Belgian business HB Antwerp has partnered with Microsoft to use blockchain technology and the Microsoft Cloud to create a digital footprint for diamonds to enable it to track each stone from the point of excavation in Botswana to the moment it is delivered to the consumer.
The firms collaborated to develop a blockchain ledger on Microsoft Azure and an enterprise resource planning system on Microsoft Dynamics 365. The solution begins collecting data on each diamond from the moment it is mined, recording the exact excavation location and then tracking it through storage, analysis and the processes to transform it from stone to diamond. It is tracked right up until delivery to the consumer.
Over 3,000 verification points are collected for each stone, which are stored in an internet of things device that acts as a ‘minivault’ that cannot be opened without tracking the action in its ledger. Data is then uploaded to Power BI to provide governments and mining companies with a real-time view of their diamonds.
The founders aim to increase visibility in the diamond industry, allowing mining companies to see how much value their stones generate, and enabling buyers to find out where their diamonds have come from.
“For more than a century, the diamond industry has made billions from obfuscating every stone’s journey,” said Shai de-Toledo, co-founder of HB Antwerp. “Where it’s from, who added value to it, how the value is – or isn’t – benefitting local communities, or even what a fair price should be for consumers. We feel it’s done so much harm that simply ‘disrupting’ feels like an evolution. This is a revolution.”
At a United Nations General Assembly in September, Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi said he believes HB Antwerp’s approach can be used in other African countries and help meet sustainable development goals.
“We believe the future of this industry is to transform the diamond in the country of origin,” he said. “This mineral belongs to the people, and it’s the people that will be involved in every step of it.”
HB Antwerp is also aiding local communities in Botswana. In 2021 the business opened its HB Antwerp Innovation Lab in Botswana. The lab trains engineering and technology graduate students, particularly women, for careers in the facility, with plans to soon open an academy for local diamond polishers.