The US is reportedly rethinking plans to ban Russian diamonds amid industry pushback

The US is rethinking restrictions on Russian diamonds after a wave of pushback from the industry and nations heavily involved in the diamond trade, Reuters reported on Monday.

Western countries have placed stiff restrictions on Russia’s diamond trade, with fresh sanctions in December banning the gems throughout the European Union. That’s a step up from the initial sanctions, which previously allowed the trade of Russian diamonds that were polished in other countries.

Diamond traders now need to self-certify that the gems they sell are not of Russian origin. By September, diamond traders in the European Union will need to send diamonds through a certification system in Belgium before selling them.

Those measures have helped crimp Russia’s war revenue, given that the nation is one of the largest producers of diamonds in the world. Yet the US, one of the world’s largest diamond consumers, could pull back on its commitment to implement the latest restrictions, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Two sources said the US had pulled back on working with the G7 to implement the diamond ban and certifying that gems were not of Russian origin. Officials are “there but not engaging” in the discussion, one person said.

A senior White House official told Reuters the US would continue to work with the G7 on the Russian diamond ban, and that it had not changed its mind on the issue, but they noted several obstacles in enforcing the latest restrictions:

“We will want to make sure that we strike the right balance between hurting Russia and making sure that everything is implementable,” the official said.

The government has received pushback from firms and nations heavily involved in the diamond trade. Some African nations and Indian diamond polishers have complained about the latest restrictions, warning that the ban was faulty in its design and could raise problems in the industry. Diamond prices could also rise due to scarcer supply, they warned.

Virginia Drosos, the CEO of Signet, asked the US government to “stand against … the G7 Belgian solution,” according to a letter seen by Reuters.

De Beers, one of the world’s largest diamond miners, said it supported a ban on Russian diamonds but wants diamonds to be verified at the source of production, rather than in Belgium.

“The opportunities for, and likelihood, of Russian diamonds infiltrating the legitimate supply chain are in fact higher when you move further away from the source,” it told Reuters.

Source: Businessinsider

Russia’s Alrosa says output stable amid Western sanctions

Russian diamond miner Alrosa has no plans to reduce production amid tougher Western sanctions, its chief executive Pavel Marinychev said on Thursday.
The Russian finance ministry said last month that Russia will regularly buy diamonds from the sanctions-hit producer through a state fund, suggesting that Western restrictions on the country’s diamond exports may be having some impact.
Group of Seven (G7) countries banned direct imports of Russian diamonds in January. A European Union and G7 ban on imports of Russia-origin diamonds via third countries came into effect last month.

Source: Reuters

IDEX Price Report for 1 May: Prices Show Signs of Stabilizing

A diamond held by dop is polished on rotating automatic cast iron lap

Prices showed signs of stabilizing during April, with an even mix of increases and decreases in many sizes, especially fancy cuts. Overall there were more clusters of price rises than we have seen of late.

It’s too early to positively identify a clear upward trend, but the “end of the lab grown boom” is arguably having an impact. Lab grown prices are now so low – in some case just 10 percent of natural – that many jewelers are opting not to stock them in inventory and are only buying them on consignment.

In addition the G7 sanctions, in place since 1 March, are now starting to bite, and to slowly push up prices.

They have effectively restored the De Beers monopoly, although its rough production is down by almost a quarter so far this year (as is Rio Tinto’s) and rough sales remain sluggish (down 18 per cent on last year). Meanwhile polished exports from India fell by 27 per cent during March to $1.2bn

Highlighted changes

Rounds

1.00-1.24 ct. D-F / VVS2-VS1 +4-5%, F-I / IF-VVS1 -1-7%

2.00-2.99 ct. D-G / VVS2-VS2 +2.5-5%, G-N / IF-VVS1 -2-5%

4.00-4.99 ct. E-I / VS1-2 +1-4%, K-M / VS2-SI1 -1-2%

Fancy Cuts

1.25-1.49 ct. D-I / VVS1-SI1 -1-6.5%

1.50-1.99 ct. D-E / VVS1-VS2 +1-5%, I-J / IF-VS2 -4.5-5.5%

2.00-2.99 ct. D-H / VVS2-VS2 +2.5-3%, H-N / IF-VVS1 -2-5%

Source: IDEX

Minespider and Star Diamond to launch G7 compliant Diamond Passport

Minespider, a leading traceability platform for tracking minerals and raw materials, and Star Diamond Corp., a Canadian corporation engaged in the exploration, acquisition, and development of mineral properties, have partnered to launch the Diamond Passport and comply with the new G7 rules.

G7 countries have put a direct ban on Russian diamonds and agreed to establish a verification and certification mechanism for rough diamonds to prove their origin, ensuring diamonds are not mined, processed, or produced in conflict zones.

Having over 6 years of traceability experience with companies like Google, Minsur, LuNa Smelter, and others, Minespider introduced its own Diamond Passport in March this year. The Diamond Passport contains all key information about the diamond, including its provenance data, the diamond’s unique DNA, such as size, shape, color, carat, clarity, cut, and specific inclusions (natural flaws or imperfections), certificates from gemological laboratories and other documentation about the diamond.

“Through our partnership with Star Diamond, we intend to significantly strengthen the company’s position in diamond mining at large-scale mining spots in Canada. The diamond industry requires a new reliable mechanism for the verification and certification of rough diamonds based on traceability, and we are proud to support this significant change with our robust technology and extensive experience in mineral traceability.” said Nathan Williams, CEO and Founder, Minespider.

Star Diamond Corporation is striving to ensure that diamond mining in Saskatchewan is conducted responsibly, with a focus on improving environmental performance and accompanied by strong social performance.

“Star Diamond is excited to partner with the team at Minespider as we prepare for the eventual production and retailing of our world-class conflict-free Saskatchewan diamonds. It is our aim to provide wholesalers/retailers and end purchasers with a complete provenance report on all of our gem-quality diamonds. This will ensure that end purchasers may rest assured that the diamond they purchase for their loved one is conflict-free and ethically produced in Canada.” added Ewan Mason, President and CEO, Star Diamond Corporation.

Source: globalminingreview

Most diamonds that have ever been or will be mined are already above ground.

Antwerp World Diamond Centre CEO resigns amid Russia diamond sanctions

Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) chief executive Ari Epstein resigned unexpectedly on Thursday, the AWDC’s board of directors said in a statement.

A spokesperson for AWDC, Belgium’s main diamond industry group, said on Friday that Epstein, who had been CEO for 13 years, did not wish to communicate about the reason for his sudden departure, but Belgian financial newspaper De Tijd reported that Russian diamond sanctions had been the cause of conflict between the diamond sector and the Belgian government.

AWDC did not say who would replace Epstein as CEO. Epstein did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via LinkedIn.

Following an EU ban on Russian-origin diamonds that took effect on March 1, rough and polished diamonds have to enter the EU and G7 countries with documentary proof and declarations that the stones are not of Russian origin.

Antwerp’s diamond dealers have said they are facing long and costly delays as a consequence.

Source: mining.com

Belgian police conduct raids after suspected Russian diamonds seized

Antwerp police conducted six raids on Wednesday and made four arrests as part of an investigation into some diamond imports suspected of being Russian-origin, Antwerp’s public prosecutor office said in a statement on Friday.

The investigation is the first related to the EU and Group of Seven (G7) import ban on diamonds from Russia that began on Jan. 1 to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. A wider ban on Russian-origin stones imported via third countries began on March 1. Russia’s state-owned company Alrosa is one of the world’s largest diamond miners.

The investigation was launched after customs officials seized diamonds in late February, the statement said. A spokesperson for the prosecutor said three shipments had been confiscated.

The Belgian city has for centuries been a global diamond hub, particularly for rough diamonds, though 90% of polishing is now done in India.

Sources familiar with the matter said the value of the three seized shipments was in the millions of euros. One source specified the overall value was around 8 million euro ($8.64 million).

A spokesperson for the prosecutor declined to comment on the combined value of the shipments. In the statement, the prosecutor’s office added that documents and digital media were seized during the raid.

Source: Reuters

Would be interesting to know how they test for origin

Russian diamond ban creates costly delays, Antwerp diamond dealers say

Antwerp’s diamond dealers face long and costly delays following an EU ban on Russian-origin diamonds that took effect on March 1 and has slowed imports, they say in a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, dated March 13, said the disruptions would erode the competitive advantage of the centuries-old Antwerp diamond trade. It was addressed to Belgium’s main diamond industry group, Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), and requested a review of the new procedures.

Any impact is likely to be reduced by sluggish market conditions. Diamond inventories are high and prices have fallen. Paul Zimnisky, a global diamond analyst, said last month that prices were down 25% from their early 2022 peak.

Al Cook, CEO of mining company Anglo American’s De Beers’ diamond business, has said the miner would reduce production this year in response to surplus supply.

“While we fully support the decisions taken by Belgium, the European Union, and the G7 nations, in regards to the sanctions of January 1st 2024, the implementation of the measures to enforce the sanction has adversely affected all of our operations,” said the letter, signed by over 100 local firms.

“The intention was to prevent the flow of diamonds from sanctioned states, but the reality we face is the severe disruption of our supply chains, and alienation from the rest of the global trade.”

A Belgian government official said the delays were temporary and were easing.

The EU and Group of Seven (G7) countries agreed to ban direct imports of Russian diamonds to their markets as of Jan. 1 and before phasing in a full ban on Russian-origin stones via third countries from March 1 because of Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Russia’s state-run Alrosa, which together with De Beers is one of the world’s top diamond producers, was also placed under sanctions by the EU.

Diamond hub
Antwerp remains the world’s biggest diamond hub though 90% of stones are polished in India. Belgium pushed hard for the G7 to adopt a version of its proposed plan to try to prevent Antwerp from losing more business after major Western jewellers began eschewing Russian stones.

Diamond dealers said their shipments have been held up for over a week at customs even if the gems were straight from African producers.

The Belgian government official said shipments pending would be processed within 24 hours.

“The indirect ban coincided with the Hong Kong Diamond Fair which is an annual peak period… This, in combination with the expected teething problems caused some initial delay in processing of shipments during the first days,” he said.

Diamond dealers say they expect more problems when the additional tracing requirements take effect from September.

“We see the procedures will cause Antwerp to further lose competitive advantage… rather than deal a meaningful blow to any sanctioned products,” the letter said.

“The current trajectory threatens the existence of Antwerp’s diamond industry, a heritage of six centuries.”

The head of the AWDC, Ari Epstein, said the group would soon present the new measures, adding it was “acutely aware of the challenges and disruptions this timing may have caused”.

“Let me be unequivocally clear: the violation of sanctions is criminal in nature and not taken lightly by governments or our organization. Our commitment to compliance… is unwavering and absolute,” Epstein said in a statement.

Source: Dmitry Zhdannikov and Julia Payne mining.com

Sarine Blames Economy and Lab Growns for 2023 Loss

Sarine recorded a $2.8m loss for 2023 as it battled macro-economic challenges in China and beyond, as well as increasing disruption from lab growns.

The Israel-based diamond tech business made an $8.8m profit the previous year. Revenue for 2023 was down 27 per cent to $42.9m.

Sarine said sales of equipment and the recurring scanning revenues that came from them had been hit by lower consumer demand and manufacturers’ reduced polishing activities.

Sales to India, its biggest single market by far, fell 27 per cent to $22m.

However it did sound a note of optimism after a “challenging year”, suggesting that a sharp fall in lab grown retail prices could lower retailers’ margins and make them less attractive.

“While it may be too early to call this a new trend, the slowdown could indicate that the natural diamond and LGD segments of the diamond jewellery market are reaching a new equilibrium,” the company said.

Sarine said it had launched its Most Valuable Plan (MVP) for the optimal planning of small rough diamonds and had adapted rough planning technologies to lab growns to attract new customers and generate additional recurring revenues.

Source: IDEX

US to Require Self-Certification for Russian Diamond Ban

The US and the UK will require importers of polished diamonds weighing 1 carat and above to apply a “self-certification” declaring the stones are not of Russian origin, while the UK will also expect documentary proof in some cases.

The new US guidelines are a follow-up to last month’s directive by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) implementing tighter restrictions on loose Russian diamonds and those set into jewelry that had been in part or fully manufactured or “substantially transformed” in another country. The rules address a loophole that had been in place since the US first imposed sanctions in March 2022.

The US Customs and Border Protection released an update to the bans beginning March 1, calling for importers to upload a PDF on official company letterhead, it said last week. For nonindustrial diamonds, the self-certification should state: “I certify that the nonindustrial diamonds in this shipment were not mined, extracted, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Russian Federation, notwithstanding whether such diamonds have been substantially transformed into other products outside of the Russian Federation.”

Those bringing in diamond jewelry or unsorted diamonds should submit a document saying: “I certify that the diamond jewelry and unsorted diamonds in this shipment are not of Russian Federation origin or were not exported from the Russian Federation.”

The UK government’s Department for Business and Trade has followed suit, noting that supplier declaration of compliance with the sanctions “may be acceptable,” but that “traders should be prepared to provide documentation to demonstrate evidence of a stone’s supply chain.” That evidence can include the original Kimberley Process (KP) certificate issued when shipped from the diamond’s origin country, an invoice, a certificate of origin issued by a chamber of commerce, or a diamond origin report. The government also distributed rules for diamonds manufactured in another country that were outside of Russia before March 1.

Last week, the London Diamond Bourse (LDB) held an emergency meeting to discuss the ban due to the “absence of clarity and guidance…as to how we might conform with the restrictions…in terms of paperwork and provenance” before the March 1 launch, it said. The exchange noted it was in an “invidious” position and felt its members and the greater trade should avoid importing polished loose diamonds above 1 carat until there is “less ambiguous guidance.” The bourse may put out updated guidance following the release of the new rules.

While neither the US or the UK has given a timeline as to how long these guidelines will be in effect, it’s likely the less restrictive rules will only be valid during the “sunrise period,” which ends August 31 and allows importers time to become accustomed to the new measures. The European Union has stated that it would accept documentation proving non-Russian origin during the initial timeframe but will expect all stones passing through Antwerp to be placed on a traceability system beginning September 1. At that point, restrictions in all Group of Seven (G7) nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the UK, as well as the EU — will expand to include diamonds weighing more than 0.50 carats.

For its part, Canada also produced a statement noting it would comply with the March 1 curbs against indirect imports of Russian-origin diamonds.

“Canada has been at the forefront of imposing economic barriers on the Putin regime,” said Mélanie Joly, the country’s minister of foreign affairs. “Along with our allies and partners, we have imposed severe sanctions on the Russian regime, and we will continue to do so to hold [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his enablers to account.”

The current self-certification rules are likely to provide a temporary solution to concerns industry groups voiced over a proposal that all diamonds would be funneled through Antwerp for screening and certification prior to arriving at their destination countries, a move the organizations feared would harm the rest of the industry.

On Saturday, India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) sent a message to members urging them to “review guidelines meticulously,” and “exercise utmost caution when dispatching shipments to G7 countries.” The council also advised exporters to “maintain meticulous records of all documents of import and purchase.” A large portion of the world’s rough is manufactured in the country before making its way to consumer nations.

“It is crucial to emphasize that while some of the G7 countries/EU have already issued guidelines to their importers, a few are still in the process of finalizing theirs,” the GJEPC said. “We believe even the issued ones are initial guidelines and are subject to changes [and] updates during the course of time.”

Spurce: Rapaport

Alrosa Sales Rise Despite Sanctions

Alrosa’s revenue rose in 2023 as the Russian diamond miner continued to sell despite sanctions.

Sales increased 9% to RUB 322.57 billion ($3.55 billion) for the year, the company reported Wednesday. However, net profit fell 15% to RUB 85.18 billion ($939.3 million).

Alrosa and its diamonds have been the subject of sanctions by the US and other Western countries since Russia’s war in Ukraine began in February 2022. Major markets including India and China still permit imports of Russian diamonds. On March 1, the US will introduce stricter measures banning the import of 1-carat and larger stones of Russian origin, even if they went through manufacturing in a third country.

The miner’s announcement was its second full results statement since March 2022. On both occasions, it withheld information on the destination of its sales, which usually shows Belgium, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India to be the largest buyers.

Last week, De Beers reported a 36% drop in 2023 revenue for a total of $4.27 billion, with the diamond unit recording a net impairment of $1.56 billion, reflecting a weaker demand outlook.

Source: Rapaport