Policies & Issues

Lab-Grown Diamonds, Finished Jewelry to Fall Under G7 Ban, EU Says

Policies & IssuesDec 20, 2023

Lab-Grown Diamonds, Finished Jewelry to Fall Under G7 Ban, EU Says

The EU also provided details on the carat weight threshold, and how it will track rough diamonds.

Stock image of multiple European Union flags
The European Union will ban the import of diamonds “mined, processed, or produced” in Russia beginning Jan. 1, part of a fresh round of sanctions designed to impede Russia’s ability to continue to fund its war in Ukraine.
Brussels—The European Union has announced its 12th round of sanctions on Russia and, in doing so, shed some light on the forthcoming G7 restrictions on the country’s diamonds.

Details on the new sanctions were published Monday and, for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two years ago, Russian diamonds were among the products listed as banned from entering the EU. 

The sanctions are part of the “internationally coordinated” G7 diamond ban, and much of the language the EU used in its official statement echoes the statement the Group of Seven nations released earlier this month

Beginning Jan. 1, the EU and all G7 nations will ban the import of non-industrial, natural diamonds “mined, processed, or produced” in Russia.

This initial ban, set to take effect in less than two weeks, will not have great impact in the United States, as Russian diamonds have been off-limits here since March 2022.

On March 1, the ban will extend to natural Russian diamonds cut and polished in other countries with a weight of 1 carat and above.

Then on Sept. 1, according to the EU, the ban will expand again, this time to lab-grown diamonds made in Russia, finished jewelry set with Russian diamonds, and watches containing diamonds from Russia weight a half carat and above, none of which were mentioned in the G7’s statement.

Sara Yood, deputy general counsel at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, said in an interview Tuesday that the inclusion of lab-grown diamonds is “ultimately a good thing.” 

“To me, it’s about consistency. Including lab-grown in this is a net positive because if we care about transparency and traceability, we should care about it across the board.”

Yood also noted that while finished jewelry and lab-grown diamonds have been part of the discussion on Russian diamonds, the EU’s statement is the first time she’s heard diamond-set watches mentioned.

While most watches are set with diamonds that would fall below the half-carat threshold, she sees their inclusion as a “potential loophole they are trying to close before it gets exploited.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

The EU’s release on the new sanctions also used the same language as the G7 statement in calling for the establishment of a “robust traceability-based verification and certification mechanism for rough diamonds,” but it expounded upon how the mechanism will work in a Q&A on the sanctions package.  
According to the EU, as a “major importer” of rough diamonds, it will create a mechanism for the stones within the G7 that is blockchain-based and will require “mandatory registration” of rough diamonds using “digital twins” of the real diamond in its rough state and issuing a certificate of its origin.

The identifying information and certificate will be entered in a blockchain-based ledger so the diamond can be traced through the cutting and polishing process and presented at time of importation as a diamond from “X” country. 

A spokesperson for the European Commission told National Jeweler the blockchain ledger is intended to be used by “all G7, EU jurisdictions and economic operators.” 

A blockchain-based solution was the mechanism the EU proposed to the G7. 

However, one of the sticking points of the so-called EU Proposal—having all diamonds bound for G7 nations pass through Antwerp—was not mentioned by the EU in its explanation of the verification and certification system.

The EU said the pilot phase of the system will be operational by March 1, and fully online by the Sept. 1 deadline that extends the ban on Russian diamonds to finished jewelry, lab-grown diamonds, and diamond-set watches.

Between March 1 and Aug. 31, companies can use the system of their choosing to prove non-Russian origin but beginning Sept. 1, the use of the blockchain-based system will be “mandatory.” 

“We look forward to strong cooperation from industry to ensure that our approach and intentions are understood and implemented,” the EU said. 

“The goal of this effort remains centered on reducing revenue that Russia earns from diamonds, which fuels Moscow’s war machine against Ukraine.”

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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