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Sanctions prove diamonds are not necessarily forever

World

Sanctions prove diamonds are not necessarily forever

Diamond prices are spiking and even De Beers can’t fill the void caused by the embargo on Russian suppliers

Thomas Biesheuvel

Prices are surging in some corners of the rough-diamond market, as sanctions on one of the world’s two giant miners ripple through the supply chain. In the past, the industry could turn to behemoth De Beers to crank out extra gems when supply ran tight — but not this time.

The price of a small rough diamond, the type that would end up clustered around the solitaire stone in a ring, has jumped about 20% since the start of March. The reason: diamond cutters, polishers and traders are struggling to source stones after the US levied sanctions on De Beers’s Russian rival, AlrosaC, which accounts for about a third of global production. 

For most of the modern history of diamonds, this is the sort of situation in which De Beers could have tapped its vast stockpiles or simply fired up latent mining capacity. Little more than 20 years ago, its safes in London held stocks of diamonds worth perhaps as much as R80bn...

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