By Michelle Graff
Diamonds from Russia apparently love Antwerp. According to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, 25 percent of its 2013 imports came from Russia and the Belgian diamond hub is home to the world’s largest concentration of long-term Alrosa client
Moscow--Leaders from Antwerp and Russia inked an agreement in Moscow Wednesday that deepens the partnership between the Antwerp World Diamond Centre and diamond miner Alrosa.

At a networking event held Wednesday night at the Belgian Embassy, an AWDC delegation and representatives from 35 Antwerp-based diamond companies met with a delegation from Gokhran, the Russian State Precious Metals and Gems Repository, top Alrosa management and other Russian diamond industry stakeholders.

There, AWDC President Stéphane Fischler and Andrei Yurin, head of Gokhran, signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, that commits both parties to share market information, knowledge and technology and to work more closely toward their common goal: strengthening the market for natural diamonds.

The MOU comes on the heels of a cooperation agreement the AWDC and Alrosa signed a few months ago that dictates both parties contribute to the development of a competitive rough and polished market in Russia while promoting sales of Alrosa’s rough diamonds in Antwerp.

According to the AWDC, 25 percent of Antwerp’s rough imports, a total of 22.8 million carats worth $2.8 billion, came from Russia in 2013. On average, more than 50 percent of Alrosa’s rough diamonds are traded in Antwerp, and the Belgian diamond hub is home to the largest concentration of long-term Alrosa clients, the AWDC said.

Industry leaders in both Russia and Antwerp have been forging new partnerships around the globe in recent years.

Alrosa, which has its eye on surpassing De Beers as the world’s No. 1 diamond producer in value terms over the next couple of years, has been extending its reach in the United States and recently inked a joint venture with Angolan mining company Endiama for exploration in the African nation.

RELATED CONTENT: Alrosa increasing presence in the United States 

Meanwhile, in Antwerp, the AWDC has been auctioning off rough diamonds from Zimbabwe following the European Union’s September 2013  lifting of sanctions that prohibited trade of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s  Marange region.

While AWDC President Fischler was in Moscow signing a new agreement with Alrosa, AWDC CEO Ari Epstein was attending a parliamentary hearing in in Harare, Zimbabwe where he delivered an address expressing the organization’s support for long-term growth in the African nation.

During the event, the AWDC presented government officials with an MOU draft covering long-term technical assistance, knowledge transfer and common value creation. 

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