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Case Study: Luxury Watches and Jewelry

Updated: May 10, 2023

Examination of using LaserMinters for laser engraving phygital passports onto metal and alloy surfaces for luxury watches and jewelry products.

The counterfeiting of luxury watches and jewelry is as old as the watch and jewelry industries themselves. These industries have long used metrics such as "carats" and "karats" to describe the fineness and purity of a rare metal, or weight of a precious gemstone. However only jewelers and specialists in precious metals and gems can accurately evaluate the authenticity, age, purity, carat number and true value of most fine jewelry products. Fake diamonds and gemstones combined with electroplated metal alloys can be expertly crafted into highly convincing counterfeit products that would persuade the vast majority of consumers they are real. To most of us a $100 fake diamond ring using zirconia and gold-plated metal can look near identical to a $10,000 ring made from highly pure gold and real diamonds. In truth, most people determine the authenticity and value of a watch or jewelry item simply by the vendor source from where it was purchased. If it was bought from a well-known jeweler or brand store instead of a street corner then it is most likely authentic and highly valuable. However, with the explosion of online sales the use of the vendor source as a test for authenticity often doesn't apply. Consequently, the online market for selling counterfeit jewelry is rapidly growing in size.

Importantly, the provenance or verifiable ownership history of jewelry products can be extremely hard to determine - even if the items are indeed authentic and valuable. Every piece of expensive jewelry has a story to tell that can potentially add to the value of the item. However, without a collection of paper receipts and professional valuations the provenance of an item usually remains a mystery. Although most expensive jewelry displays unique or "non-fungible" qualities or characteristics, the lack of verifiable provenance data in the jewelry industry means that most products are in effect highly fungible (or interchangeable) in nature. Consequently the luxury watch and jewelry industries are in desperate need of a new digital provenance technology that allows every consumer to easily verify their items authenticity, provenance, track valuation history, and upload valuations and proof-of-sale documents to a connected cloud storage account for that item. In other words an online digital library for every unique jewelry piece to prove its chain of custody and tell its own story. The luxury watch and jewelry industries are in need of Phygital Passport technology.

Decentryk can recommend either the LaserMinter IR or the LaserMinter UV versions for almost every jewelry on watch application that involves hi-resolution small area engraving of QR codes onto any metal surface. The only main difference is that the IR version can mark QR codes down to 5mm x 5mm area while the UV version can mark down to 3mm x 3mm areas (ie: small enough for the side of a typical watch or the inside of a ring). However most watchmakers can reserve a large enough 5mm x 5mm space on the back casing of the watch for the LaserMinter IR version to be an ideal solution. Furthermore, the software allows jewelers to choose the option of marking the physical code as a linear bar code instead of a square QR code. This barcode option may produce better results on long narrow surfaces such as the side of a watch or the inside of a ring. Moreover, a long narrow barcode may be more easily scannable than a tiny 3mm x 3mm square QR code area.

Below are videos and images of a LaserMinter IR in our application lab applying a laser engraved QR code to (a) a stainless steel ring and (b) an electroplated metal alloy watch. Although the relative size and alignment of these engravings might not be to a jewelers standard the mark quality on 2 different metals is well demonstrated.

(a) Stainless Steel Ring

(b) Electroplated Metal Watchcase

As with all luxury watch and jewelry applications the primary concerns are design and aesthetics. The above images and videos are just quick examples on relatively large surface areas with not much optimization or design thought involved. They are only intended to demonstrate the speed and quality of a scannable mark for a relatively average size application. No doubt many customers will want to incorporate their own logo and text labelling (as in image a above). It is very easy to imagine that a watchmaker may want to engrave the entire back case with QR code, logo, certification images and product related text. This is all relatively simple to do with the LaserMinter software suite included with every LaserMinter IR. Moreover, some watch designers may choose to mark either the side of the watch or the front of the watch under the glass face with a 2D QR or 1D barcode. Regardless of the design of the productor coding choice, the LaserMinter IR and LaserMinter UV products are now invaluable tools for jewelers to add digital provenance, ownership history, item valuations and user experiences for fine jewelry and watches.



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