Consortium of Jewelry Industry Leaders Announce TrustChain®, First Global Blockchain Initiative to Bring Full Transparency to Consumers

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–IBM (NYSE: IBM) and a consortium of gold and diamond industry leaders today announced the first cross-industry initiative to use blockchain to trace the provenance of finished pieces of jewelry across the supply chain for increased transparency.

Asahi Refining (precious metals refiner), Helzberg Diamonds (U.S. jewelry retailer), LeachGarner (precious metals supplier), The Richline Group (global jewelry manufacturer) and UL (independent, third party verification) are launching the TrustChain® Initiativepowered by the IBM Blockchain Platform, delivered via the IBM Cloud.

TrustChain® is initially tracking six styles of diamond and gold engagement rings on the blockchain network. As the program continues to develop, TrustChain® jewelry is expected to be accessible to consumers in participating retail stores by the end of 2018.

“This initiative is important for our industry as we seek to raise the collective responsibility and provenance practices to new heights. TrustChain® is the first blockchain of its kind within our industry, designed as a solution that marries IBM’s leading blockchain technology with responsible sourcing, verification and governance by third party organizations, led by UL as the administrator,” said Mark Hanna, Richline Group’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“Consumers care deeply about the quality and source of the jewelry they purchase,” said Bridget van Kralingen, IBM Senior Vice President, Global Industries, Platforms and Blockchain. “This is evidenced by the fact that 66 percent of consumers globally are willing to spend more to support sustainable brands. TrustChain® is an example of how blockchain is transforming industries through transparency and viable new business models that specifically benefit the consumer.”

The TrustChain® Initiative tracks and authenticates diamonds and precious metals through every stage of the supply chain as it becomes a piece of finished jewelry. It provides digital verification, physical product and process verification, and third-party oversight. The collaboration’s goal is to instill trust in the origin and ethical sourcing of jewelry by bringing together a community of responsible and ethical organizations across the complex and multi-tiered jewelry supply chain.

Built by IBM Services on open source technology and based on the IBM Blockchain Platform and the Hyperledger Project, TrustChain® uses distributed ledger technology that establishes a shared, immutable record of transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time. By applying the technology to digitize processes, a new form of command and consent is introduced into the flow of information, empowering those in the blockchain network to collaborate and establish a single shared view of information without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.

For consumers, TrustChain® establishes a trusted product with documented provenance and brings together quality assurance, social and environmental responsibility, and authenticity spanning the entire jewelry ecosystem – from miners, manufacturers, wholesale suppliers and retailers – on a single digital platform.

About Asahi Refining

Asahi Refining, a wholly owned subsidiary of Asahi Holdings Inc., is a leading precious metal refiner, trader, and bullion product manufacturer. The company maintains LBMA-certified London good delivery refineries in the USA and Canada and serves a global client base from the mining, recycling, banking and bullion trading industries. Find out more at www.asahirefining.com.

About Helzberg Diamonds

Helzberg Diamonds, a retail and online jewelry store focused on customer service, was founded in 1915 and has more than 200 stores nationwide, featuring a wide selection of fine jewelry, including diamond engagement rings and wedding rings, precious gems and watches. Helzberg Diamonds takes pride in its history of offering exceptional value, exclusive designs and timeless jewelry. Helzberg Diamonds is based in North Kansas City, Mo., and is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE symbols BRK/A and BRK/B). For the locations nearest you, call 1-800-HELZBERG (800-435-9237) or visit helzberg.com.

About IBM

IBM is recognized as the leading enterprise blockchain provider. The company’s research, technical and business experts have broken barriers in transaction processing speeds, developed the most advanced cryptography to secure transactions, and are contributing millions of lines of open source code to advance blockchain for businesses. IBM is the leader in open-source blockchain solutions built for the enterprise. Since 2016, IBM has worked with hundreds of clients across financial services, supply chain, government, retail, digital rights management and healthcare to implement blockchain applications, and operates a number of networks running live and in production. The cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform delivers the end-to-end capabilities that clients need to quickly activate and successfully develop, operate, govern and secure their own business networks. IBM is an early member of Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. For more information about IBM Blockchain, visit https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/or follow us on Twitter at @ibmblockchain.

About LeachGarner

LeachGarner provides the most comprehensive range of melt to market products and expansive technical expertise portfolio in the precious metals industry. As a global Precious Metals supplier, LeachGarner continually evolves to meet the challenges of the industrial, jewelry, and government markets they serve. As precious metals fabricators, the product portfolio spans industries, capabilities, and expertise all centric to precious metals. The company excels in creating and developing products to precise specifications. Visit www.leachgarner.com

About Richline Group, Inc.

Richline Group, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and one of the USA’s foremost Fine Jewelry Manufacturers and Marketers. The other major brands comprising Richline’s portfolio are Inverness, LeachGarner, Rio Grande and Richline Jewelry. Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiaries engage in diverse business activities, including property and casualty insurance, utilities and energy, finance, manufacturing, retailing and services. Visit www.richlinegroup.com.

About UL

UL solves the safety, security and sustainability challenges of the 21st century. Around the world, UL employees share a common passion for UL’s public mission to promote safe working and living environments for all people. UL tests, inspects, audits, certifies, verifies claims, advises and trains, as well as provides software solutions. To learn more, please visit www.UL.com/crs.

Contacts

Richline Group
Mark Hanna, 212-886-6212
mark.hanna@richlinegroup.com
or
IBM
Leesa D’Alto, 212-671-9806
leesa.dalto@ibm.com
or
Helzberg
Marti Greathouse, 816-627-1457
mpgreathouse@helzberg.com
or
UL
Marla Hedworth, 860-212-6644
Marla.Hedworth@UL.com
or
LeachGarner
Ed Rigano, 774-203-1129
erigano@leachgarner.com
or
AsahiRefining
David Dorris, 801-972-6466
david.dorris@asahirefining.com

Richline Group Featured in Responsible Jewelry Council Annual Progress Report

Mark Hanna, as featured in the 2016 Annual Progress Report from the Responsible Jewelry Council:

Richline believes that our Corporate Social Responsibility programs must be authentic. We pursue a “Return on Responsibility” model that considers our investment in responsible practices by examining all the positive effects of our future viability. Transparency and trustability are real goals. Our RJC Membership and participation is a catalyst for the guidance and verification of our corporate commitments. RJC’s certified Members clearly exhibit this responsible commitment; one that is meaningful to the jewelry industry’s reputational value and consumer positioning. RJC Membership and certification is an investment in harmonized, responsible initiatives. As responsible leaders in our industry, RJC devotes time, effort and money to do work that, in many cases, is not easy to measure. Our RJC Membership keeps us on track and the network of RJC Members ensures a “best in class” framework for initiatives.

Click here to learn more about the Responsible Jewelry Council, and to read the full report.

Richline Participates in Washington, DC Symposium to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

Mark Hanna from Richline Speaks on Panel to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

Richline Group CMO, Mark Hanna, speaking on a U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance panel:

“There’s nothing more important and an asset to any kind of business than your reputation. We’ve been preaching something called return on responsibility. […] That reputation is justified by the return on responsibility of doing the right things. We think that there are enough organizations and enough great companies, like Tiffany, that are working to do the right things. And it proliferates. And it sets by example, and it creates a little bit of a pressure point to follow.”

Click here to watch the entire panel discussion, including insights on how companies like Ebay and Etsy are working to combat wildlife trafficking.

Richline Jewelry: The Chrysalis Catalyst

Professional Jeweller on the Chrysalis brand:

It’s been almost a year since British jewellery brand Chrysalis partnered with US-based manufacturer, distributor and marketer, Richline, and the company has certainly seen strong results from this collaboration.

While Richline is the outright owner of the Chrysalis concept, co-founders Andrea and David Maine continue to run the company with Richline’s support and financial backing. When the two joined forces, no-one could have predicted just how well the partnership would go and, furthermore, the snowball of success the brand would enjoy.

To give you an indication of its rapid growth Chrysalis opened 40 new doors in Latin America, over 40 new accounts in Spain and 11 Chrysalis shop-in-shops in Switzerland at the end of 2015 alone. At the recent Italy-based Vicenza trade show the brand’s Italian distributors opened 50 new accounts, while Portugal is set to have more than 190 Chrysalis shop-in-shops implemented before the end of 2016.

Read the full article to learn more about the continued success of one of the newest members of the Richline Jewelry family, Chrysalis.

Richline’s Mark Hanna on Jewelry Industry Efforts to Protect Wildlife

From JCK Magazine:

JCK: Why is Richline leading the charge for protecting endangered wildlife?

Mark Hanna: Everyone in the industry needs to protect, defend, and advance our industry’s reputation for trustability. We take this very seriously. Richline is currently working on many government/public/private initiatives including conflict minerals, made in USA, FTC jewelry industry guidelines and now, more visibly, wildlife and biodiversity conservation. […]

JCK: How can industry spread this message to consumers?

Hanna: Understand the issue and make a commitment to help the consumer understand it. In February 2014, the White House released the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking to stop the illegal trade of wildlife into the United States. In that strategy, President Obama called for a collaborative effort with foreign governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector in order to reduce supply and demand of illegal wildlife products and materials. […] I don’t think any of us want to explain to our grandchildren someday that elephants and rhinos went extinct on our watch, and that something could have been done to save them.

Read the full interview on JCK’s website to learn more about how those in the jewelry industry are working together to fight illegal wildlife trafficking.

Dennis Ulrich Named as 2016 Facets of Hope Honoree by Jewelers For Children

From the Jewelers for Children press release on Diamonds.net:

Jewelers for Children (JFC) will honor Stuart Lee of Signet Jewelers and Dennis Ulrich of the Richline Group as honorees for the group’s annual Facets of Hope event set for June 2016.

The event traditionally celebrates JFC’s fundraising efforts for the year, and its commitments to charity partners are announced, according to a JFC announcement.

[…]

Jewelers for Children was founded in 1999 by the U.S. jewelry industry with the mission of helping children in need. Since its inception, JFC has donated more than $ 48 million to programs benefiting children whose lives have been affected by illness, abuse or neglect.

Richline Group is proud to learn that CEO Dennis Ulrich will be honored by Jewelers For Children alongside Stuart Lee, Signet’s executive vice president of merchandising, at their 2016 annual event in Las Vegas.

Visit Jewelers For Children’s website to learn more or to enjoy highlights from the 2015 Facets of Hope event.

Mark Hanna Acknowledged For Social Responsibility Leadership by The CMO Club

Richline Group is proud and honored that CMO, Mark Hanna, is one of four prestigious winners of the 2015 CMO Social Responsibility Award.

From The CMO Club announcement:

The CMO Club is proud to present the winners of the 2015 CMO Awards in the categories for Content Engagement, Creativity and Story Telling, Customer Experience, Growth, Leadership, Marketing Innovation, Officers, Rising Star, Social Responsibility, and President’s Circle.

[…]

CMO Social Responsibility Award Winners – Based on a marketing executive’s demonstrated leadership in corporate social responsibility and/or cause marketing efforts for social and other charitable causes.

  • Mark Hanna, Richline Group
  • Paul Hillen, Cargill
  • Karen Quintos, Dell
  • Diane Scott, Western Union

Mark’s passion for social responsibility continues to ensure that these essential values are at the core of Richline Group’s present and future initiatives. It is rewarding to see Mark’s leadership acknowledged by his peers, and for Richline Group to be listed alongside several world-class companies making meaningful strides in sustainability and corporate responsibility.

All CMOs to be honored at The CMO Awards event on November 17th. For more information on the awards program and category winners, visit TheCMOAwards.com.

Richline Working With New U.S. Alliance to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

In 2014 President Obama launched the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance builds on this initiative through the formation of a new voluntary partnership between major companies and non-profit organizations to eliminate U.S. demand for ivory, rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products. Richline Group is in discussions with the newly formed U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance alongside fellow leaders at luxury brands like Tiffany’s and Ben Bridge Jewelers.

When asked about the need for collaboration with companies like Richline, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who serves as co-chair of the President’s Task Force, said:

“To put an end to this scourge of killing and trafficking rare and iconic wildlife, we need the help of companies and others outside the government. Already, many companies are leading by example by raising public awareness and implementing best practices to support sustainable supply chains that avoid contributions to illegal wildlife trade.

The creation of this Alliance will provide invaluable assistance in our fight. There is no question that how we deal with wildlife trafficking activities here in the United States will have an enormous influence on our global success in dealing with the crisis.”

Richline has always taken a strong stance against the use of illegally acquired wildlife and wildlife products. Our team is committed to the mission of this new task force, and we are working to integrate the goal of raising awareness of the scope of the wildlife trafficking crisis into Richline Responsible initiatives.

To learn more, visit the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance website.

Richline To Distribute New Ungaro Smart Ring

From Omate:

Inspired from the iconic design of the Diva perfume – a fragrance for Women which has been introduced by Emanuel Ungaro in 1983, the Ungaro ring aimed to empower modern women by connecting them to what matters the most – their inner circle.

Based on the “less is more” mantra; the Ungaro ring is leading a new generation of wearable fashion tech through the Omate platform.

[…]

The Ungaro ring will come in plated gold or silver along with an assortment of five gemstones: blue topaz; opalite; onyx; sapphire and ruby. The ring will be assembled by Richline Group – the World’s foremost Fine Tech Jewelry Manufacturer and Marketer, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. – in their Arezzo, Italy factory.

The collection will be available from November 2015 in the retail through Richline Group from $500 to $2,000.

Richline Group is proud of our continued partnership with Omate and their growing assortment of fine-tech jewelry. In addition to producing and distributing the Ungaro Ring, Richline’s jewelry-manufacturing experts worked closely with the team at Omate to help bring this design collaboration to life.

To learn more, read the full press release or contact our sales team for additional information regarding this new innovative collaboration between Ungaro, Omate and Richline.

Dennis Ulrich Elected as Jewelers For Children Board Chair

From IDEX:

The board of industry charity Jewelers for Children (JFC) has elected Dennis Ulrich of the Richline Group to the role of chair of the board effective October 1. Ulrich will replace Ruth Batson of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories who is to conclude a second, one-year term.

Richline Group is proud of the leadership role that CEO, Dennis Ulrich, is taking in this essential industry initiative.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve as board chair of this organization an that works tirelessly to help children in need,” said Ulrich. “What Jewelers for Children has accomplished in just 18 years is nothing short of extraordinary. I feel privileged to follow in Ruth’s footsteps, and look forward to working alongside a truly inspiring group of industry leaders on behalf of such a important cause.”

To learn more about how the jewelry industry is working together to help children in need, visit Jewelers for Children.