Russia’s Secret Gem Sales Are Dividing the Diamond World (Bloomberg News – September 17, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — The secretive sale of Russian diamonds, worth hundreds of millions of dollars every month, is fracturing the global trade that stretches from cutting factories in Mumbai to luxury stores on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Many in the industry refuse to deal in Russian gems following the invasion of Ukraine and after mining giant Alrosa PJSC was hit with US sanctions. But there’s a handful of Indian and Belgian buyers who are snapping up large volumes at lucrative terms, getting to pick and choose the diamonds they need while others stay away.

The deals are happening quietly, even for the famously secretive diamond world. And while they’re not breaching sanctions, there are other risks to consider — heavyweights like Tiffany & Co. and Signet Jewelers Ltd. don’t want Russian diamonds that were mined since the war began, and suppliers say they are worried about losing crucial contracts by dealing in Alrosa gems.

The sales present a problem for any attempts at a boycott: once stones enter the supply chain they can become near-impossible to track. Diamonds are sold in parcels of similar sizes and qualities — there are about 15,000 different categories — and can be retraded and remixed multiple times before ending up in an engagement ring or pendant.

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