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The TrustChain Initiative, which will run on IBM’s technology, includes precious-metals refiner Asahi Refining, U.S. jewelry retailer Helzberg Diamonds, precious-metals supplier LeachGarner, jewelry-maker the Richline Group and verification service UL. Other industry players may join the effort as well, said Jason Kelley, general manager for blockchain services at IBM. Products being tracked through the program should be available to consumers shopping for jewelry by year-end, according to a joint statement Thursday.
TrustChain is the latest effort by the jewelry industry to use blockchain — a digital ledger that is immutable — to prove to consumers that their purchases don’t include blood diamonds or conflict metals and are ethically sourced. IBM has also been actively helping form a slew of blockchain-focused companies and industry initiatives around various supply chains. For example, it’s working with companies like retailer Walmart Inc. to trace food products, and earlier this year helped start an effort to track international cargo. Providing technologies to such projects is a huge growth opportunity for Big Blue, which has already grabbed the biggest portion of the world’s blockchain-related spending.
Jewelry tracing is becoming increasingly important for business, as the younger customer is "far more skeptical, does more research," said Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer at Richline. "We feel this is an absolute must right now."
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