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US Jewelry Industry Meets with Washington Officials over Sanctions

June 19, 2024  |  Joshua Freedman
Capitol building Washington DC image

Jewelers of America (JA) and key industry figures met with lawmakers in Washington, DC, last week to express their concerns about plans for sanctions on Russian diamonds

“JA has been working tirelessly behind the scenes, and this visit to Washington, DC, was a critical step to ensure we minimize unnecessary disruptions to the US diamond industry,” JA president and CEO David Bonaparte said in a statement Tuesday. “We are very concerned about the additional requirements that could take effect on September 1.” 

These would include adopting a European Union proposal forcing all 0.50-carat and larger diamonds destined for Group of Seven (G7) markets to pass through a single import channel in Belgium, Bonaparte noted. 

JA supports efforts to keep diamonds of Russian origin out of the supply chain, including the more stringent rules that went into effect on March 1, it said. These require importers to self-certify that diamonds of 1 carat or larger are not Russian, notwithstanding their having been manufactured in a third country. 

However, mandating physical verification and certification in Belgium for all rough diamonds “would cause maximum damage to the global diamond and jewelry supply chain, while having minimal effect on Russia’s diamond revenues,” JA argued in the statement. 

Joining Bonaparte on the visit were Jon Bridge, chairman and counsel emeritus at Ben Bridge Jeweler; Dave Meleski, president and CEO of Richline Group; Matthew Swibel, vice president for sustainability and social impact at Signet Jewelers; and Ronnie VanderLinden, immediate past president of the Diamond Manufacturers Importers Association of America (DMIA) and president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA). 

They met with “a dozen” Democratic and Republican lawmakers and their staff members in the House and the Senate that serve on committees overseeing trade issues. The meetings “highlighted various supply-chain disruptions that stem from proposed diamond-import requirements on September 1,” and the resulting costs to consumers, JA explained. 

They raised concerns about the financial and operational impact of the EU proposal and its potential effect on the supply chain. They also emphasized the need for a “grandfathering” clause applying to diamonds and diamond jewelry that entered the US before March 1, 2024. In addition, they highlighted the benefits of the certification systems already in place in producer countries and the importance of clarifying that the current restrictions on 1-carat and larger diamonds applied only to individual, loose diamonds and not total weight in finished jewelry. 

Image: The Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Shutterstock)

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