Sotheby's to sell first blockchain-verified jewellery piece

Later this week, Sotheby's is due to put a highly valuable Paraiba Tourmaline ring from Austrian jeweller Schullin under the hammer which will be verifiable using blockchain technology – said to be a first for the auctioneer.

The handmade platinum ring – which features a 49,88ct natural oval-cut Paraiba Tourmaline and 60 baguette-cut diamonds and is worth an estimated £140,000-£180,000 ($160,000-$205,000) – is due to be auctioned on November 9.

It will be sold with a blockchain certificate provided by UK tech company Database of Native Assets (DNA), which provides an untamperable digital record or 'token' for a physical item, giving it a unique identity, that is transferred to buyers at the time of purchase and is trackable throughout its life cycle.

The system uses the Kadena layer-1 blockchain platform, which operates on 20 chains concurrently and so lowers transaction fees paid to networks, shortens time in queues, and according to DNA has a lower environmental impact than other systems.

DNA's platform was piloted via a recent exhibition by US artist and skateboarding legend Steve Olson in New York – called Beautiful Explosion – which used the technology to provide certificates for all the works sold.

"From first sale through to every resale, DNA guarantees provenance which boosts confidence for buyers and sellers alike," according to the blockchain company. "For brands this also creates a new and more meaningful connection with consumers/owners which remains in place for the entire lifecycle of the product."

The luxury resale market has grown to $33bn, according to DNA, citing figures from market analysis company Bain. It says brands have little visibility of this or even of customers who purchase their items through third parties.

Once a physical item is given its unique identity and added to the blockchain, the owner can add whatever information they want – such as detailed descriptive information, brand policies, images, and designs – as well as additional security features for anti-counterfeiting such as NFC chips or QR codes.

"We’ve explored a number of digital verification solutions in the past but none work as effectively and seamlessly as this one," said Lukas Schullin, manager at Schullin Wien.

"For us, simplicity and ease of use is what sets it apart. The fact it can be used by anyone makes it the perfect solution for all of our customers including those who may not be particularly tech savvy," he added. "It offers the power and security of the blockchain without all the headache of having crypto currency and a digital wallet."

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