September 13, 2016
Near field communication, or NFC, is best known for enabling mobile payments. Two companies are now trying to apply the technology to something more glamorous: The diamond industry.
Thinfilm will print NFC tags that show a smartphone user the profiles of individual diamonds — the stone’s history, its measurements, its grading and other information. Sarine already offers this information in online profiles, but not directly connected to a diamond itself. The two companies are trying to use NFC tags to make the information more accessible to wholesalers and commercial buyers.
NFC allows electronic devices to communicate when they’re within inches of each other in the real world. A diamond customer would bring a smartphone close to a printed NFC tag to pull up the diamond’s profile.
“We’re empowering jewelers and consumers to instantly and seamlessly connect to an identical digital version of a diamond through the tap of a smartphone,” Thinfilm corporate communications head Bill Cummings told Mashable.
It’s a creative use of NFC for an industry that likely hasn’t crossed the minds of many familiar with the technology. Thinfilm is working on producing NFC tags for products that fall victim to counterfeiting or have high value, like wine and spirits, specialty foods, luxury goods like handbags and pharmaceuticals.
In the gemstone industry, retailers mainly rely on barcodes and QR codes, Cummings said.
“This is one of the first instances of the type of NFC we’re talking about being produced through a printing process unique to the diamond and gemstone industry,” Cummings said.
The NFC tags will be printed on paper sold with diamonds wholesale or eventually on tags attached to rings in stores.
Sarine, headquartered in Israel, is demonstrating the technology this week at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair.