Russia’s diamonds are not forever
May 19, 2023 - The European Union and the Group of Seven are pushing to curb Russia’s diamond trade by cutting it off as a source of funds, as Moscow continues its offensive in Ukraine.
Speaking at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced new sanctions targeting Russian exports, including diamonds imported by the U.K.
The Russian diamond industry -- the world’s largest diamond producer -- was worth almost US$4bn (€3.68bn) in exports in 2021.
“We believe in democracy, freedom, the rule of law - and it’s right that we stand up for those things,” Sunak told the BBC.
In April, Poland called for sanctions on Russian diamond imports, but Belgium -- home to the world’s biggest diamond trading hub in Antwerp -- rejected restrictions. Belgium imported Russian diamonds valued at $127.61 million (€118 million) in January 2023
In 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond mining company by volume. Alrosa sends most of its rough diamonds to India for cutting and polishing.
The president of Mumbai’s vast Bharat Diamond Bourse, Anoop Mehta, estimates India’s diamond trade employs one million people.
“They’re cheaper quality and smaller sizes -- the smaller and cheaper the stone, the more people you need to cut and polish it,” said Mehta.
G7 leaders have suggested a traceability scheme. Technology that can analyse a diamond’s geographical origins will likely launch by the end of the year or early 2024.