The gem and diamond industry has been slow to adopt digital solutions and still relies heavily on back-and-forth transportation and the human eye. Engemma strives to make the industry more transparent, profitable and environmentally friendly through automation and digital transformation. To realise this goal, Engemma partnered with VTT.
High-quality image database increases transparency
Fast and environmentally friendly certification
New business opportunities for B2B, B2C retailers and end customer
Digital solutions create transparency
Engemma is a startup that provides digital imaging systems for photographing gems and diamonds. Their services include gemstone and diamond imaging, database creation and ecertification.
Engemma’s imaging solutions are now in the commercialisation phase with various patent applications pending. Their vision is to bring transparency and unlock new business opportunities in the gem and diamond industry by offering a high-quality digital solution that enables the whole supply chain to examine gemstones remotely.
To achieve this, VTT and Engemma joined forces to create a plug-and-play imaging station and the accompanying software.
Bringing gemology to the 21st century
Gems and diamonds are a multi-billion dollar industry. However, the methodologies have not seen significant development for a hundred years. Gemstones are transported to gemologists, who grant certificates so that the gemstones can be sold. With the mines, polishers, laboratories, traders and retailers located in different hotspots around the globe, shipping or flying the gemstones to a different place for each stage of the supply chain has been the standard solution.
The traditional approach has various downsides:
- The transport process is slow.
- Transporting the gemstones is economically and environmentally harmful.
- The customers can’t validate that the paper certificate is really for the gem they are buying.
- It’s hard to eliminate human error in the certification process.
- You can’t create a webstore for gemstones when, due to a lack of high-quality imaging, the consumer can’t study the stones before buying.
To answer these questions, Engemma wanted to create a proof of concept of an automated gemstone imaging station. They already had the optics and the cameras but were lacking a partner with strong expertise in research and development to build the equipment needed to automate the imaging process.
Gemstones tend to break easily when being handled by a machine, so VTT created a robot hand that is able to carefully grip gemstones of widely varying forms without breaking them. VTT also helped Engemma build lighting equipment that allows the apparatus to inspect a gemstone from all angles.
We have thoroughly enjoyed VTT’s expertise not only in product research and development, but also in public financing instruments and patents.
A solution that revolutionises the industry
The resulting solution is a fully automated, digital imaging station that links all the images to a cloud-based gemstone database. This brings transparency and efficiency to an industry plagued by slow processes and obscurity.
Automation removes the need to ship gemstones across the world and makes the solution fast, reliable and environmentally friendly. The automation also reduces human errors in certification, as Engemma’s product is more accurate than the human eye.
The service-based business model creates new opportunities in the early stages of the supply chain by reducing the number of middlemen. With Engemma’s imaging solution, mining companies and polishers can provide the traders and retailers with solid proof of the quality of their gemstones without a third-party inspector. The imaging machine is plug and play and affordable, which makes it a valid tool for gemstone companies around the world.
The solution also creates transparency that opens up new business opportunities and models for the benefit of both B2B and B2C retailers and end customers. The imaging solution offers information that is easy to access and comprehend – even to an untrained eye – which creates trust in the quality and price of the product. At the same time, the cloud-based gemstone database works as a platform for new gemstone businesses.
A research partner that enables technological and commercial breakthroughs
“Step by step since the project started in 2016, we have learned that VTT’s slogan, ‘beyond the obvious,’ is on point. The project has been fruitful and VTT has helped our team adopt a research mentality that pushes us forward. The imaging project has brought forth several smaller innovations that have commercial potential,” says Auraneva.
“VTT’s reputation gave us, a small startup, credibility that opened up avenues for new partnerships. I also believe that our expertise in the field of imaging and gemstones has provided VTT with new concrete tools and business opportunities. I would even go as far as to say we have become colleagues,” he continues.
In the future, VTT and Engemma aim to concentrate even more on the early stages of the gemstone supply chain by developing expertise in inspecting rough gems. Incorporating machine learning and machine vision could also take Engemma’s imaging solution even further.