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.


Angolan diamond mine says Russia sanctions could hurt operations

Angolan diamond mines

Endiama, which holds the exclusive concession for diamond mining rights in Angola, has already flagged an almost one-third reduction in diamond output this year.

Angola’s state-run diamond miner Endiama could face a hit to its operations as Western sanctions on Russia could delay supplies of parts and machinery, according to a government brochure.

The government publication was made available at the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town on Monday.

Western nations have unleashed crippling economic sanctions against Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Endiama, which holds the exclusive concession for diamond mining rights in Angola, has already flagged an almost one-third reduction in diamond output to 10.05 million carats this year, from a forecast 13.8 million carats.

The company expects revenue of about $1.42bn from the sale of its diamonds this year.

“One of the great challenges for 2022 will certainly be to maintain the sustainability of the mines while the war between Russia and Ukraine lasts,” said the government brochure, “since the sanctions that the United States and Western countries have imposed on Russia may affect some national mining companies, delaying the supply of some machinery, parts and spares.”

Endiama has signed contracts with Rio Tinto to explore its Chiri mine in the Angolan province of Lunda Norte, while another project, Luaxe, was also expected to begin pilot production, it added, without providing a timeline.

Last month, diamond miner De Beers signed two mineral investment contracts with the Angolan government, the Anglo American subsidiary said ahead of a return to the country it left in 2012.

Source: Reuters

Russian royal gems, rare coloured diamonds on Geneva auction block

An orange-pink diamond weighing 25.62 carats

Russian royal jewels smuggled out of the country during the 1917 revolution, alongside rare coloured diamonds, are on offer at auction next week in Geneva, looking for deep-pocketed collectors emerging from the pandemic.

An orange-pink diamond weighing 25.62 carats, estimated at 3.6 million to 5.38 million Swiss francs ($3.9 million to $5.9 million), set in a ring, is the star lot at auction house Sotheby’s semi-annual jewellery sale in the Swiss city on Nov. 10.

“A beautiful crystal, it’s a fantastic colour with a little bit of orange but not too much, so it’s a very subtle colour,” Olivier Wagner, head of sale and jewellery expert at Sotheby’s Geneva, told Reuters in the showroom in a lakeside hotel.

“The market is currently very dynamic and after the pandemic people are very keen to buy jewellery today and to buy something tangible they can enjoy.”

For collectors of historic gems, a large oval sapphire and diamond brooch and matching earclips from the jewellery box of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the aunt of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, is back on the block.

“They belonged to the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia who was the queen of social life in St. Petersburg. She was the wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir, so the son of the tsar (Alexander II), and she had a fantastic collection of jewels,” Wagner said.

The royal set, entrusted to her friend the British diplomat Albert Henry Stopford, who took them to London for safekeeping along with other jewels, is estimated at 280,000-480,000 francs, the auction house said.

Pavlovna escaped from revolutionary Russia and died in France in 1920. Her brooch and earrings are being sold by a European princely family who bought them at auction in 2009, the auction house said.

Source: reuters