Business Tips: What Is the Value of NFT?


A diamond is forever.

I’m sure many of you have heard the above copy before. It’s a tagline made by Mary Frances Gerety for De Beers in 1949. Grammar sticklers with poor taste like me may feel something wrong with the sentence, but it has attracted so many people and was chosen as the best tagline of the twentieth century in 1999. The reason why this tagline came up to my mind is because I’ve just started to read “Master of the Game” by Sidney Sheldon. Embarrassingly, I’ve only heard of the title but never read it. In the prologue of the story, the main character, the old lady recalled her younger days, and the people coming into her life were described as ghosts.

The first ghost is Jamie McGregor, who went to South Africa in 1860s to seek his fortune, and the description of the diamond rush grabbed my interest. I’m not interested in material things, let alone jewelry, and so, I am all the more interested in the structure how diamonds, gold, etc. frenzy people. Academically, the value of things is composed of three factors: rarity, utility, and timeliness. Let’s put aside timeliness here because things get too complex. First of all, diamonds are no longer so useful at least in industrial activities because we can artificially make them. Let’s rule out utility. Next, what about rarity? Do you still believe diamonds are rare?

What is the value of a diamond?

Do you think you can tell the difference between natural and artificial diamonds? Apparently, I don’t think so. Relax, I know. Even though we can’t recognize natural diamonds by appearance, the fact remains that natural diamonds are rare compared with ordinary ores. Well then, did you know that diamonds were not as rare as most of you imagine? The rarity of diamonds has been instilled in us by production control by De Beers, the king of the World’s diamond market. In other words, the rarity of diamonds is artificial.

Mind you, I didn’t mean to criticize De Beers. On the contrary, I think their production control is amazing because people can find joy just from one of natural ores, but one question remains: why I feel the value of diamonds is spoiled a little by knowing the fact that diamonds are artificially rare. It’s the same feeling that I had when I learned the basics of NFT art. NFT technologies make it possible to preserve the rarity of digital objects. In a sense, NFT art is artificially rare, the same as diamonds, which I somehow don’t think can be equivalent to non-digital art works that are inherently unique and rare. By the way, the heading image is “The Great Wave” by Hokusai, cited from an article saying British Museum has started to sell NFTs of Hokusai’s works.

Having said that, I like new and innovative technologies like NFT. They always stimulate my curiosity, and I’m working on a project to make NFT of our furniture. Doesn’t make any sense? Let me explain. It’s a collaboration with a game company. The company makes some 3D pictures of game characters sitting on our chair, and only the owner of the NFT can buy the special version chair. In addition, I’m just thinking about displaying the characters as special hidden characters in our virtual condominium, Hokkaido Rock House in the future. It has yet to be seen whether such an NFT project goes well with furniture business or not, but I can at least enjoy the new learning opportunity provided by NFT.

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Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.