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Which city is the center of the world s diamond trade?

The global diamond market, according to the international rating agency Moody’s, fell by 2019% in 20 to $12 billion compared to $15 billion in 2018.

Diamond mining

2023: Plan of Western countries to introduce a ban on the purchase of diamonds from Russia

After the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, dealers in Antwerp (Belgium) were asked to boycott Russian stones. By November 2023, Western countries want to make the boycott official by introducing an official ban on Russian stones. A G7 announcement has been expected for weeks, but disagreements over details are delaying the process – Reuters.

2022: Russia for the first time occupied 35% of the world market or 41,9 million carats

At the end of 2022, Russia for the first time occupied 35% of the global diamond production market. Before this, the country occupied from 22% to 33% of the market in this area for many years. During the year, the world produced 119,96 million carats, of which 41,9 million were produced in Russia.

2021: Pandora abandons natural diamonds

On May 4, 2021, Pandora announced that the company was moving away from natural diamonds entirely. Instead, it is planned to use only those products that were grown in laboratory conditions. Read more here.

2014: Russia No. 1 in terms of value of diamonds produced

At the end of 2014, Russia surpassed Botswana in the total value of diamonds produced and took first place in the world, according to statistics from the Kimberley Association of Diamond Producing and Importing Countries. At the same time, Botswana still leads in terms of average price per carat. Russia, which traditionally was inferior to Botswana in terms of the price of mined diamonds, although it was ahead in volume, in 2014 took a leading position in both categories. The volume of Treasury data is growing by 22-25% annually. How the ecosystem of services of a data-centric department is developing The estimated value of Russian diamonds produced in 2014 increased by 20% to $3,73 billion, the average price per carat increased by 19% to $97,47. These data were reported back in February 2015 by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation [1]. In total, 2014 million carats of diamonds were produced in Russia in 38,303 (an increase of 1% compared to 2013). Of these, ALROSA, which accounts for about 25% of global and up to 90% of Russian production, produced 36,2 million carats of diamonds, Interfax reports. In addition to ALROSA, diamonds are mined in the Russian Federation by Grib Diamonds (100% subsidiary of NK LUKoil), which is developing the pipe named after. Grib in the Arkhangelsk region. The assessment of the value of Russian diamonds used by the Ministry of Finance is closer to the insurance value, which is significantly lower than real market prices (however, the figures allow us to draw conclusions about the dynamics of prices on the market and the quality of rough diamonds). The assessment methodology for each member country of the association may differ, since there is no uniform price list. The estimate of diamonds produced in Botswana in 2014 is $3,65 billion, which is at the level of 2013, Rapaport reported. The average price is $147,84 per carat, which is 5% lower in annual terms, which is explained by the fact that, while the estimate remained unchanged, diamond production increased by 6% to 23,187 million carats. The main diamond producer in Botswana is Debswana, which is owned on a parity basis by De Beers and the government of this country. The third place in the world in terms of the value of diamonds in 2014 was occupied by Canada, the precious stones mined on its territory are valued at $2 billion (an increase of 5% in annual terms). Production volume increased by 13% to 12,011 million carats. The average price, on the contrary, decreased by 7% to $166,78/carat. Angola produced diamonds worth $2014 billion in 1,32 (an increase of 13%). Production volume increased by 2% to 8,791 million carats. South Africa closes the top five, with 7,43 million carats of diamonds mined there and valued at $1,22 billion (an increase of 3%). Other major producers are Zimbabwe (4,771 million carats, value $238,6 million) and Namibia (1,917 million carats, value $1,16 billion). The most expensive diamonds are produced in Lesotho. The average price of diamonds from this African country increased by 2014% in 69, amounting to $990,18 per carat. Namibia is in second place ($602,57 per carat), but its raw materials fell in price by 25% in 2014. Global diamond production fell by 4% in 2014 to 124,778 million carats, in monetary terms it increased by 4% to $14,5 billion. The average price per carat increased by 8%, amounting to $116,17 per carat. The total export of diamonds by the member countries of the association increased by 6%, amounting to $58,12 billion. Total imports also increased – by 5% to $56,63 billion. The largest importer was India, the main center of diamond production. Imports to India increased by 8% in monetary terms, amounting to $17,21 billion, with a fall of 4% in carats (to 153,609 million carats). The main exporter is the EU (including Belgium), which exported 116,017 million carats, valued at $15,71 billion (a drop of 10%).

2011: Russia No. 1 in terms of diamond production

  • Russia – 35,14 million carats,
  • Botswana – 22,9 million,
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo – 19,249 million
  • Canada – 10,795 million carats,
  • Zimbabwe – 8,502 million carats and
  • Angola – 8,328 million carats.

In value terms, the leaders in the extraction of precious stones are:

  • Botswana – $3,902 billion (the cost of one carat mined in this country is $170),
  • Russia – $2,675 billion ($76),
  • Canada – $2,551 billion ($236),
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo ($9).

The most expensive diamonds are mined in Lesotho – $1,6 thousand per carat [2].

Diamond Exchanges

The majority of diamonds (about 65%) are mined in Africa, in particular in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Namibia. Also, these precious stones are found in significant quantities in Russia, Australia, and Canada. After extraction, diamonds are sorted, processed and sold. Most stones are sold through a network of diamond exchanges, the number of which was 2014 as of March 29.

Antwerp

As of March 2014, Antwerp is considered the largest center of diamond trade, where most of the world’s transactions take place. An ignorant passerby who wants to buy jewelry is unlikely to pay attention to the four buildings along Hoveniersstraat. Except that there is a special crowd in this place: mainly Jews, Russians, Indians, and Chinese. In general, about eight thousand people are employed in the diamond trade here, occupying 1,5 thousand offices and making transactions worth $140 million every day.

In the diamond market, where the leading role has been played by representatives of the Jewish nation for several centuries, a handshake and the already mentioned wish “Mazal Ubraha” are enough to conclude a deal. The minimum documentation hints at the closedness of the market. Indeed, it is almost impossible to get into this business worth more than $50 billion a year from the street.

Even if you are going to a meeting with a trader you know, which is supposed to take place in the building of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring diamond exchange, you will be searched no worse than at the G20 summit. At the entrance you need to provide not only your passport – in addition to this, they will take your right index fingerprint. The data may seem suspicious to security, and the police arrive quickly in such cases.

The precautions are not at all excessive. Over the past decades, criminals have managed to steal diamonds worth more than $160 million from Antwerp traders. There are also tragic cases in the history of the precious stones trade. In October 1981, a car filled with explosives exploded near the synagogue on Hovenierstraat. Three people died as a result of the terrorist attack. According to investigators, the terrorists targeted representatives of the Jewish community involved in the diamond trade.

Panama

In mid-March 2014, the first diamond exchange in South America was launched in Panama. Despite the region’s remoteness from Antwerp, the traditional center of the gem trade, the site will operate under the same rules: transactions will be sealed with the traditional Jewish wish “Mazal Ubraha,” which means “good luck and blessings.” The exchange is expected to facilitate trade in a region considered the most untapped diamond market in the world.

According to the initiators of the opening of the exchange in Panama, it will allow the South American market to grow from the current eight billion to ten billion dollars by 2017. The lack of a trading platform forced local dealers to travel to the USA and Europe to purchase goods on their own, which inevitably affected the final cost for the consumer [3].

Latin America is home to almost 12 thousand jewelry stores, 750 wholesalers and 320 mining companies. Diamonds on the Panama Exchange will come from major trading centers such as New York, Antwerp, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Hong Kong and Mumbai.

Blood Diamonds (Kimberly Process Certification)

When discussing precious stones, one cannot help but recall the “blood diamonds” that are mined in areas where hostilities are taking place. Funds received from the sale of such diamonds are usually used to finance wars. “Bloody” was the nickname for the stones that were mined during civil wars in Sierra Leone, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Congo, and Zimbabwe. Field commanders were ready to sell diamonds virtually on the street, and much cheaper than official companies. Many dealers were attracted by the low price. They turned a blind eye to the origin of the stones, thus contributing to the spread of wars in Africa.

The attention of the whole world to this problem was attracted only in the late 90s. In the early 2000s, a resolution was adopted in Antwerp. Its goal was to counter the sale of diamonds from war zones. As a result, an international certification system for imported and exported diamonds was created. The sale of stones that have not passed certification is prohibited by law in many countries. The scheme is called Kimberley Process Certification (named after the city in South Africa). Independent organizations doubt its effectiveness, since corruption is rampant in many African countries and the necessary documents are easy to obtain through bribes.

The birth and ejection of diamonds from the depths of the Earth

Scientists have discovered that a unique type of magma known as kimberlite can quickly traverse the Earth’s interior, carrying diamonds. It is also known that kimberlite is the main host matrix for diamonds.

Diamonds originate at a depth of about 150 kilometers below the Earth’s surface and rise rapidly during kimberlite eruptions, the speed of which can range from 18 to 133 km/h.

Kimberlite magma, rich in carbon dioxide and water gases, rises like soda popping out of a bottle that has been shaken vigorously. During this process, kimberlite brings diamonds into areas where they can be mined.

The authors of a study published in 2023 noted that kimberlites most often explode during periods when tectonic plates are strongly rearranged, for example, this happened during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea – it included modern continents approximately 335 – 175 million years ago.

Currently, the Earth is in a phase of fragmentation, but in about 100 – 200 million years the land will again unite into a supercontinent.

Notes

  1. ↑Russia took 1st place in terms of the value of mined diamonds
  2. ↑Russia retained its leadership in diamond mining
  3. ↑Mazal ubrakha!

European officials indicate that Russian diamond exports could be one of the sectors of the economy that will be subject to sanctions if unrest in Ukraine continues. Western officials blamed Russia for fomenting the violence and said any interference in Sunday’s presidential election could trigger such sweeping measures. The threat has put Antwerp’s diamond district, which houses the offices of traders, bankers and jewelers and retailers, on edge. Belgian officials have pleaded with other European countries to leave the diamond sector alone if sanctions are extended.

Alrosa, which is controlled by the Russian government, is one of the largest diamond miners in the world: it accounts for a quarter of all rough diamonds supplied to Antwerp and supplies more than half of its production there. So, last year the company sold about $2,5 billion worth of diamonds here. 10 times a year, the leaders of a select group of Antwerp diamond traders go to Moscow to buy Alrosa products. The loss of such a supplier would have an impact on an industry that creates tens of thousands of jobs in Belgium.

“The people in Antwerp need Alrosa more than Alrosa needs Antwerp,” said Dilip Mehta, chief executive officer of Rosy Blue (one of the world’s largest diamond trading companies).

Officials urged the European Commission not to extend sanctions to the diamond industry, arguing that Belgium would suffer. Meanwhile, traders say emergency measures are being discussed in case Russian diamonds are not sold in Antwerp and trade is carried out in rubles rather than dollars if US sanctions are similar to European ones.

Antwerp diamond officials worry that if Alrosa is forced to send its diamonds to other trading hubs such as Dubai, Tel Aviv or Mumbai, it could deal a serious blow to Antwerp. “The restrictions on the diamond industry are truly irreversible,” said Ari Epstein, executive director of the Antwerp World Diamond Center, the industry’s main trade group. The Russians “are our trusted partners, and we are of course very concerned when we hear these signals,” he added.

The Alrosa representative did not comment on possible sanctions. But she added that the market could respond by starting sales through companies located in countries not affected by the sanctions. But in Antwerp they believe that then the volume of supplies of Russian stones to their city will be significantly lower.

US sanctions may bring additional problems, since all diamond transactions are carried out in dollars and therefore must be approved by a US bank. Alrosa is considering changing the currency of its operations from dollars to rubles to avoid this problem, says a client familiar with its plans.

In March, as tensions over Ukraine grew, industry leaders traveled to Moscow to sign a cooperation agreement at the Belgian embassy with Gokhran, the Russian government depository for precious stones. This agreement, as well as the one signed with Alrosa in December, means that Russia and Antwerp will exchange market information. “There is no one to replace Alrosa,” Mehta said. “It will be very difficult for us.”

Translated by Yulia Gribtsova

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