NFTs have entered the worlds of Diamonds and beauty pageants!
The Miss Universe Power of Unity Crown has been converted into investment-grade NFTs.
It may not seem like much, but it presents another angle for the deployment of digital assets with the physical representation.
Icecap, the company behind the NFT project in partnership with the Miss Universe organization and prominent jewelers, Mouawad has been able to successfully get these tokens into the web3 space.
The implications of this are many.
First of all, apart from expanding NFT use-cases, we are seeing an entree into a new field. This entree gives a fresh perspective on how we use, deploy and implement web3 technologies.
Secondly, it provides and unlocks liquidity as diamonds are investment assets. So, anything that derives value from them will have similar properties.
Thirdly, the NFT aesthetic expansion provides a basis for a long-term emotional component for holders.
When we heard about the project, we were quite interested in talking to the people behind it.
Jacques Voorhees, the founder, and CEO at Icecap gave insight into his project and much more.
Jacques Voorhees Explains How NFTs Are Opening Up The Diamond Industry To Investors, and How Fractional Ownership Can Be A Game Changer For High-End Jewelry.
Jacques was forthright about his project.
His perceptions on the web3 industry are nothing short of legendary.
Of course, having a background in technology helped and this gave him the much-needed edge in moving the Icecap Miss Universe NFT project forward.
The pow-wow provided upfront and straightforward awareness of how innovation is moving web3 objects into everyday activities.
It is quite a feat!
For our editorial team, these types of projects are proof of how web3 and associated technologies will change the world.
Jacques Voorhees Founder and CEO at Icecap
How can investment-grade diamond NFTs gain prominence through fractional ownership?
Jacques Voorhees, Founder and CEO of Icecap: I don’t believe investors can benefit from fractional ownership of investment-grade diamonds. Icecap is specifically NOT fractionalizing investment grade diamonds.
That market works best when the owner of the token can at any time redeem it for the physical diamond.
There’s a one-to-one relationship in other words.
That lets the investor enjoy the efficiency of frictionless token trading, while still benefiting (if desired) from a diamond’s inherent portability and concealability—key aspects of it being a desirable hard asset to own.
This would not be possible if we fractionalized ownership of investment-grade diamonds.
What are the benefits of the fractional ownership of investment-grade diamond NFTs?
But if I rephrase that question without the “fractional” word, here’s the reply: Investment grade diamonds have the benefits of gold and silver as a hedge against inflation, but they historically are less volatile.
That said, hitherto diamonds have not been a viable investment vehicle because the marketplace—organized around jewelry—is too inefficient for the needs of investors. If you buy a diamond today, you will likely lose half its value as soon as its “driven out of the showroom.”
The diamond hasn’t changed, but the owner’s ability to sell it at the same price level simply doesn’t exist.
When NFTs represent ownership of diamonds stored safely in a vault, everything changes.
The NFTs can be traded in a near frictionless marketplace—and at the same price level.
The “spread” drops from around fifty percent, to close to 1-5%.
Thus, NFTs make possible something that was never before possible: an efficient, low spread, liquid market for investment grade diamonds.
What’s the backstory behind the fractionalized ownership of the Mouawad-created Miss Universe crown? Do you consider this as a potent investment?
The Power of Unity Miss Universe Crown is a one of a kind item.
I, personally, have been in the diamond industry my full career, and was the person who introduced online trading to that industry with the launch of Polygon Trading Network in 1983.
When NFTs came into existence, and I realized they could be used to open up the diamond market to investors, I decided to launch Icecap.
I’ve known the Mouawad family for decades, as part of my earlier work in that industry.
In a pure coincidence, I decided to reach out to the Mouawads to see if there might be some collaboration opportunities with NFTs, right at the point where Fred Mouawad had decided to reach out to me with the same idea.
Once we started talking, we realized NFTs could provide a whole new way to sell jewelry, and the first candidate should be the Miss Universe crown, as it was such a unique and iconic piece.
We believe buyers of the fractionalized units are more likely to be collectors than investors, per se. The Miss Universe pageant has a global fan-base and the opportunity to own a piece of the crown is very unique.
What are the benefits to buyers of the hard asset NFTs?
Voorhees: Again, it varies between the investment buyer and the collector buyer.
The investment buyer is motivated almost entirely around ROI or at least a hedge for protecting wealth. An investment buyer of one of Icecap’s investment-diamond NFTs is buying something that will have similar benefits to gold and silver: protection of wealth in an era in which fiat currencies are dropping in value rapidly.
A collector buyer of a Miss Universe crown NFT would be motivated more by the satisfaction of owning this extremely unique, storied, and glamorous object.
I’ll probably buy one of the Miss Universe NFT’s myself, and give it to my wife on the grounds that she’ll “…always be Miss Universe to me.”
Let’s see a dozen roses compete with that line, and the gift that goes with it!
What is the voting mechanism on the fate of the Power of Unity Crown? Are there any DAOs involved?
Voorhees: There are a number of legal/structural questions we’re resolving right now.
One of them is whether the Power of Unity Crown should—itself—become a DAO.
So the exact voting mechanism, the fate of the crown, and the possible involvement of DAOs are all questions we’re currently considering.
How will the Power of Unity NFTs change the diamond and jewelry industry?
Voorhees: It will basically open up an entirely new way to sell high end gems and jewelry.
Lower price point items, it probably won’t make sense for.
However, the idea of being able to own a piece of very expensive, and perhaps famous, items could have some interesting applications.
For example, perhaps the British Crown Jewels could—via fractionalized NFTs—be gifted to the citizens of the UK.
The possibilities are limited purely by one’s imagination.
How can Diamond and Jewelry NFTs influence the values of specific jewel pieces as investments?
Voorhees: If we’re talking investment buyers, then the significance of diamond NFTs is that they could open up the diamond industry to a vast new demand.
For example, today roughly a third of the global, annual, demand for gold is from investment buyers.
Today, only a trivial amount of diamond purchasing is from investment buyers.
If that could change, and Icecap is already changing it, then suddenly billions of dollars of new demand could enter the diamond market.
That would be very good for the diamond market. Icecap’s customers to date are 100% investment buyers.
These are people who’d have never considered buying diamonds for investment before.
But with Icecap’s NFT model, and other features of our program, they are now comfortable doing so.
Every Icecap sale is a new customer entering the diamond market.
What has Mouawad’s response been to the project?
Voorhees: Very enthusiastic, because—again—tokenizing the Miss Universe crown was their idea. We were simply the right technical partner to execute on it.
Again, I’ve known the Mouawad family for decades, so this is a bit like working with friends.
How has the Miss Universe Organization responded to the project?
Voorhees: They’re very excited about it.
The Miss Universe Organization has already been looking at various ways to use NFTs to leverage their own content, and to build interest in the pageant.
This was very much in line with their strategic goals.
What is the technology behind the NFT project?
Voorhees: We will use a second layer chain, based on the Ethereum blockchain itself, but we haven’t chosen which one.
We’re also considering various minting engines for the creation of the fractionalized NFTs.
Why was Dubai chosen as the project’s location?
Voorhees: Both Mouawad and Icecap have headquarters’ locations in Dubai, even though Icecap’s primary office is in the U.S.
In a broader sense, we consider the U.S. operation the center for our Investment Diamond NFTs, and have long planned for the Dubai DMCC headquarters to focus more on unique pieces, high end pieces, fractionalization, and the overall collector market.
How has the Dubai Blockchain Center helped improve the NFT project’s standing?
Voorhees: Marwan Alzarounni, the president of the Dubai Blockchain Center, has really rolled out the red carpet for Icecap, and for this project in particular.
They’ve been very useful at putting us in touch with the right people, helping us with events, and in other ways.
The existence of the Dubai Blockchain Center is a testament to how committed to the crypto and blockchain space UAE actually is.
What role are digital assets playing in enhancing the diamond trade?
Voorhees: To be honest, at the present time, very little.
Icecap is in the process of changing that.
If we’re successful and, judging by sales to date, we seem to be, the diamond and jewelry industry could change dramatically.
What’s the next big project for Icecap?
Voorhees: One of our strategic goals for 2022 is building our own NFT trading platform on our website.
Right now we are working with OpenSea, and that will continue.
But having our own trading platform for the diamond NFTs will yield important advantages for our customers, in terms of liquidity, low bid/ask spreads, etc.
When it comes to new tokenization projects, we have some exciting ones in mind, but they can’t be mentioned at this point.
Why is Icecap focused on diamonds?
Voorhees: Most people in the diamond industry don’t know this, but when I started the Polygon trading network (www.polygon.net) my goal was to use computer technology to operate a trading platform for diamond investors.
This was back in the late seventies/early-eighties, when a lot of money was going into diamonds for investment in the U.S.
But the market wasn’t ready for it, as there was no two-way, low-spread marketplace.
My goal was to create one.
After several years, I failed, and steered Polygon into being a tool for the diamond industry itself, jewelers and suppliers and so forth.
I gave up on the investment market.
A couple years ago when I first learned about the technology of NFTs I realized that was the missing link!
That’s what would enable an investment market in diamonds to actually function. So, all the enthusiasm I had back in my twenties, rushed to the fore again, and I’ve been full time executing on this vision ever since.
So why is Icecap focused on diamonds?
Because diamonds are the hardest asset of all. And in addition to them being portable, concealable, and a wonderful hedge against inflation, now—for the first time—they can come into their own as an important part of a hard asset portfolio.
And at Icecap, we’re seeing it happen.
Are Diamond NFTs a girl’s best friend?
Voorhees: No, the underlying diamond is a girl’s best friend.
Diamond NFTs are an investor’s best friend.
Is Icecap considering any other industries apart from diamonds? Please can you give us the reasons for your answer?
Voorhees: There are many tangential markets we might expand into, such as other gemstones (emeralds, rubies, etc.), finished diamond pieces, high end watches, and so forth.
But right now we want to stay focused.
We’re facing an extremely large market opportunity, possibly in excess of $10 billion.
We’re going to have our hands full just developing that new market for diamond investment.
What is the inspiration behind the Icecap brand name?
Voorhees: I was playing around with synonyms for diamonds, or some way to work diamond into our name without saying “diamond.”
Sometimes diamonds are referred to colloquially as “ice.”
I thought about what we might do with that word, and “Icecap” sprang into my head.
Then I realized that “cap” could be considered short for capital.
And I realized I’d stumbled on the perfect name for the company.
What led you to the web3 industry?
Voorhees: The tech giants have too much power.
Web 3 is what returns that power to the individual.
Web 3 is all about users taking control of their data.
At Icecap, we’re helping investors take charge of their diamond assets by using—ultimately—Web 3 tools.
It’s a perfect match.
What will the relationship between diamonds and NFTs be like in the next decade? Can you give us a picture?
Voorhees: NFTs are ultimately a new, cutting edge, immutable way to prove ownership of an asset, either a digital asset or a real-world asset.
The more valuable the asset, the more critical that the owner’s connection to it be inviolate and provable.
We’re using the benefits of NFT “title-proving” technology to open up the diamond market to investors.
But I envision a world where—eventually—every diamond will have an NFT behind it. Well, every diamond from a simple engagement ring, on up.
So, let’s play with that old adage about diamonds being a girl’s best friend.
Yes, the diamond is a girl’s best friend.
But the diamond NFT ensures that friendship will last forever.