Home to the largest concentration of diamond enterprises in the world, the city of Antwerp in Belgium is currently the capital of the diamond industry. The number of diamond firms to be found there are over 1,500, and these businesses bring together rough diamond producers and dealers, manufacturers, and polished diamond wholesalers.
Neither do tourists have to browse too much to locate a tempting jewelry store to make a purchase. Situated very close to the city’s landmark Central Station is the famed diamond quarter dotted with dozens of sparkly diamond shops and boutiques, with a sea of potential customers making their way in and out their doors. The headquarters of the world’s two largest diamond banks are in the city too, also within the diamond quarter.
Naturally, if the trade in diamond within this comparatively small perimeter is this dense, the trade recorded by the city itself in a year has a very high ceiling. Upward of 50% of global production of rough, polished, cut and industrial diamonds passes through Antwerp, and around 80% of the world’s rough diamonds are handled in this city generating an annual turnover of around €30 billion. The enormous trade in these gem stones has led a majority of the diamond companies to join diamond consortiums that operate on organized and decentralized blockchain networks.
In fact, diamond consortiums are probably one of the most productive additions to the industry that has come about with the proliferating use cases of the new age technology of blockchain. Blockchain is basically a decentralized, open source ledger that is finding utility in several sectors due to its properties of immutability, transparency, unlimited storage, that makes the data stored in it reliable, permanent, and easily accessible.
Diamond consortiums such as De Beers, Diamante and IBM, aim to increase the participation of the different constituents of this extensive industry — right from the mining companies to the consumers — and consequently introduce greater accountability in a field that has long been exploited to fund criminal activities.
Tracking of diamonds on a blockchain network creates scope for further utilization of the technology. Participation in the consortiums are incentivized with offerings of native digital assets often earned as part of a reward system, which can be subsequently traded on digital currency exchange platforms, a sector speculated to reach the trillion dollar mark in 2018 itself.
While diamonds are sourced from several locations like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia and Russia, inspection shows a notable geographic concentration of the trade in gem quality diamonds in certain areas only. Be it the wholesale or diamond cutting businesses, both are limited to just a few locations. These diamonds hubs are also emerging as the spots most eager to adopt technological advancements to strengthen infrastructure in varied departments.