According to an article published by The New York Times on November 30, 2018, blockchain technology could prove to be a game changer for the jewelry industry. The innovation’s inherently transparent and immutable nature could mitigate the risk of counterfeiting within the fragmented supply chain specific to the industry.

Increasing Number of Companies Turning to Blockchain Technology

The jewelry industry has long been plagued by illicit activities such as counterfeiting and cheating customers at the end of the supply chain. The fact that precious metals are scattered throughout the world makes it even more difficult to remain vigilant over the supply chain.

However, this menace could be effectively dealt with using some form of distributed ledger technology. In recent times, many heavyweights have thrown their weight behind the technology to streamline the path of jewelry items from mine to store.

Although the players in the luxury industry are known for keeping their business secrets distant from the public eye, the increasing number of companies joining the bandwagon is a testimony to their long-term confidence in its benefits.

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DLT Could Prove to Be Cost-effective and Eliminate Paperwork

Regarding the technology’s utility in the luxury industry, Laurence Haziot, IBM’s global managing director for the consumer industry, stated:

“Blockchain helps to authenticate, in an instant, the apparent high value of any luxury item — from where it comes from to what it’s made of; from how many hands it has passed through to where and when it has been stored, stocked and delivered — and that is extremely important in the world of watches and jewelry.”

Moreover, there’s no shortage of methods of how the blockchain could be used to keep track of luxury items. In the first, companies can continually feed goods movement data on to the blockchain through unique serial numbers, installation of RFC chips, and sensor stamps.

Such measures would, over time, make it difficult for the wrongdoers to alter records or feed incorrect data in the distribution systems. It could also eliminate the cumbersome paperwork involved in keeping track of goods being moved, and minimize human errors to a large extent.

However, there’s a long path to cover before DLT can be fully integrated into the industry. For instance, investment and research costs could prove to be a considerable barrier for smaller brands. Further, scalability remains one of the chinks in the armor for the infant technology.

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Birks Group, one of the oldest luxury jewelry retailers in Canada, is now accepting bitcoin payments at some stores.

The firm announced Tuesday that it has partnered with U.S.-based bitcoin payments processor BitPay to enable “faster, easier and more secure” purchases for customers.

Currently, bitcoin payments are enabled at eight of the group’s stores, located at Vancouver West Hastings, Brinkhaus Calgary, Fairview Mall, Bloor, Yorkdale, Montreal and Calgary, out of 26 that it operates across Canada.

Some of the brands that are available for purchase through bitcoin are Rolex, Bulgari, Cartier and Breitling, the firm said. Its two recently launched stores in Vancouver, Graff and Patek Philippe, are also expected to accept the cryptocurrency in the near future.

“As an internationally growing brand, we believe that BitPay will benefit our customers as we look to align ourselves with these innovative capabilities that are on the forefront of technology,” Birks Group president and CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos said.

The firm added that this is BitPay’s “first major implementation” of its point-of-sale solution in the Canada.

“Accepting bitcoin helps Birks Group to cater to their high-end international clients and get new customers while providing an innovative and safe payment option,” said Sonny Singh, BitPay’s chief commercial officer.

The news marks Birks as the latest jewelry seller to accept bitcoin for goods. As early as 2014, U.S-based jewelry chain REEDS Jewelers started accepting bitcoins both at its online marketplace and over 60 stores across the country, through a partnership with Coinbase.

Last year in December, APMEX, one of the largest online gold dealers, also started accepting bitcoin, again through BitPay. And most recently, Pennsylvania-based Marks Jewelers partnered with e-commerce platform Shopping Cart Elite to accept crypto payments, including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin.

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