Member Press Releases

Integrating science and digital technology to provide a joint solution for diamond traceability

17 Feb 2021

Diamond iStock-903560800

Over the last few decades, technological development has aided the expediency of diamond exploration and extraction, however, the uptake of technological innovation to verify diamond origin and value claims to stamp out the trade of conflict diamonds has been comparatively stagnant.

What is the current state of the diamond industry?

The majority of modern companies involved in the diamond supply chain are overtly opposed to the unethical and unsustainable practices directly associated with the conflict diamond trade and the sentiment of the industry is that this issue must be stopped.

It is apparent that existing employed methods have not proven successful as conflict diamonds are still infiltrating regulated and 'clean' supply chains of reputable companies all over the world. This is evident through the continued operation of unethically operating diamond mines.


Why isn't the Kimberley Process making a difference?

Through the advocacy of sustainable business practices, global jewellery committees and councils have attempted to stop the flow of the conflict diamonds by aligning their members with certification schemes like the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP), established in 2003. But what happens when a solution like the KP is not delivering on its objectives, and so many jewellers' sustainable sourcing practices primarily depend on the integrity of a flawed system?

It is well documented by a number of NGOs that while the KP had the best intentions, it is not the silver bullet the industry was looking for for a number of reasons:

  1. It relies on written or oral assurances of the integrity and origin of diamonds. There is no independent or transparent monitoring of this information.
  2. It is only applicable to rough diamonds, leaving cut or polished stones to fall through the gaps.
  3. The process requirements are easy to bypass by mixing stones, cutting them or smuggling across borders to gain passable paperwork.
  4. The Kimberley Process does not recognise other forms of conflict funded by the trade of conflict diamonds like sexual violence, torture, inhumane treatment and environmental crimes.
  5. There are no serious consequences for countries that are non-compliant with the KP.


Let's not look the other way, let's find a solution that works.

The adoption of innovative technology is paramount in tackling the issue of conflict diamonds. Paper-based certifications and business conducted on trust and word of mouth need to be globally acknowledged by the diamond industry as an obsolete method of verifying the integrity of value claims (i.e. ethically sourced) and origin claims (i.e. not originating from a Kimberly Process exclusion country).

Within the current technological landscape, there is no one single company that can solve this problem – whether it is a digital or scientific solution they offer.

What is required is the collaboration of next-generation digital and scientific technology companies to offer a joint program for the global diamond industry.
At Source Certain we believe that solution comprises an established digital traceability or Blockchain system that captures and stores accurate chain of custody data, and a scientific process that scientifically verifies diamond origin through a physical diamond analysis and in turn verifies the integrity of the aforementioned data.


Scientific Provenance Verification

There is a legally accepted scientific process used to determine the provenance of a diamond – right down to the kimberlite pipe it originated from. This process was pioneered in Australia by the current Source Certain Chief Scientist Dr John Watling and is known as TSW Trace™.

Any object that comes out of the earth, like gold or a diamond is a product of its environment. What this means is that it carries properties, specifically chemical, molecular, elemental and isotopic, that mirror its origin in the earth. For diamonds, these characteristics are bestowed upon them during a mineralisation event, and they remain unchanged within the diamond through the cutting, polishing and shaping processes. They are also entirely unique to each kimberlite pipe, and therefore diamond, depending on geological location.

What the scientific community struggled with was finding a way to accurately analyse and measure these characteristics, which are identified in minute amounts; parts per million and parts per billion. In the late 1980s, Dr Watling announced a new provenance verification technology that could determine these characteristics. Prior to its current name, TSW Trace™, he nicknamed it 'gold-fingerprinting’, given its original and extensive use in helping solve gold heist cases.

Source Certain has exclusive commercial use of TSW Trace™, which has now undergone almost 40 years of development. It has been referenced over 100 times in peer review papers, book chapters and scientific conference presentations, and is a legally accepted forensic method.

Source Certain use this technology to verify the provenance of a host of commercial food and non-food products like timber, seafood, raw minerals, pharmaceuticals and cannabis to the granular level of plantation, farm, mine, kimberlite pipe, or fishery.


An Integrated Approach

Scientific provenance verification is one component of a solution required by the diamond industry. Digital traceability systems, like a Blockchain network, rely heavily on the integrity of their data, which in turn relies on the authenticity of the diamond moving between supply chain partners. This data is compromised if a ‘clean’ diamond is unknowingly substituted with one from a conflict zone. A secondary scientific system must be in place to physically verify the authenticity of diamonds moving through supply chains.

Source Certain offers this complementing scientific technology with TSW Trace™. By validating a diamond’s authenticity, we, in turn, verify its accompanying chain of custody data creating a traceability system that can deliver scientifically and digitally verified conflict-free diamonds to customers.

Find out more about Source Certain


Source: Source Certain