Photo of smiling young woman working at a diamond processing facility.

‘Moments of fact’: Belgian firm HB Antwerp is utilizing blockchain to trace every diamond’s story

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Merely disrupting the normal diamond provide chain isn’t fairly what the founders of Belgian firm HB Antwerp are aiming to do. They need a revolution.

The firm launched in 2020 with the purpose of utilizing know-how to convey visibility to the historically opaque diamond business. Its founders hope to determine a brand new customary for diamonds by offering an end-to-end image of every stone’s trajectory, from mine to client, whereas making certain better fairness for diamonds’ nations of origin.

These efforts middle on utilizing blockchain know-how and the Microsoft Cloud to create a digital ledger of every diamond’s story — beginning with the place the stone got here from, right down to the exact excavation location, and following it as it’s sorted, analyzed, remodeled from tough stone to glowing diamond and eventually, delivered to the buyer.

HB Antwerp’s mission is targeted on empowering native communities to learn from the diamond business and have a better stake in its future.

These “moments of fact,” as HB Antwerp calls them, will allow diamond-mining nations to see how a lot worth their stones generate, and conscious-minded consumers to know the place their diamonds come from. Additionally they create an infinite quantity of information — over 3,000 verification factors for every stone.

“The principle problem was that it’s by no means been finished earlier than,” says Shai de-Toledo, considered one of HB Antwerp’s founders.

Realizing the necessity for a companion able to scaling the answer to any nation, HB Antwerp turned to Microsoft. The businesses labored collectively to develop a blockchain ledger constructed on Microsoft Azure and an enterprise useful resource planning system utilizing Microsoft Dynamics 365. Information from every diamond is saved in a proprietary IoT machine, primarily a minivault that may’t be opened with out documenting that motion within the ledger. (See a demo of HB Antwerp’s IoT capsule.) 

Photo of smiling young woman working at a diamond processing facility.
The HB Antwerp Innovation Lab opened in Botswana in 2021 to coach graduate college students, significantly girls, for careers in its facility there.

The information is then uploaded to Energy BI, Microsoft’s knowledge visualization platform, to offer governments and mining corporations with a real-time view of their diamonds’ worth appreciation. The purpose, de-Toledo says, is to make details about every diamond accessible to customers by way of a hyperlink to the ledger.

“We are attempting to bundle this complete journey and ship it to the buyer in a manner that can create an setting that others discover it very troublesome to compete with,” he says. “Having a ledger and a illustration of the journey signifies that for the primary time, customers can ask themselves, ‘The place did the diamond come from? What was its impression? Which individuals benefited from it?’”

The standard diamond provide chain, de-Toledo says, has commodified diamonds and diluted their worth, with many gamers concerned and little profit flowing to the nations and individuals who produce the diamonds.

“For greater than a century, the diamond business has made billions from obfuscating each stone’s journey,” he says. “The place it’s from, who added worth to it, how the worth is — or isn’t — benefitting native communities, and even what a good value needs to be for customers. We really feel it’s finished a lot hurt that merely ‘disrupting’ looks like an evolution. This can be a revolution.”

Outdoor group shot of HB Antwerp employees and diamond industry workers in Botswana.
HB Antwerp’s method to buying diamonds has resulted in 40% increased royalties to the Botswana authorities over the previous two years.

A ‘seismic shift’ for Botswana

Integral to HB Antwerp’s mission is empowering native communities to learn from the diamond business and have a better stake in its future. In Botswana, that has meant investing within the nation, making certain a fairer value for its diamonds and creating new alternatives for its individuals. The HB Antwerp Innovation Lab opened in Botswana in 2021 to coach engineering and know-how graduate college students, significantly girls, for careers in its facility there. Moreover, HB Antwerp will quickly open an academy in Botswana to coach native diamond polishers.

In 2020, HB Antwerp started implementing its new ecosystem below a partnership with the Lucara Diamond Company at its Karowe mine in Botswana. HB Antwerp is buying diamonds from the mine based mostly on their worth as polished stones, reasonably than the usual follow of paying for tough product. That has resulted in 40% increased diamond royalties to the Botswana authorities over the previous two years, in line with HB Antwerp.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi characterised the brand new method as a “seismic shift” for the nation. “I can inform you we don’t wish to revert to the usual we had,” he says.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi with Teresa Hutson, vice president of Microsoft’s Tech and Corporate Responsibility Group.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, left, with Teresa Hutson, vp of Microsoft’s Tech and Company Duty Group, throughout a U.N. Common Meeting occasion.

At a U.N. Common Meeting occasion in September, Masisi mentioned he thinks HB Antwerp’s method could possibly be utilized by different African nations and can assist meet the Sustainable Improvement Objectives (SDGs) adopted by U.N. member states.

“We wish to exit and actually market this,” he mentioned. “We wish to see the connection between African governments and those that they companion with basically change. There’s no motive to assume we’re going to realize the SDGs with (present) fashions. It simply gained’t work.”

In the end, says HB Antwerp co-founder Rafael Papismedov, the purpose is to offer data and coaching that can allow Botswana and different African nations to have better possession over their pure assets and develop their economies.

“We consider the way forward for this business is to remodel the diamond within the nation of origin,” he says. “This mineral belongs to the individuals, and it’s the those that will probably be concerned in each step of it.”

Watch extra HB Antwerp movies and be taught extra about their story by visiting www.microsoft.com/industrysolutions/HBAntwerp.





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