True love goes through the blockchain.

A place in eternity is available for just under 20 euros. At this introductory price, customers of the Christ jeweler can now write their love in the Bitcoin blockchain with a length of 340 characters – as an addition to the wedding ring. Moreover, the data chain is forgery-proof and can hardly be manipulated, and entries cannot be deleted. “There are numerous ways to show your affection and love, from rings to love locks to tattoos – but I can take them all out of the world again,” explains Stephan Hungeling, co-managing director of Christ since 2019. Moreover, he said, “If it’s in the Blockchain is anchored, it is no longer reversible.”

As per the, the traditional company, founded in 1863 and owned by the private equity company 3i since 2014, has high hopes for the blockchain project. To this end, the company is cooperating with a Hamburg start-up that developed the Forever on the Blockchain brand – and is its first major customer. Above all, the additional offer is intended to generate additional sales for Christ. And it has a particular financial charm: Instead of buying expensive jewelry well in advance, the blockchain certificate is only created at the push of a button. In this way, neither the warehouse nor the balance sheet is burdened.

But the test project stands for more. Numerous companies, from medium-sized companies to corporations, are groping their way into the world of blockchain technology. The topic is much more widespread in the financial sector – public databases are also increasingly being checked for suitable applications. Experiments are also being carried out to determine the extent to which supply chains could be better tracked.

Fear of contact with the blockchain world

However, there does not seem to be a good relationship between expenditure and income for many companies in retail itself. In many cases, start-ups target a tech-savvy target group on their own with a crypto product. Established companies, on the other hand, are more skeptical. Steps in practice are therefore observed with curiosity. For example, Christ has thought about paying with cryptocurrencies, reports Hungeling, and possible registration of watches via the blockchain is also being considered. The love messages in the blockchain are intended to act as a test run. “In this way, we reduce fears of contact with the technology,” says Hungeling.

After all, they indeed existed in the 2,000-strong Christ workforce. Start-up and CEO found each other through mutual contacts. The first conversation “lasted exactly 7 minutes and 23 seconds” and ended with a fundamental interest, start-up founder Sven Hildebrandt recalls today. A few days later, he traveled from Hamburg to Düsseldorf. In the first step, the sales department of the jewelry chain had to give its approval. “It was important that not only I believe in it but above all the colleagues in the branches who are in daily contact with the customers,” reports Hungeling.

A positive signal came from sales, but a few requests: Planted a tree for every digital message sold. The Bitcoin blockchain, in particular, is being criticized worldwide because of its enormous energy consumption. At the same time, however, Christ sales expressly favored the Bitcoin blockchain as the technical basis – to advertise with the most major crypto project.

Christ does not start in the online shop with the certificate, which accounts for 40 percent of sales. Instead, the branches will start selling the additional digital offer. The reason: the entry can be combined with any piece of jewelry. In the beginning, however, the focus is on the wedding rings, which are mainly bought offline. That also meant that the staff spread across Germany had to be familiar with the product by the official start in early October.

Instead of using carats or finger measurements, sellers will also be familiar with crypto basics. Start-up partner Hildebrandt trained around 500 Christ employees in a total of nine webinars. “Some branches chose a blockchain expert, others took part in full,” reports the founder. According to Hildebrandt, initial skepticism quickly subsided during the training courses. Instead, the branch employees often made suggestions that the project team had not even had on their radar. “Jewelry for christenings or confirmations was repeatedly mentioned as a possible reason for selling – here, too, one wants to give the recipient something to take with them for eternity.”

 New territory for the team and technology

The long-established company also broke new ground technically with the blockchain project. “It took time and energy until all systems could communicate properly with each other,” says Hungeling. The risk: The packages, available as “eternal message” or “infinite moment,” had to be integrated into the established IT process. That meant a lot of interface work on the cash register system or the wedding ring configurator. Around a year passed from the first exchange to the product launch. “We want to earn money with the product – and not lose customers because they have a little more effort,” says Hungeling.