Consider a knot to be a diagram in a plane--- i.e. a drawing of a finite connected planar graph (loops and multiple edges allowed) whose vertices are 4-valent with cyclic ordering for the incident edges of each vertex, two non-consecutive of which are called "over" and two "under" (with an additional connectivity condition to ensure there is one component)--- modulo Reidemeister moves. If we can find a disc in the plane such that a representative for the knot K intersects the boundary of the disc at two points, and intersecting K with a disc closes to give a non-trivial knot (and the same for intersecting K with the complement of the disc), then the resulting sub-knot is called a connect summand of K. A knot with no connect-summands is called prime.
Schubert (1949) proved that every knot has a unique prime decomposition, up to permutation of the factors. The proof is geometric and uses Seifert surfaces. See for example Theorem 7.12 of Burde-Zieschang. There is also a smooth proof-- see e.g. Ryan Budney's paper. Recent work of Korablev concerns prime decomposition of virtual knots, where there is no Seifert surface in sight of course, but the proof is also geometric, and involves modifications of thickened surfaces in which the virtual knot is embedded.
Question: Is there a purely diagrammatic proof for unique prime decomposition of knots? (no topology or geometry, definitely no Seifert surfaces, diagrammatic algebra and combinatorics only). Who is it due to?
Unique prime decomposition is a fairly elementary property of knots, so it feels like there should be a diagrammatic proof- but it is also a global property, whereas the diagrammatic approach is local/quantum, so I don't know. There is a weakly analogous problem which I'm looking at for coloured knots, in which there is an easy diagrammatic proof (but the statement is also much weaker in that context).
Note that quantum knot invariants are diagrammatic (Jones polynomial, HOMFLYPT, Kontsevich invariant), and we know that these see a lot, so a direct proof of unique prime decomposition using the Jones polynomial, for example, would qualify.