Spectral Signatures, Blockchains, and Immortality


In 1928, Sir C.V. Raman and his colleague K.S. Krishnan observed, using the smallest amount of filtered sunlight, that every material has its own distinct spectral signature. A spectral signature is how light’s frequency is altered after it comes in contact with a material. Our environment is altered by our presence and we are altered by it. Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for discovering the Raman Effect.
Using Raman Spectroscopy, we can now scan a diamond and capture its unique spectral signature. Women like to say “this diamond is really talking to me” when they find a diamond that they love – that’s the diamond’s spectral signature. Up until now, very little has been done with the individual light fingerprint of a diamond; we have spent more time weighing, measuring, and plotting our diamonds than listening to what they were saying to us through their sparkle.
With the digitalization of just about everything from movies, songs, and photographs up to the “clouds”, it’s not inconceivable to imagine a time when there will be a diamond cloud, a virtual universal database where all legitimate, natural, safely sourced diamonds are recorded. Using blockchains, the same way bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are stored, we can use incorruptible digital ledgers to bring worldwide transparency to an industry veiled in secrecy for too long.
In this Diamond Utopia that I imagine, a person could someday be able to use the smart device of their choice and access each diamond’s unique spectra. Since these spectra would be digitized, all pertinent information associated with the diamond would be accessible: its clarity, color, cut, carat weight, and supporting documentations (like Fully Bonded Appraisals) to tell the owner what it is, what it is worth, where it came from, and history of ownership. We would be able to distinguish not only real diamonds from lab grown diamonds, but also distinguish from the newly-mined to the previously-owned. We could finally know the diamond’s provenance.
Still, some people are against creating universal blockchains for diamonds. They believe it is a way to discriminate against “used” diamonds. Right now, anybody can take a diamond that has been bought and sold countless times and walk into an appraiser and get a new report, a new title. Like a criminal who has negotiated a deal with the authorities and is given a new identity, the old diamond is born anew.
I’m sure it’s very naïve of me to think that the jewelry industry will do all the necessary steps to finally make buying diamonds totally transparent and that all the players in the game would be willing to follow the rules, but a Diamond Guy can dream.
Hundreds of years from now, the diamonds we own will be in the hands of someone else. If we want them to know the diamond’s family tree, we have to take the appropriate steps now so our diamonds can tell their stories forever.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®