Signet Hits Diamond Trade With Refusal to Buy Russian Gems – by Thomas Biesheuvel and Jeannette Neumann (Bloomberg/Financial Post – February 17, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — Signet Jewelers Ltd., the owner of Kay Jewelers and Zales, sent shockwaves through the global diamond trade on Wednesday, telling suppliers it would no longer buy stones mined in Russia, the world’s biggest source of gems.

The move by the largest diamond retailer in the industry’s most important market will create difficulties through the entire global supply chain. In diamond hubs from the Belgian port-city of Antwerp to Mumbai and Dubai, diamonds from different countries are routinely mixed together at almost every stage of cutting, polishing and trading.

Signet’s decision is the latest example of companies going beyond the sanctions imposed by governments as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raises concerns about a consumer backlash. Russia vies with Botswana as the world’s biggest diamond producer, supplying almost a third of all stones by volume.

The U.S. is easily the industry’s most important market, accounting for about half of all sales. Other big brands are considering similar moves, according to people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.

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