Sunday, July 21, 2024

US Jewelry Industry Meets with Washington Officials Over Sanctions

Last week, key figures from the US jewelry industry, led by Jewelers of America (JA), convened with lawmakers in Washington, DC, to voice concerns over proposed sanctions on Russian diamonds. The discussions centered on minimizing disruptions to the US diamond industry stemming from these sanctions.

“JA has been working tirelessly behind the scenes, and this visit to Washington, DC, was a critical step to ensure we minimize unnecessary disruptions to the US diamond industry,” stated JA president and CEO David Bonaparte on Tuesday. “We are very concerned about the additional requirements that could take effect on September 1.”

Among the proposed changes is a European Union directive requiring all 0.50-carat and larger diamonds destined for Group of Seven (G7) markets to pass through a single import channel in Belgium. Bonaparte highlighted the industry’s concern about this measure.

JA supports efforts to exclude Russian-origin diamonds from the supply chain, including the stringent rules effective since March 1, which mandate importers to self-certify that diamonds of 1 carat or larger are not Russian, regardless of their manufacture in a third country. However, JA argued that requiring physical verification and certification in Belgium for all rough diamonds would severely disrupt the global diamond and jewelry supply chain, while having minimal impact on Russia’s diamond revenues.

Joining Bonaparte in the visit were Jon Bridge, chairman and counsel emeritus at Ben Bridge Jeweler; Dave Meleski, president and CEO of Richline Group; Matthew Swibel, vice president for sustainability and social impact at Signet Jewelers; and Ronnie VanderLinden, immediate past president of the Diamond Manufacturers Importers Association of America (DMIA) and president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA).

The delegation met with approximately a dozen lawmakers and their staff members from both the House and Senate, focusing on committees overseeing trade issues. They emphasized the various supply-chain disruptions expected from the proposed diamond-import requirements and the resultant costs to consumers.

Key concerns included the financial and operational impacts of the EU proposal, the necessity of a “grandfathering” clause for diamonds and diamond jewelry entering the US before March 1, 2024, and the benefits of existing certification systems in producer countries. They also clarified that current restrictions on 1-carat and larger diamonds should apply solely to individual, loose diamonds, not the total weight in finished jewelry.

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