Canada’s Lucara Diamond has appointed Eira Thomas, a co-founder of the company, as chief executive as it looks to modernise the diamond industry through the acquisition of a blockchain platform.

Ms Thomas, an industry veteran who discovered the Diavik diamond concession in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories along with her father, will replace William Lamb as chief executive. Mr Lamb has served as CEO of Lucara for more than a decade.

The change comes as Lucara looks to shake up the opaque system of buying and selling diamonds in an attempt to boost transparency to attract a younger generation of diamond buyers.

Lucara said it had acquired Clara Diamond Solutions, a secure digital platform, for 13.1m of its shares, worth $29m. It hopes to attract the diamond industry to trade on the platform so as to better match sellers of rough diamonds with buyers such as the large jewellery companies.

Because every diamond is different, producers sell them in batches to customers, or at regular sales known as sights.

Ms Thomas said Clara would enable miners to directly sell the specific diamonds customers want rather than bundling them together in packages she dubbed “smarties”, for their variety.

“It’s an age-old problem that has existed for 100 years — of how you sale diamonds on a consistent basis,” Ms Thomas said. “We’ve had the technology for the last five years. This change is inevitable and is going to happen.”

An estimated $15bn of mined diamonds were sold in 2016, with about 90 per cent of the gems then going to India to be cut and polished, according to consultancy Bain & Co.

Clara uses blockchain, the technology behind digital currency bitcoin, to track diamonds as they move through the supply chain. That would help provide a greater level of assurance to consumers about where their diamonds comes from, Ms Thomas said.

“Consumers want to know that their diamonds are produced from mines that are good stewards of the land, that have social policies, that are progressive, that we think about our contributions to our communities,” she said.

Diamond producers are increasingly looking at blockchain as a solution to improving traceability of diamonds. De Beers said in December that it is also working on a pilot platform using the technology.

“We believe that Clara will not only modernise the entire diamond sales process but unlock additional value for all participants across the diamond market,” added Lukas Lundin, chairman of Lucara.

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