Signet Jewelers said last week that it would test new technology in some of its Kay Jewelers locations that will confirm the authenticity of the gems it sells. The move comes after allegations arose in May and June that the company was swapping diamonds. During its second-quarter earnings call, Signet CEO Mark Light said that "every customer’s diamond is like a thumbprint; they have all unique marks to it,” and the technology "will mark those on a digital screen and then we’ll have the ability to digitally send over that picture to our customers via email and keep it in our own files." Signet also said it already has a “multistep process” in which a gem is passed through a number of hands and is tested in front of the customer to confirm that the shopper is receiving what’s been promised.
Total Retail's Take: Despite the fact that Signet announced that its earnings were down during the second quarter, and it also anticipates the new gem authentication technology and training associated with it will cost $3 million, the company believes implementing the new technology is an important step that will create even more transparency for its customers. That transparency will build trust, which in turn would be a huge competitive advantage for the jeweler. We'll have to wait and see what the outcome is this fall.