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

Russia diamond producer Alrosa’s annual net USD profit drops

Russia’s sanctions-hit diamond producer Alrosa, opens new tab on Wednesday reported 2023 net profit of $925 million, down 15.2% from the previous year, Turnover was up 9.2% at 322.6 billion roubles.


Group of Seven leaders agreed in December to ban non-industrial diamonds from Russia by January, and Russian diamonds sold by third countries from March.


The European Union added Alrosa, Russia’s biggest diamond producer, to its sanctions list in January as part of punitive measures it has imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Detecting Lab-Grown Diamonds That Deceive

As Guy Borenstein gears up for Stuller’s Bench Jeweler Workshop in March, there’s one hot topic that will be addressed for the fifth consecutive year: synthetic diamonds.

There’s no shortage of available equipment to detect lab-grown diamonds. According to the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), there are about 40 instruments on the market that aim to discover natural versus synthetic diamonds.

“Five years ago, I asked attendees how many were screening for lab-grown diamonds [LGDs] and one hand went up,” says the director of gemstone procurement for the Lafayette, Louisiana-based manufacturer. That number has grown as the years passed, but “the majority are still not checking,” he adds.

Considering the recent number of undisclosed synthetics sent to labs, retailers should be more vigilant. In the last two months, four labs — comprising one in Italy and three, including the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), with US outposts — have reported incidents of synthetic diamonds submitted for grading under the guise of being natural. The labs, with their multitude of testing instruments and scientific savvy, have the manpower and resources to uncover the truth, but what about retailers, small manufacturers, and dealers? Other than sending every diamond purchased either over the counter or from a jewelry maker to a lab, what can the rest of industry do to guard against unknowing purchases of synthetic diamonds? Screen, baby, screen.

Marc Altman of B&E Jewelers in Southampton, Pennsylvania., started selling synthetics only last year, but has encountered them in newly manufactured goods sold to him as natural and in the engagement rings of unknowing clients. In the case of the new jewelry, he suspects it was an honest error.

“It was one ring,” he says. “It was a big order, and my assumption was that they also made jewelry with LGDs.”

Thanks to his GIA ID100 screening tool, he was able to spot-check trays of new finished jewelry. In the case of individual client rings, he’ll use a polariscope and the ID100 to determine if a diamond is natural or synthetic. In the last three weeks, he’s taken in two rings for resizing that were set with lab-grown and not the natural diamonds that clients thought they had. These examples are why screening goods on intake is critical and reveals deficiencies in disclosure by others at the time of sale. These are lawsuits in the making.

“If I didn’t [screen], my reputation would be at risk,” he says.

Fraud or flub?

Recent high-profile lab incidents aside — like the 6-carat synthetic laser-inscribed as a natural the International Gemological Institute (IGI) examined, or the pink, yellow and brown lab-grown diamonds posing as natural that Gem Science Laboratory (GSI) received — not every facility sees the spike in undisclosed synthetics as deliberate by fraudsters.

As a percentage of all diamonds examined, the number submitted as natural that turn out to be lab-grown is miniscule, says IGI CEO Tehmasp Printer.

“Ten years ago, 95% of parcels were contaminated,” he continues. “Today that number is reduced to half a percent. Initially, some did try to push LGDs as naturals and then labs learned how to ID the material. Now, there are mistakes and errors, but most are not intentional. No manufacturers are polishing LGDs and naturals in the same space; it’s done separately. The problems occur when parcels are given out for memo, and then there is a little switch here and there by mistake.”

Other incidents aren’t as clear. A recent GSI discovery involved mounted brown diamonds with linear graining and polished surfaces “to try to pass it as natural,” maintains Debbie Azar, cofounder and president of GSI. “While initial gemological observations would suggest they were likely natural, our advanced testing processes revealed they were CVD [chemical vapor deposition lab-grown diamonds] almost immediately by looking at their optical defects.”

No matter the intention behind the incidents, GIA takes each one — and steps to avoid them — seriously. For example, nearly every synthetic diamond that comes in for a report is inscribed as such. It also recently unveiled a same-day service for report confirmation of GIA-graded diamonds with or without markings. The service is offered to combat fraudulent inscriptions and for now is free.

“We should all be doing everything possible to ensure consumer trust,” says Pritesh Patel, GIA senior vice president and chief operating officer. Patel is responsible for lab operations. “One is not more vulnerable than another in the trade; everybody should be vigilant,” he cautions.

IGI screening parcel. (IGI)

Identification struggles

One of the toughest tasks in effectively screening jewelry today is the large quantity of small stones. The labs can handle it, but it’s tedious.

“Our biggest challenge is testing items encrusted with micro-pavé — jewelry set with 0.005-carat and smaller diamonds,” says Angelo Palmieri, president of GCAL by Sarine. “The challenge predominantly revolves around exercising patience.”

Then there are the hidden halos of diamonds; only visible diamonds can be easily checked on finished jewelry, so the trade must remember to flip pieces on their sides for inspection.

“We see as many naturals in LGD-set jewelry as we see LGDs in natural diamond jewelry,” adds Palmieri. “We see this happen with everybody, from high-end brands to sightholders. We’re not seeing 50% wrong — we see cases where one is natural or LGD. It doesn’t look intentional; it looks like it’s hard to keep track of the melee.”

Azar, too, is familiar with this wearisome process.

“Pieces with smaller diamonds and melee can be extremely time-consuming and the work is intricate,” she says. “We screen thousands of diamonds each day and we are detecting undisclosed laboratory-grown diamonds every day. They are usually in mounted goods where the mounting obscures full observation of the diamond.”

The solution? Enhanced quality controls such as constant and repeated testing when diamonds are loose and once they’re set. “Most companies don’t want to put in the hard work (and patience) that comes with thorough and complete testing,” observes Palmieri.

IGI screening lab. (IGI)

Tools and techniques

Like Altman, other retailers can use a microscope, polariscope and GIA’s ID100 in store — they’re compact and not too cost prohibitive.

Labs have myriad methods, including custom machines and proprietary research, to uncover the truth. There are also common methods used by all labs, like “Raman and photoluminescence spectroscopy” and “basic gemological testing,” among others, notes Palmieri.

GIA even has a facility in New Jersey devoted solely to the study of lab-grown diamonds to stay ahead of their developments. “GIA spends a tremendous amount on research,” notes Patel.

GIA Gem Instruments Polariscope. (GIA)

Lab consensus is that one instrument isn’t enough. Multiple tools and experienced operators are necessary to reveal undisclosed synthetics.

“Each instrument has its own advantages and limitations,” says Palmieri. “No one machine can give you all the answers.”

Azar urges the trade to adopt a deductive process for distinguishing between naturals and synthetics. For example, does it have garnet crystals? Then it is “definitively natural,” she says. But if a diamond has no inclusions or is type IIa, send it to a lab for testing. For mounted goods, “all bets are off because of the complexities,” she adds.

Dror Yehuda, president of Yehuda Diamond Company — formerly a maker of clarity-enhanced diamonds — shifted to manufacturing diamond detectors around 2015. That’s the year, he maintains, that lab-grown diamonds came to market with gusto. “The vast majority of my customers stopped carrying my Yehuda diamonds and moved to LGDs,” he reveals.

As a result, Yehuda built the first Sherlock Holmes detector, which is in its fourth generation. Three models now exist to accommodate a variety of needs and budgets.

To date, he has sold over 15,000 detectors worldwide.

“The second generation was tested by project Assure and was the only detector other than [De Beers’] SynthDetect that detected 100% of the LGDs,” says Yehuda.

The Assure Directory from the NDC is a resource for anyone trying to determine what instruments to purchase. Assure provides results of independent testing of a “wide range of diamond-verification instruments,” according to Samantha Sibley, technical educator at De Beers Group Ignite in the UK, which spearheads De Beers’ corporate approach to innovation.

Assure tests instruments for “diamond accuracy, referral rates, speed, and natural false positive rates [i.e., does the instrument pass any synthetic diamonds as natural?],” she continues. “The latter is the most crucial measure, and all De Beers verification instruments have a 0% false positive rate from both Assure 1.0 [2019] and Assure 2.0 [2022].”

Big Sherlock. (Yehuda Diamond Company)

Model behavior

Manufacturing house Stuller takes extreme precautions to safeguard against undisclosed synthetics. The firm has 62 pieces of screening equipment and 40 associates to run them. It even has an in-house GIA lab for melee analysis (Stuller staffers aren’t even allowed inside).

Starting at a quarter of a point, Stuller tests every diamond individually, screening more than 5 million units a year. Each stone is tested by at least two different technologies so one “can compensate for the weakness of another,” adds Borenstein. “In a year, 50,000 units out of 5 million go to the lab for further tests.”

The onus is on Stuller to test because of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations.

“Every player throughout the supply chain should test,” he urges. “We are still catching undisclosed stones on a daily basis, so just imagine how many of those are filtering into the market in an area with no screening at all.”

GIA iD100 instrument. (GIA)

Jay Seiler of Jay Seiler Jewelers in Duluth, Minnesota, is a risk taker. He has a Presidium tester to weed out cubic zirconia and moissanite when he buys gold, but no other equipment in-house to test diamonds. Why? He’s a private jeweler now after years of operating a big store. His clients are largely older, known to him, bought diamonds before the advent of lab-grown, and 90% of his work is custom. Still, what about the new diamonds he buys? Therein lies the risk.

By the time someone faces an undisclosed synthetic, however, it’s likely too late. “You won’t be able to defend yourself in court,” says Borenstein.

“Disclosure is not as explicit as it should be, and that will be a huge challenge for retailers in a few years,” says Palmieri.

Source: Rapaport

DCLA is the only laboratory in Australia that has tested every diamond submitted from inception.

GIA Expands Fraud Checks to All Labs

GIA says it has expanded its new verification service – aimed at combating “cloned diamond” fraud – to all its labs.

The Report Confirmation Service was launched last month in New York to identify lab growns being submitted for regrading as natural diamonds.

GIA says the service is now available at all locations. It will accept walk-in and courier submissions, will turn around loose diamonds in as little as 15 minutes, and will, initially, make no charge.

The service is available for GIA-graded diamonds with and without inscriptions. An original GIA cert is helpful but not essential.

An increasing number of lab growns are being fraudulently submitted for re-grading. They are cut to match the specifications of natural diamonds that have already been graded and inscribed with either with a GIA number (genuine or fake).

“Combatting this fraud is vital to protecting the public and ensuring their confidence in gems and jewelry – this is GIA’s mission,” said GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques.

Source: IDEX

US’s New List of Russian Sanctions Includes Diamond Exporter

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions against nearly 300 Russian entities in its latest round, including a company specializing in the export of rough and polished diamonds.

The new series of restrictions the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has applied marks the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and is also in response to the death of opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny, the Treasury said last week.

OFAC has targeted Almazyuvelirexport, Russia’s state-owned exporter of rough and polished diamonds and precious metals. The company was designated for “operating, or having operated, in the metals and mining sector of the Russian Federation economy,” it added.

Other companies that were banned included financial institutions, the defense industry, companies “providing backdoor support for Russia’s war machine,” and those connected to Navalny’s imprisonment.

Source: Rapaport

Lucara unveils diamond recoveries from Botswana mine

Lucara Diamond Corp. has announced the recovery of a 320-carat, 111-carat, and two +50-carat stones from its 100% owned Karowe Diamond Mine located in Botswana.

These diamonds were recovered from the direct milling of EM/PK(S) kimberlite ore from the South Lobe during a recent production run that saw additional recoveries of numerous, smaller +10.8 carat diamonds of high value.

The 320-carat is a gem-quality, top light brown diamond, while the 111-carat diamond is described as a Type IIa white stone of high quality. The two +50-carat stones add to these recent recoveries and are also Type IIa white diamonds. These recoveries add to the collection of significant diamonds recovered at Karowe and further solidifies Lucara’s reputation as a leader in the recovery of large, high-quality diamonds.

The recoveries from the EM/PK(S) unit highlight the continued success of Lucara’s mining operations at the Karowe Diamond Mine and reinforce the development of the underground mine which will target >95% EM/PK(S) ore during the first three years of underground production. The company’s adoption of advanced diamond recovery technology has enabled the continued identification and retrieval of these extraordinary diamonds and strong resource performance.

William Lamb, President and CEO of Lucara Diamond Corp., commented on the recent discoveries, stating:

“These diamond recoveries from the EM/PK(S) domain of the South Lobe further validate the quality and potential of the Karowe Diamond Mine. We are thrilled with the consistent success we continue to achieve in uncovering large, high-value diamonds, reaffirming Lucara’s position as a leading producer of large high-quality gem diamonds. Our team’s dedication to innovation and operational excellence continues to drive our success, and we look forward to delivering further value to our stakeholders through these extraordinary discoveries.”

Source: globalminingreview

GIA Opens New Lab in Dubai

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has launched a new laboratory in the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).

The location opened on February 19, the GIA said Tuesday. The lab will provide services only for clients operating in Dubai’s free trade zones and will be unable to accept submissions from other areas in the emirate, the GIA explained. However, in the near future the location will be able to accept intake from additional countries.

“The establishment of the GIA DMCC laboratory…adds significant value not only for our free-zone members but also for the wider industry, particularly when it comes to speeding up cycle times,” said Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of the DMCC.

The new Dubai lab will grade diamonds ranging in color from D to Z and weighing up to 3.99 carats, the GIA added.

Source: Diamonds.net

Lucara Diamond revives sales deal with gem trader HB Antwerp

Lucara Diamond has revived a gem sales agreement with polishing and trading company HB Antwerp, it said on Monday, five months after severing ties with the Belgian business.

Canadian miner Lucara said it will supply HB Antwerp with rough diamonds of 10.8 carats and above for 10 years from last December.

Lucara had terminated its relationship with HB Antwerp last September because of what it said was “a material breach of financial commitments”.

HB Antwerp declined to comment on the matter at the time and did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Monday.

Botswana, where Lucara mines diamonds at its Karowe project, has been reassessing plans to acquire 24% of HB Antwerp.

The two companies’ first diamond sales agreement was struck in 2020 and extended for 10 years in 2022.

Lucara said the purchase price for rough stones in its revised deal would be based on mutual agreement of the estimated value of polished diamonds, with a further payment based on actual achieved polished sales.

The pricing mechanism is expected to deliver regular cash flow, Lucara said.

“This partnership reflects our commitment to ensuring stability and sustainability in our operations,” said Lucara chief executive William Lamb.

Source: mining.com

HIGH QUALITY 113 CARAT TYPE II WHITE DIAMOND

Gem Diamonds Limited (LSE: GEMD) is pleased to announce the recovery of a high quality 113 carat white Type II diamond, recovered at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho on 17 February 2024.

A piece of white rock next to a magnifying glass Description automatically generated

Together with the 295 carat high quality Type II white diamond recovered on 8 January 2024 and a 139 carat low quality Boart diamond recovered on 17 January 2024, the 113 carat is the third greater than 100 carat diamond recovered to date this year.

Source: londonstockexchange

Are Lab-grown Diamonds Sustainable?

Human-made diamonds come with an appealing claim: Manufacturers say the stones are produced ethically using renewable energy. But many of the products do not meet that claim or their producers do not confirm the electricity sources they use. And, laboratory diamonds require a lot of electricity to produce.

In the United States, lab-grown diamond sales increased 16 percent in 2023 from 2022, says Edahn Golan, an industry expert. The stones cost much less than natural diamonds.

Bario Neal is a jewelry store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It uses lab diamonds. All of the stones are either made with renewable energy or neutral use of energy through the carbon credit system. Credits pay for activities like planting trees, which capture carbon.

Social media posts show Millennials and Generation Zs proudly explaining the purchase of their lab-grown diamonds for sustainability and ethical reasons. But the sustainability of production is questionable. A high number of manufacturers are not transparent, or open, about their operations.

Many of the manufacturers are in India, where about 75 percent of electricity comes from burning coal. The companies use words like “sustainable” and “environmentally-friendly” on their websites. But they do not release reports on the environmental effects of their operations.

Cupid Diamonds, for example, says on its website that it produces diamonds in “an environmentally friendly manner.” But it did not answer questions about the sustainability of its operations.

Solar energy is quickly expanding in India and there are some companies, such as Greenlab Diamonds, that use renewables in their manufacturing processes.

China is the other major country producing laboratory diamonds. The largest makers did not return requests for comment. They also did not release details about their electricity source.

More than half of China’s electricity came from coal in 2023.

Paul Zimnisky is a diamond industry expert. He said few companies are honest about their supply chains and their use of renewable energy.

Zimnisky said a lot of companies claim to make an “environmentally-friendly product when they aren’t really doing anything that’s environmentally friendly.”

How it is made

Lab diamonds have been in production around seventy years. Producers treat carbon to high pressure and high temperature. The idea is to copy the natural conditions that form diamonds underground. But, nature spends at least one billion years to make a diamond. Lab diamonds are complete in a few weeks.

In the past, the stones were used mostly in industries like stone cutting, mining and dentistry tools.

Over time the laboratories, or foundries, have gotten better at making stones. Production costs have dropped as technology improves.

Companies now can manufacture as many stones as they want and choose their size and quality.

Diamonds, whether lab-grown or natural, are chemically identical and entirely made out of carbon. Experts can identify between the two using lasers to examine their atomic structures.

Marketing battle

The lab diamond is competing in the same market as natural stones. Worldwide, lab-grown diamonds are now 5 to 6 percent of that market. And, the public battle for customers has begun.

The natural diamond industry and some experts argue that lab-grown diamonds will not hold value over time.

Zimnisky predicts that natural diamonds will continue to sell in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for engagement rings.

And the human-made stone?

“Five to ten years into the future, I think there’s going to be very few customers that are willing to spend thousands of dollars for a lab diamond,” he said.

Page Neal said she co-founded Bario Neal in 2008 to “create jewelry of lasting value that would have a positive impact on people and the planet.”

She added: “We want to only work with materials that we feel like our clients would be proud to own.”

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.