GIA Testing Digital Grading Reports, Backed by Blockchain

If a new Gemological Institute of America (GIA) initiative pans out, those ubiquitous laminated GIA grading reports may become a thing of the past.

In a pilot with Chinese retailer Chow Tai Fook, customers who buy the retailer’s T Mark–branded diamonds will receive the accompanying GIA grading reports not as paper documents. but as digital data delivered to the T Mark app.

The new digital reports will be secured by blockchain technology, developed with Everledger using the IBM Blockchain Platform.

GIA chief lab officer and executive vice president Tom Moses says the lab has been talking with Chow Tai Fook about digital grading reports for some time.

“The original discussion took place a couple of years ago, prior to blockchain,” he says.

But once blockchain became the rage, “the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together,” he says.

Chow Tai Fook managing director Kent Wong says the digital-only reports offer several benefits for consumers of the T Mark, which bills itself as a “traceable” diamond.

“The GIA diamond grading report information is integrated into the T Mark app, allowing consumers to receive both diamond grading and diamond traceability information through a single digital platform,” Wong says. “They have their diamond’s most important information at their fingertips.”

In addition, the grading info is now more secure, he says.

“The report information is written directly on the blockchain,” he says. “Therefore, it is unique and immutable, giving additional confidence in the authenticity and security of the information.”

Wong adds that “when a customer purchases a T Mark diamond, that transaction is also securely recorded on the blockchain ledger as well. This will register the customer as the owner of the diamond report, securely linking them to the report.”

Pritesh Patel, GIA senior vice president and chief operating officer, notes that if the customer chooses not to use the app, they can still access their diamond’s info through GIA’s online Report Check.

For now, Chow Tai Fook is just piloting the concept at select stores in Hong Kong. But Moses says that GIA looks at this as the future.

“It is our expectation that at some point this will be mainstream for GIA,” he says. “This will be the evolution.”

He says that, the way things are now, having a lot of paper grading reports can be cumbersome.

“You have all these retailers with tons of reports,” Moses says. “We manage a lot of that paper ourselves. It’s time-consuming and expensive, and paper is not that secure.… We do envision this not stopping with Chow Tai Fook.”

T Mark

Images courtesy of Chow Tai Fook

JCK News Director

4 responses to “GIA Testing Digital Grading Reports, Backed by Blockchain”

  1. Very forward thinking…no heads in the sand here. This could very well revolutionize the gemstone document business.

  2. Considering that the GIA has had to reissue grades in several instances in the past due to fraud by graders and IT staff how would this happen to grades that are now unchangeable in the Blockchain?

  3. Ultimate goal, only a few approved diamond cutters, only a few approved diamond dealers, and only a few approved jewelers (if any) will be allowed to participate. Ultimately this will be direct to consumers which will guarantee DeBeers profits.

  4. All of us know that the prime purpose of a GIA report is to identify one diamond from all of the others.
    The logo and numbers from the report are lasered onto the stone. but they can be quickly and easily removed with minimal investment in equipment.
    The removal process changes the weight and the diameter (vital stats) of the stone at the same time, so regardless of the chain of custody of the documentation. Once the stone has been “cleaned” in this manner, it is a different item and the former stone no longer exists.
    Considering the latitude allowed graders because we still use an archaic system with many subjective variables, the variance in tools and in personal opinions on any stone, I am amazed that we have reached such a high degree of agreement as we now have.
    Using blockchain, or any other system to secure the documents has nothing to do with securing the stone(s) identity.
    Once altered, the stone(s) can be resubmitted for reevaluation and legistimized once again, because the system GIA uses has too many holes in how stones are labelled.
    We have, and we have had for some time, the technology to map a stone internally in three dimensions and to define clarity and inclusions so that even if a gross identifier like weight or diameter is altered, the stone should still “pop up” as “the one” that is missing.
    Can anyone else come up with another permanent identification or marking system that is as accurate as a map that cannot be altered as easily as the girdle markings that are now so popular with criminals?

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