Moscow: Despite U.S. sanctions, Russian diamond sales rose after the Ukraine war began, according to Kimberley Process (KP) statistics for the first half of 2022.
The numbers—which have not yet been made public—reveal that following the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine, Russia sharply increased diamond exports to the European Union (which includes Antwerp, Belgium) as well as to two allies, Armenia and Belarus. Exports to other countries dropped—and in some cases, like the United States, they ceased entirely.
In the second quarter of 2022 (April through June), Russian rough diamond exports were $1.11 billion, compared with $1.01 billion in the first quarter of 2022, and $1.09 billion in the second quarter of 2021. Those totals include both gem and industrial diamonds.
No data was available for the third and fourth quarters of 2022, though preliminary third-quarter numbers also show an increase, says a source.
Russia’s gains were all in value, rather than volume. The country exported significantly fewer carats in the second quarter of 2022 (9.4 million) than it did in the second quarter of 2021 (11.9 million). Yet the average per-carat price of those exports rose, to $119 in 2022’s second quarter from $91 during the same period of 2021, the stats say.
Diamond analyst Edahn Golan believes this could reflect more selective sales: “Instead of selling goods by the parcel, they are just selling the goods people need.”
He notes that Russia’s increases were far smaller than other producers’: De Beers’ sales in the first half of 2022 rose 24% from the prior year, and its average per-carat price climbed 58%.
Still, the statistics show that “the United States didn’t end the demand for Russian goods,” says Golan. “The money’s just being rerouted.”
That is demonstrated in the KP data. The largest destination for Russian exports in the second quarter of 2022 was the European Union, which received $669.5 million in goods, up from $439 million in the first quarter. The vast majority of them were likely shipped to Antwerp.