The Lucerne-based company Provenance Proof AG has developed a blockchain solution that aims to make tracing precious stones possible. In an interview, director Klemens Link talks about the development and benefits of this innovative solution.

Provenance Proof enables the traceability of gemstones using a blockchain solution.
Provenance Proof enables the traceability of gemstones using a blockchain solution.

What was the motivation behind founding Provenance Proof AG?

Provenance Proof is a start-up run by the family company Gübelin. It all started with the need for more transparency and traceability in the gemstone and jewelry industry. Innovation has always played an important role in the Gübelin company’s tradition. Raphael Gübelin’s vision of increasing transparency of gemstone origins and using state-of-the-art technology to shed more light on the supply chain was the driving force behind the Provenance Proof initiative in 2017. It puts the entire value chain of the gemstone industry to the test, creating more transparency and trust.

In 2019, we introduced the world’s first forgery-proof blockchain-based platform that makes it possible to map the journey of every gemstone, from rough stone to finished piece of jewelry. In the same year, Provenance Proof AG was established as an independent subsidiary of Gübelin in order to ensure transparency in the gemstone and jewelry industry as a neutral third-party provider.

Provenance Proof’s blockchain solution offers complete traceability of gemstones. How exactly does the technology work and what benefits does it have?

Think of the blockchain as a kind of digital diary. All stakeholders involved in the gemstone’s value chain add a page with their information, so to speak. At the same time, the Provenance Proof blockchain enables the creation of a digital inventory along the entire supply chain of each extracted gemstone. A unique digital twin is created for each gemstone that is only visible to the gem's owner. The blockchain technology offers high-level encryption and unalterable data. This gives those with authorization insight into the supply chain and the origin of the gemstone. The consumer then has a digital twin connected to the jewelry they have purchased, complete with documentation and exciting insights into the world of gemstones that would otherwise remain hidden to them. In the meantime, around nine million gemstones have been recorded on the blockchain and around 700 companies from over 50 countries are registered. 

The benefits of this technology are manifold. On the one hand, complete traceability increases transparency and confidence in the origin of the gemstones. Consumers can be sure that the stones have been mined ethically and traded fairly. The blockchain solution also prevents counterfeit or illegally traded gemstones, as each gemstone has a unique digital fingerprint. Last but not least, the technology helps to improve the efficiency and security of the supply chain, as all the information on the blockchain is available in real time and protected from manipulation. Our blockchain solution is a groundbreaking step towards a transparent and sustainable gemstone industry. With this innovative technology, we are setting new standards for the industry and paving the way for a more ethical and responsible future.

A great example of the benefits of our solution is the cooperation with Moyo Gems, a local initiative that distributes ethically mined gemstones from Tanzania. The aim of this collaboration was to improve the working conditions of the predominantly female small-scale miners in the Tanzanian gemstone industry through transparency. The results speak for themselves: the visibility put pressure on local authorities, who have since become increasingly committed to women’s safety. Demand for these traceable stones also increased significantly. Both jewelers and end customers are prepared to pay a higher price for the transparency introduced. This impressive collaboration successfully demonstrates that transparency and ethical trade can create real added value for all parties involved.

Like Haus Gübelin, Provenance Proof is also located in Lucerne. What makes Lucerne an attractive business location for you?

Over many decades, Lucerne has established itself as a globally important location for the luxury watch and jewelry industry. In addition to the major players in the Swiss retail trade that are based in Central Switzerland, Lucerne is also an important point on the map of the gemstone industry. Precious stones come to Lucerne from all over the world and are analyzed by Gübelin’s gemmological laboratory on behalf of renowned auction houses, jewelry brands and museums. By operating in the same location as these flagship companies, the start-up is given additional credibility and prestige, which has already opened doors for us internationally. For many, Lucerne is closely associated with jewelry and watches. 

Lucerne is also an attractive location for Provenance Proof thanks to its central location and ease of accessibility. This creates an optimal network in every direction, whether within Switzerland, Europe or the rest of the world. In addition, our guests, which include customers and business partners, appreciate the highly attractive Lucerne location and enjoy visiting it.

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