MUMBAI: The Indian diamond trade is a worried lot with US sanctions on Russia threatening to have collateral impact on the world’s largest cutter and polisher of diamonds. To be sure, the fallout hasn’t yet been felt by Indian diamantaires.
But the fact that Russia supplies around 35-40% of the world’s rough diamonds and the US consumes 50% of the world’s polished diamonds is causing “consternation” in trade circles about how the US would treat polished stones produced by India from Russian roughs, said Anoop Mehta, president of Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB), India’s diamond trading hub. Mehta said the trade was awaiting clarity.
Jobs would be hit if US sanctions polished diamond imports from India that have been made from Russian roughs. “India cuts and polishes 14 out of 15 of the world’s roughs,” said Vipul Shah, vice chairman of the commerce ministry-sponsored Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (Gjepc). “We are hopeful that the US would view India as the country of origin as the stones are cut and polished here.”
Between them, Russia’s Alrosa and Anglo American-owned DeBeers constitute over 65% of the world’s rough supply. Alrosa produced 32.4 mn carats of diamonds in 2021, up from 30 mn in 2020. DeBeers produced 32.27 mn carats in 2021, up from 25.1 mn carats in 2020.
India polishes diamonds sourced from both these companies and exports them across the world. The diamonds are cut and polished in Surat and traded out of BDB. On average, the country imports roughs worth $16 billion and exports $21 billion polished each year. A source said employment could suffer if the US sanctioned imports of Russian origin stones indirectly. “If they insist on segregating polished stones using Russian roughs, it would become a big problem,” the source said.