A label on Seawater cultured Pearls,
what an idea!
In the wine business, how does one differentiate between Grands Crus?
First of all, before even opening the bottle, the label gives relevant information. So why not do the same for pearls? It is from this idea that the Heart of Pearls project was born.
Jean-Pierre Le Pollès worked for more than years on this technological innovation. To make such a small label -a few microns long- that is almost invisible to the naked eye, with a technology that does not alter the pearl’s quality. A pearl that becomes as genuine as a banknote, simply because it uses the same technology.
Is this real? What is put on this famous label?
The proof of concept was shown in Switzerland, in Basel, last June at the prestigious Baselworld show. International professionals admit they have been looking for an anti-counterfeiting solution since a dozen years and consider this way very promising.
As for the label itself, it may contain information on the production place, production date, the producer, the geographical area or other information based on local demand or regulation.
All this is contained in a small particle, smaller than the size of a pinhead.
What is the good of it? How is it legible if it is so small?
We are in a world where traceability is becoming a pre-requisite for many everyday products. The explosion in the volume of counterfeit goods globally represents several billion dollars per year. The pearls market is not immune; traceability will increase market value and size.
The problem of reading the label has been at the heart of brainstorming. It is now possible to create completely invisible solutions but in this case the required readers are finally financially out of reach of stakeholders. There is no point in implementing this type of technology if nobody can read it or if it requires non-standard and expensive readers. In the HOP project, we imagine the possibility to read the label directly from a smart phone.
Up to now, we had to find a compromise between visibility and the cost of the reader; this has been achieved in the proof of concept. The standard reader used costs less than fifty Euros and can be connected to the USB port of any standard market computer.
Can the pearl be damaged by this label?
No, because at any time the label can be removed without a trace. Certainly it will be destroyed, but the professional who will decide to do it, will be certain of the traceability up to him.(see The Journal of Gemmology Volume 34)
Is this label a guarantee for the quality of the pearl ?
It is similar in the wine business; some producers refuse to market certain vintages when the harvest is poorer, or they use another label, another brand which does not impact the excellence of their reputation. It will be the same thing for pearls, but the labeling responsibility remains with the pearls producer, not with the label printer.
This process is already known!
There are many anti-counterfeiting methods on the market. In the field of pearls all the current ones are very expensive and / or damage the pearls. You cannot create innovation in a secret laboratory regardless of the opinion of the involved professionals. Some of my interlocutors are my best ambassadors and I want to thank them for promoting the idea among professionals, which explains why you may well have heard about the HOP project.
Will this bring value to pearls?
Bankers say a financial market must be transparent, fluid and based on trust to be profitable. Apply the same recipe. It should work now that the technology enables transparency; fluidity and confidence will follow.
I am well aware that there will be great change in habits, many will prefer the past that no longer exists, but I expect most of all those who believe, as I do, that job well done should be signed, the producer rewarded for his knowledge, patience or simply his work. He can be proud of its name, its brand which will cross over continents to be easily recognized closer to the final players.
Tracing pearls & Visibility
Trivializing pearls origin identification
Tracing cultured pearls need a visible technology to be efficient. It must be implemented on demand after the pearls cultivation periods in order to avoid losses and allow selection.
HOP project is focused on traceability that gives maximum information possibilities. The goal is to have something completely different that does already exist. Something stronger like a banknote that can be read by anybody, anytime, anywhere.
Heart Of pearls project is proud to open a new unique way, and a very expected solution to all professionals involved in pearling industry that need to promote their brand through to the end customer, using a strong anti-counterfeiting solution.
On the HOP tiny label (few hundred microns) can be ‘printed / engraved’ logos, numbers, letters, drawings and so on.
The HOP particle can be removed when needed without damaging the pearls in any way.
The tiny HOP label could be read anytime. Anytime you need to have the information. Not in few hours or few days, just in time you need to be sure that the pearl you have in your hand, is really produced in the area or by the producer very well known for his know how, as expected.
HOP label can be read anywhere, even with a small device like a magnifying glass. Anywhere, just with a simple device you will have relevant information. Of course if you are in better conditions and have a laptop, a Smartphone and web connection you will have access to additional information.
Readable by anybody
You have not to be a specialist to access the information. It is designed to be affordable for everybody without specific or scientific knowledge. The information is there under your eyes, you just have to look at it and discover easily the production area, the vintage, the professional ID card number, the production country, the professional category and much more.
Readable at low cost
Unfortunately, the reading cost increases with the invisibility of the technique and at the end nobody read nothing anymore. That why HOP project is an 'enough' visible solution so we can avoid it that way.
To see the HOP particle, the small standalone 60X microscope with UV and light LEDs costs less than 5€ and a standard reader that can be connected on a USB port to any standard market computer costs less than 50€.
As mentioned above, on the HOP tiny label can be ‘printed / engraved’ logos, numbers, letters, drawings and so on. Of course it is not endless due to the size of the particle.
On top of that, HOP particle could also indicate if the producer follows a special quality process like ISO 9000, and/or has a special certification (example; The PGI logo could be print on the label if needed and allowed).
We have to distinguish what it could technically be indicated on the tiny HOP label, that what the producer is allowed to put on it.
By way of conclusion
The entire project is turned around spirit of openness, transparency and fluidity, not invisibility, not secret and not private preserve.
Traceability & Law
We have not found any overall legal definition of “traceability”. In fact it is clearly embedded in the professional standards for each relevant discipline.
- For manufacturing; (1)
“Traceability is the ability to determine the origin of manufacture or destination of supply of any given item and the detailed facts relating to such origin or destination. For manufactured items, the traceable facts will include the production batch identification number (eg leading elsewhere to dates, production details and quality test documents etc) and other allied matters. For sold items, it will include the address of each customer, the date of purchase and, if relevant, the id of the item purchased.”
- In electronic money systems it is; (2)
“the degree to which value-transfer transactions can be traced to the originator(s) or the recipient(s) of the transfer....”
- For the International Vocabulary of Metrology (3)- Basic and General Concepts and Associated Terms. ISO/IEC Guide 99:2007 it is :
“Property of a measurement results whereby the result can be related to a reference through a documented unbroken chain of calibrations, each contributing to the measurement uncertainty.”
For pharmaceutical or food industries you will find other relevant definitions. Maintaining manufacturing traceability is a legal requirement in particular in the pharmaceutical and aeronautical industries. It means that throughout the supply chain you can be assured of only the highest quality.
All those roads converge towards the rules of origin.
In recent years the "origin of goods" has become a priority issue within the WTO and The United Nations through its eighth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in order to attempt to harmonize the rules on determining the country internationally that are mainly defined by the WTO works in these words: (extract) (4)
- “Rules of origin” are the criteria used to define where a product was made. They are an essential part of trade rules because a number of policies discriminate between exporting countries: quotas, preferential tariffs, anti-dumping actions, countervailing duty (charged to counter export subsidies), and more. Rules of origin are also used to compile trade statistics, and for “made in ...” labels that are attached to products. This is complicated by globalization and the way a product can be processed in several countries before it is ready for the market.
- The Rules of Origin Agreement requires WTO members to ensure that their rules of origin are transparent; that they do not have restricting, distorting or disruptive effects on international trade; that they are administered in a consistent, uniform, impartial and reasonable manner; and that they are based on a positive standard (in other words, they should state what does confer origin rather than what does not).
Outlook for the Future (extract) (5)
- One of the most critical drivers of this trend is increased consumer demand to know more about the products they are buying – what is in them, where they come from, the conditions under which they were made, how they got to them, and even how they will be disposed of. Companies who invest in increased transparency, traceability and measurements of sustainability data along the value chain will have a competitive advantage in meeting this consumer demand. It is possible to see a future where technology enables the full product and supply chain information that consumers expect, and traceability will be the norm. Tools already exist to enable people to use their smart phones to scan a barcode and learn more about a product from a sustainability perspective; it is easy to see this trend evolving as technology improves, and as the ability to collect, analyze and share data becomes easier and cheaper.
By way of conclusion
What we can say is that the process is formally engaged and supported by the main worldwide organizations and is or will be embedded in countries laws at the end. Heart Of Pearls technology gives pearling industry stakeholder the possibility to anticipate customers and regulation needs.
Heart Of pearls project is proud to open a new unique way, and a very expected solution to all professionals involved in the pearling industry who need to promote their brand through to the end customer, using a strong anti-counterfeiting solution.
- Glossary of manufacturing, 2014, : http://www.glossaryofmanufacturing.com/t.html
- Oesterreichische Nationalbank - Dictionary -, 2014, http://www.oenb.at/dictionary/dictionary.jsp
- National Measurement System Chemical and Biological Metrology, 2014, http://www.nmschembio.org.uk/GenericArticle.aspx?m=412&amid=5786
- World trade organization, 2014, : http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/roi_e/roi_e.htm
- United Nation BSR , 2014, A Guide to Traceability ,p 30