamonds.

Canadian NGO Impact left the Kimberly Process initiative in January of this year. The blockchain initiative from De Beers aimed to ensure that diamonds were conflict-free, but Impact felt that the program did not live up to its goals, saying that, “There’s no meaningful assurance that a diamond is conflict free [...] The public is under the wrong impression that the problem is solved.”

Last month, soft drinks producer Coca-Cola teamed up with the US State Department and three other companies to launch a project that utilizes blockchain in order to address the problem of forced labor. The project will use a distributed ledger to create a secure registry for workers and contracts.