Policies & Issues

UK Sanctions Russian Diamond Miner Alrosa

Policies & IssuesMar 25, 2022

UK Sanctions Russian Diamond Miner Alrosa

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced 65 new sanctions Thursday.

The United Kingdom has now sanctioned Alrosa, preventing its citizens and companies from doing business with the Russian diamond miner. Pictured here is a selection of Alrosa rough diamonds. (Image courtesy Alrosa)
London—The U.K. has joined the United States in sanctioning Alrosa as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.

On Thursday, U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced 65 new sanctions against Russian entities and individuals, targeting strategic industries, banks, and business elites the U.K. views as aiding Russia’s invasion.

Alrosa mined 32.4 million carats of in 2021, accounting for nearly 30 percent of global supply, with sales topping $4 billion. The Russian government holds a 33 percent stake in the company.

In addition to Alrosa, the U.K.’s sanctions included six banks and individuals like billionaire oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler; Herman Gref, CEO of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank; and Polina Kovaleva, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s stepdaughter.

The Foreign Secretary said the U.K. has now sanctioned more than 1,000 individuals and businesses since the invasion began.

“All those sanctioned today will have their assets in the U.K. frozen, which means no U.K. citizen or company can do business with them, and individuals subject to travel bans are also prohibited from traveling to or from the U.K.,” Truss said in a statement.

U.S. sanctions aimed at the Russian diamond industry started with Alrosa and its CEO, Sergey Ivanov Jr., on Feb. 25.

Those sanctions didn’t freeze Alrosa’s assets or completely bar U.S. companies from doing business with Alrosa, but they did make it complicated.

The U.S. tightened the noose on March 11, banning the import of rough diamonds from Russia as well as finished diamonds cut and polished in the country.  

 Related stories will be right here … 

Diamonds cut and polished elsewhere can still be imported into the United States, but the Jewelers Vigilance Committee said when the ban was announced that the trade should proceed with “extreme caution” when it comes to goods from Russia.

It also noted it is likely the U.S. government will ramp up sanctions in the future so that even diamonds cut and polished elsewhere are barred from import into the U.S.

The European Union, so far, has only prohibited the export of luxury goods valued at more than €300 (about $330) to Russia, including diamonds and jewelry, but has not put restrictions in place regarding the import of Russian diamonds.

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre did not send comment in response to an email from National Jeweler inquiring about its stance on Russian goods and how it is advising traders on the matter.

Media reports indicate the city’s diamond trade is concerned about the impact EU sanctions could have on business. According to The Brussels Times, more than €1 billion of Russian diamonds passed through Antwerp in 2020. 

AWDC spokesperson Tom Neys is quoted as saying to the Gazet van Antwerpen: “Sanctions can have a significant impact on the diamond business. It is a blow that should hurt Russia, but there is a chance that we do more damage to ourselves. The Russians can easily trade their diamonds with non-EU countries.”

Israel and India haven’t imposed any sanctions on Russia, meaning its diamonds can still be imported there. 

Neither India’s GJEPC nor the Israel Diamond Institute responded to an email inquiry from National Jeweler asking about their current stance on Russian diamonds and trading. 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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