The new ‘blood diamonds’: the elaborate plan to halt Russia’s trade – by Chloe Cornish, Sam Fleming and Harry Dempsey (Financial Times – May 10, 2023)

G7 nations are working on an inspections regime to target the country’s gemstones, but risk destabilising the global industry

Chloe Cornish in Surat, Sam Fleming in Brussels, Harry Dempsey in London – If you’ve worn, touched or seen a diamond which was cut and polished in the past decade or so, the chances are it passed through Surat, India. India boasts more than 90 per cent of the world’s diamond manufacturing, and this historic trading city on the north-west coast is the industry’s capital.

Surat’s polishers, who sit in cramped offices hunched over abrasive wheels to transform rough rocks into dazzling gems, have won the city its reputation in part by tackling small gems hewn from Siberian mines. Russia’s tiny diamonds are only cost-effective to manufacture when workers are paid less than in traditional diamond centres like Antwerp, but are favoured by jewellers for ornamentation such as the sides of a glitzy engagement ring.

Ramesh Savaliya thinks about three-quarters of the diamonds he processes in his small polishing business are from Russia, the world’s largest diamond producer. That’s based on what the resellers Savaliya buys from tell him; the stones do not come with paperwork identifying their origin.

That may not be the case for much longer. The war in Ukraine, thousands of miles away, is set to transform Surat’s cutting and polishing industry and reshape the secretive global diamond trade as the west tries to cut off Russia’s diamond dollars.

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