Policies & Issues

US Bans Import of Russian Diamonds

Policies & IssuesMar 14, 2022

US Bans Import of Russian Diamonds

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee has shared updated guidance on the executive order, which was issued Friday.

The U.S. government has banned the import of non-industrial diamonds from Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 14 to include additional guidance from the Jewelers Vigilance Committee about the nature of the diamonds that have been banned by the U.S.

Washington, D.C.—President Joe Biden issued an executive order Friday, March 11, banning the import of non-industrial Russian diamonds into the United States.

It’s the latest from the U.S. government in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

On Feb. 25, the U.S. put both diamond miner Alrosa and its CEO on a list of sanctions, though it didn’t directly prohibit buying the company’s diamonds. This new order now means no direct diamond buying from Alrosa or any other Russian company is allowed.

Alrosa mined 32.4 million carats in 2021, making it the largest producer by volume and accounting for nearly 30 percent of global supply, with sales topping $4 billion. The Russian government holds a 33 percent stake in the company. 

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee said Friday any U.S. business purchasing diamonds directly from Alrosa, Alrosa USA, or any other Russian company should immediately put an end to the transactions. 

JVC noted early Monday the ban on importation of diamonds from Russia includes “unworked or simply sawn, cleaved, or bruted” diamonds, meaning rough diamonds, as well as those cut and polished in Russia. 

U.S. Customs regulations and interpretation of the FAQs issued by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control after the ban was enacted indicate rough diamonds from Russia that are cut and polished in another country are “substantially transformed” by that process, JVC said, and thereby become a product of that country.

This means rough diamonds imported from Russia into a country that hasn’t placed sanctions or a ban on the diamonds are then legal to import to the U.S. as they fall under a different tariff code.

In additional guidance issued Monday, JVC said it is possible countries that serve as traditional cutting centers might implement a ban on the import of Russian diamonds.

The U.S. government also could decide to further limit imports of products originating in Russia that are “substantially transformed” somewhere else or add additional tariff codes to the current ban.

JVC said it recommends the trade proceed with “extreme caution” when it comes to diamond imports as the risk of additional limits in the future is high.

The organization also urges U.S. businesses to make sure their anti-money laundering programs are active and to check OFAC’s sanction lists to make sure they’re not sourcing products from places or companies they shouldn’t be.  

Friday’s executive order also prohibits “the exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States” of luxury goods to Russia. 

JVC said this means U.S. businesses previously selling jewelry to or in Russia should stop doing so immediately.

Other Russian goods banned for import by the order are fish, seafood, and alcoholic beverages.

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