NFTBAZL’s display of NFTs and physical objects in Dubai

The Metaverse has emerged, unwrapping huge and varied potential for the jewellery world in Blockchain space and its tokenizing technology of NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens). With the dawn of 2022, designers and entrepreneurs suddenly seem enthused to get their foot in the metaverse door, an urgency driven by an underlying anxiety of being left behind.

Across the jewellery world, there is talk of tokenizing. NFTs for physical/digital jewel pairing is on the rise and more jewellery designers are dropping into platforms inhabited by artists and creating NFTs that are paired with physical jewels, usually for limited edition collections or one-of-a-kind, high value pieces.

At the same time, a quiet niche is emerging to serve owners of multiple NFTs to display these assets in the physical world via jewels and watches with intrinsic technology to display, in real time, the wearer’s NFTs and digital assets on the surface of the jewel.

Sapphire and diamond ring offered by Icecap Collectibles on Opensea

For collectors who want to keep adding wondrous pieces to their jewel chests while staying ahead of the tech curve, Icecap LLC in the United States is offering NFTs for luxurious, one-of-a- kind jewels via the platform OpenSea. Collectors can own a physical piece virtually, and even fractionalize the ownership of these extremely high-end pieces, while Icecap vaults the pieces on their behalf, says founder and CEO, Jacques Voorhees. When the collector decides they want to have or wear the physical piece, they redeem the NFT and Icecap sends the piece to them, Jacques explains.

Icecap’s bolder move is its use of NFT technology to create what it describes as “a transparent and efficient diamond market for investors.” Icecap’s NFT diamonds are sold via OpenSea, at “Our NFT is essentially a certificate with a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certificate number inscribed on it and represents ownership of a real diamond.”

Sales are growing exponentially, but since most customers are not familiar with crypto, Blockchain, or NFT technology, sales are primarily done the old-fashioned way via sales representatives that facilitate the process of purchase, also giving clients the option to pay in US dollars instead of crypto. Meanwhile, crypto-competent clients make direct purchases in cryptocurrency via their personal account with OpenSea and store the NFT in their MetaMask wallet.

Icecap offers a variety of options following purchase: Redeem the NFT and receive the diamond by insured courier; leave the diamond in the vault (operated by an insured third-party contracted with Icecap); receive the NFT and hold it in a Blockchain wallet; custody the NFT and diamond with Icecap. The buyer receives a Bill of Sale showing ownership of the NFT and can at any time redeem the NFT and take possession of the diamond. Similarly, the process could be reversed: “The owner sends us the diamond, and we retokenize it for trading purposes. At present only about a third of the NFTs we sell are redeemed for the diamond immediately, the rest are vaulted for the clients. The process is transparent and efficient, and our clients love it,” Jacques asserts.

Top: Simone Faurschou Blockchain NFT
Bottom: Simone Faurschou Blockchain pendant

For Danish designer Simone Faurschou, her venture into the digital crypto world has yielded unexpected success: In the few months since the September 2021 launch of her Blockchain NFT jewel pairs on Known Origin, Simone sold four pairs from her limited edition of 12. “Introducing NFT technology to my jewellery practice has opened up new ways of intertwining different media that inspires me, while still staying true to the traditional craft of goldsmithing and jewellery making,” Simone shares. “I am continuing to explore how the two worlds can coexist and I expect more digital/physical pairs will follow.”

Toqn NFT, Constellation Collection

Similarly, Toqn, a jewellery brand of Team Coinedge in Bangalore, India teamed up with NFT platform Ambrr in Abu Dhabi to offer NFTs paired with its physical 18-karat gold Constellation collection. Chief technical officer Mohit Golecha says the company uses a patented process to produce modular jewellery in ethically mined gold for Toqn. “We joined Ambrr to bring brand value, recognition, and appeal to a younger demographic.” The collection is in five series of 12, each representing the 12 zodiac signs and defined by a gemstone: Series one is emerald; others are diamond, ruby, pink diamond, or blue sapphire.

Each NFT is offered with the accompanying physical jewel plus accessories that can be used to convert the central component into a ring, pendant, or earring. Shaped like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, the component can fit into another to build more voluminous necklaces or bracelets. Toqn NFTs are auctioned on Ambrr in BUSD, a USD-backed stablecoin on the Binance Smart Chain, probably one of the first to offer jewellery NFTs in USD-pegged stablecoin. The auction for each is open for three months while new product is added every eight weeks, he adds.

(Related: Jewels on the cusp of revolution)

Private NFTs, hosted on secure custom platforms, as artistic deeds of ownership befitting exquisite high-end jewels is the new frontier, says Estelle Ohayon, CEO of joint venture NFT BAZL established by digital assets platform, Elitium and US blockchain veteran GDA Capital. “We create NFTs for wondrous, one-of-a-kind jewels for exclusive jewellery houses and host these on private platforms for the buyer of each piece.” Using an in-house digital design team, she works in partnership with the jewellery creators to produce NFTs that attempt to match the pieces on offer. “For example, a creator of pieces in Europe asked us to go to the depths of wonder of the fabulous gemstones in their collections and capture some of this in the NFTs which were subsequently offered on a private platform to the buyer of the piece. The NFT thus becomes a deed of ownership, with its own intrinsic beauty and is a precious add-on to the jewel.”

As digital assets increase, the desire to display these in the physical world is increasing too. Eduardo Jarillo, a young entrepreneur in California uses tech that allows the wearer to display NFTs on a diamond encrusted pendant. Eduardo has converted an Apple watch into a pendant set with diamonds, accompanying 14-karat gold chain. Working through his company Ivy J Jewellers, he has produced two prototypes, a square version, Ethereum Blockchain and a circle, Ethereum World. These are offered as a physical/digital pair on the platform Rarible. “The circle is popular and is my favourite because it represents a porthole, a way to view the digital world from the real world, bringing the metaverse to the real world.”

NFT display pendants by Ivy J Jewelry

However, the metaverse future seems to be in the hands of the boldest designers who are now attempting to follow fashion’s lead and create virtual jewellery using “virtual reality skins”, for the purpose of avatar glamming in gaming and other digital events. Tech futurists predict that inhabitants of the unfolding metaverse will consider digital garments, jewellery, and accessories as more powerful statements of their taste and personality, as opposed to the physical contents of their closets and jewel chests. The potential is phenomenal and for now, no one wants to be left behind.

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