Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings played a part in Everledger’s recent A-round funding and plans to help the British blockchain services provider run a WeChat app to help Chinese shoppers better understand where the diamonds they buy are sourced, Yicai Global reported.
Graphene Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, Rakuten, Fidelity Investments and Vickers Venture Partners all contributed to the US$20 million series, Everledger, which monitors sourcing of gems, fine wines and art using blockchain, said in a statement yesterday. It did not disclose how much each company chipped in.
The London-based firm hopes to launch the first ever mini-app for tracking diamonds using blockchain and connect major stakeholders along the gem’s value chain while offering greater transparency to consumers, Chief Executive Leanne Kemp said, adding that Tencent would help expand the service, the report said.
While diamonds are renowned as a girl’s best friend, the truth behind the gem’s supply chain is far from as pretty as the product the industry turns out. Many, known as blood or conflict diamonds, are mined and smuggled from war zones and their profits leveraged to fund rebel insurgencies.
Some 99.8% of the world’s diamonds come from conflict-free sources, according the Kimberley Process, the international initiative tasked with cleaning up the global diamond mining trade, though other sources believe the figure to be considerably lower, the report said.
Even the KP admits there are still several areas — typically in central and western Africa — where blood diamonds remain an issue.
2015-founded Everledger and similar firms have password protected more than 2 million diamonds worldwide via blockchain, according to public data.
James Mitchell, chief strategy officer at Tencent, said the company’s technologies add value for consumers and can lower business risks across the entire sector.
According to Brilliant Earth, in just the past two decades, seven African countries have endured brutal civil conflicts fueled by diamonds: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Diamonds intensify civil wars by financing militaries and rebel militias.
Rival groups also fight with each other to control diamond-rich territory. The tragic result is bloodshed, loss of life, and shocking human rights abuses — from rape to the use of child soldiers.
In 2013, a civil war erupted in the Central African Republic, with both sides fighting over the country’s diamond resources, Brilliant Earth reported.
Thousands of people have died and more than a million have been displaced. In addition, past wars fueled by diamonds have taken about 3.7 million lives.
Millions of people are still dealing with the consequences of these wars: friends and family members lost, lives shattered, and physical and emotional scars that will last generations.