Latest News

G7 Members Confirm Bans on Russian Diamonds

December 19, 2023  |  Joshua Freedman
WFDB Alrosa rough diamond 1280 USED 191223

The European Union and other Group of Seven (G7) members will implement prohibitions on Russian diamonds from next month, as debates over potential tracing methods intensify.

The announcements follow a recent pledge by G7 leaders to punish the Kremlin for its ongoing war with Ukraine.

The EU will ban “nonindustrial diamonds mined, processed, or produced in Russia” in phases, with a direct ban going into force by January 1, the European Commission, its executive body, said Monday.

The ban applies to the “import, purchase or transfer of diamonds from Russia,” the Council of the European Union, the EU’s legislative body, clarified in a separate statement the same day. The direct prohibition from January 1 will include lab-grown diamonds and diamond jewelry, it noted.

The commission’s declaration is consistent with the G7’s December 6 statement calling for a ban on Russian diamonds polished in a third country from March 1.

By September 1, the indirect sanctions will also extend to lab-grown diamonds, jewelry, and watches containing diamonds, the commission said — a detail that was not in the G7 statement.

“This phasing-in of indirect import bans is justified by the need to deploy a traceability mechanism that enables effective enforcement measures and minimizes disruptions for the EU market,” the council said. “The ban of Russian diamonds is part of a G7 effort to develop an internationally coordinated diamond ban that aims at depriving Russia of this important revenue source.”

The EU, which includes Belgium, had not yet introduced any bans on Russian diamonds since the Ukraine war began in February 2022. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) argued for months that sanctions would only result in the stones ending up in other trading hubs, such as Dubai and Mumbai.

The diamond trade provides Russia with EUR 4 billion ($4.38 billion) in revenue per year, the commission estimated.

“Today, I would like to thank our partners in the European Union for approving the 12th package of sanctions,” said Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Importantly, for the first time, there is a ban on Russian diamonds.”

Meanwhile, Canada, the UK and Japan all announced bans following the G7 statement.

The power to introduce import restrictions lies with the individual countries rather than the G7 as a bloc. The US, another G7 member, which already has a ban on direct imports of Russian diamonds, has not announced any additional bans.

However, uncertainty remains about how countries will implement indirect bans, given the challenges of tracing diamonds through the supply chain.

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) criticized the G7 countries for considering “a single entry point within the G7 for the registration and inspection of rough diamonds” — an apparent reference to the Belgian proposal to direct all stones through Antwerp. This plan has received opposition for being too costly for the trade and for giving the Belgian city an unfair advantage.

“The proposed mechanism as we understand it will be detrimental to the worldwide diamond industry throughout the entire pipeline — from producing countries through to the consumer,” WFDB president Yoram Dvash said in a statement Monday.

A more efficient and effective mechanism would see rough-trading hubs such as Israel, Mumbai and Dubai — as well as producing countries in Africa and elsewhere — conduct the inspection and registration themselves, Dvash added.

In October, the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) decried Western countries for not consulting with people on the continent and claimed some of the plans would harm its members and artisanal miners. It also appeared to take aim at the plan for directing goods through Belgium.

Main image: A rough diamond at Russian miner Alrosa. (Alrosa)

Stay up to date by signing up for our diamond and jewelry industry news and analysis.


WFDB Alrosa rough diamond 1280 USED 191223 G7 Members Confirm Bans on Russian Diamonds

Share with others


Clear all search filters