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21 Dec, 2023 05:55

West’s Russian diamond sanctions unworkable – industry leader

The average customs agent will not be able to distinguish between gems of different origin, the CEO of De Beers says
West’s Russian diamond sanctions unworkable – industry leader

It is almost impossible for customs agents to distinguish Russian diamonds from any others, the CEO of De Beers has said. He was commenting on a planned Western ban on Russian precious stones, set to include a much-touted gem-tracking system.   

In an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday, Al Cook pointed out that the exact system for tracking stones has not been made clear.   

“With the best will in the world, the average customs agent will not be able to look at one diamond and another diamond and go, ‘That’s the Russian one’,” said the De Beers boss.  

On Monday, the European Council announced the bloc had approved a ban on the direct or indirect import, purchase, or transfer of diamonds from Russia, which will come into effect on January 1. The embargo, which applies to non-industrial natural and synthetic diamonds, as well as diamond jewelry, was featured in the 12th package of EU economic sanctions against Moscow.  

The diamond ban will be implemented in coordination with the G7, which announced a similar measure earlier this month.  

As part of the restrictions, the G7 could introduce a diamond-tracking system similar to the SWIFT international messaging system between banks. The mechanism would subsequently prevent diamonds that originated in Russia from entering global markets.  

According to media reports, the tracking system would include physical checks of packages containing stones, and compulsory traceability data for diamond producers and traders.

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