G-7 and EU looking at ways to track and trace Russian diamonds

Russian diamonds

Group of Seven nations and the European Union are discussing ways to track Russian diamonds across borders, a move that could pave the way for restrictions on their trade in future, according to people familiar with the matter.

Previous EU attempts to sanction Russian gems have run into resistance from importer nations such as Belgium who argue that the effort would be futile because transactions will simply shift elsewhere without a mechanism to trace precious stones.

A diamond’s origin is clear at the start of the supply chain when it is issued a certificate under the Kimberley Process, which was designed to end the sale of so-called blood diamonds that financed wars. But after that they can become difficult to track.

Cut and polished stones are often intermingled at trading houses and the original certificate will be replaced with “mixed origin” documentation, making it near-impossible to keep track of where Russian diamonds are eventually sold.

The US has sanctioned the Russian mining giant, Alrosa PJSC, which accounts for about a third of the $80 billion global trade in rough diamonds. But the measures have had limited impact as much of the trade flows through other markets such as India.

The people with knowledge of the G-7 and EU discussions said a solution is not imminent, because tracing polished diamonds in a global market is extremely complicated. Still, two of the people said the G-7 could issue a statement on the matter as early as next week as part of the effort to maintain pressure on Russia as its war in Ukraine approaches the one-year mark.

Source: Mining.com

China backs Russia in opposing bid to redefine conflict diamonds

Russian rough diamonds

China has joined Russia in opposing an effort to redefine conflict diamonds to include those sold by individual nations, as a rift between Western and pro-Russia nations jeopardizes the process for certifying rough diamonds as conflict-free.

Ukraine, Australia, Britain, Canada, the European Union, the United States and civil society groups were pushing to place Russia on the agenda at this week’s Kimberley Process (KP) meeting in Botswana and to broaden the KP’s definition, under which only gems funding rebel movements are “conflict diamonds”.

Russia, the world’s biggest producer of diamonds, has said the situation in Ukraine has “no implications” for the Kimberley Process.

China agrees that the Ukraine issue falls outside the scope of the KP, the country representative told the meeting, according to three sources. China joins Belarus, Central African Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Mali in backing Russia’s stance within the body, which seems unlikely to come to any agreement.

“It’s clear that this is posing really an existential crisis for the Kimberley Process,” said Hans Merket, a researcher at Belgian non-governmental organisation IPIS, who is a member of the civil society group.

“It has become impossible to even discuss the KP’s problems and shortcomings, let alone that there would be any room for convergence on how they can be addressed.”

China’s KP representatives did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The KP certification scheme, designed to eliminate the trade in so-called “blood diamonds”, was set up in 2003 after devastating civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, which were largely financed by the illicit diamond trade.

The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition and some member states have been arguing to broaden that definition for years, but it is difficult to do as the KP makes decisions by consensus.

Jacob Thamage of Botswana, the current KP chair, said that more participants now believe reform is needed.

Source: mining.com

Russia says it may buy diamonds from sanctions-hit Alrosa

Alrosa rough diamonds

Russia may buy an as yet undetermined amount of rough diamonds from sanctions-hit producer Alrosa through its state precious metals and gems repository Gokhran, the country’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday.

The United States imposed sanctions on state-controlled Alrosa in April, complicating the Russian company’s operations in the global diamond market, with the aim of cutting off a source of revenue for Russia.

“We do not rule out the possibility of Gokhran purchasing diamonds produced by Alrosa. The amount will be determined later,” Siluanov told reporters.

Gokhran is generally more focused on purchases of precious metals from Russian domestic producers than diamonds, he added.

Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds, was behind about 30% of global output in 2021 and competes with Anglo American unit De Beers.

Its sales, mainly to Belgium, India and the United Arab Emirates, totalled $4.2 billion in 2021.

Gokhran bought diamonds worth $1 billion from Alrosa during years of weak demand caused by the global financial crisis.

Source: Reuters

Pink Russian Diamond May Rank Among World’s Most Valuable Gems

Russian Pink diamond

A 14.83-carat pink gem found and cut by Alrosa PJSC is expected to fetch one of the highest prices ever for a diamond when the Russian company puts it up for sale later this year.

The oval stone, named The Spirit of the Rose, has been certified by the Gemological Institute of America as fancy vivid purple-pink with excellent clarity, excellent polish and very good symmetry, said Alrosa spokeswoman Evgeniya Kozenko. The sale is planned for November, she said.

The Spirit of the Rose diamond.

Colored diamonds, formed by impurities such as boron or nitrogen, are the most expensive and rarest, with pink and red stones fetching the highest prices. The Spirit of the Rose may be one of the most expensive pink stones ever, according to Eden Rachminov, the chairman of the board of the Fancy Color Research Foundation.

He estimates the potential price at between $60 million to $65 million.

Sotheby’s set the record for any gem ever sold at an auction in 2017, with its $71 million sale of the 59.6-carat Pink Star to Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group The stone was mined by De Beers, and dethroned the Oppenheimer Blue, which fetched $58 million in an earlier sale at Christie’s.

Kozenko declined to comment on how much Alrosa hopes to raise from the sale, but said that The Spirit of the Rose will be the most expensive stone ever polished in Russia. The company is still considering how to conduct the sale, with a decision expected next month, she said.

It’s a good time for a sale, as pink stones are about to get even rarer after Rio Tinto Group confirmed earlier this year that it was shutting its giant Argyle operation in Australia. The mine produces about 90% of the world’s pink gems.

Alrosa found the 27.85-carat rough stone at its alluvial mines in Russia’s Far East in 2017 and named it Nijinsky, after ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. The preparation and cutting process, which took a full year, was done at Alrosa’s cutting factory in Moscow.

The Spirit of the Rose was named for the ballet Le Spectre de la Rose, staged by the Ballets Russes company, which premiered in 1911 and in which Nijinsky was a star.

Source: bloomberg