Diamonds / Industry

Antwerp Adding Staff to Diamond Office to Stem Delays


Antwerp is adding 30 people to its Diamond Office, to eliminate delays in processing that began when Russian diamond sanctions were ramped up on March 1, a senior Belgian official said in an online briefing Thursday.

The official admitted the initial days of the Russian ban had been bumpy, but said turnaround time has been brought down to the standard 24 hours.

So far, about 10% of shipments have been held up, because of issues regarding the required “documentary evidence.” The official confirmed that three shipments had been confiscated by authorities, leading to the arrest of four local traders.

While it’s not clear what individual G7 members will do in September—when the much-discussed G7 certification program is due to launch—the official said the European Union was committed to establishing an online ledger documenting diamond provenance, with Antwerp as the sole “rough hub.”

The EU created “a strong, solid legal framework that is very explicit about what is expected as of Sept. 1,” he said. “It is something that has been approved by 27 countries. When it comes to questions like [grandfathered goods] or [other] places where you can get goods certified, progressive change is possible. But as far as the European Union, the framework is pretty stable and straightforward.”

The certification pilot has seen “quite strong engagement by industry, with major European brands reaching out to us,” said the official.

The EU hopes to complete the final phase of operational testing by May, with the entire system ready to go by the summer.

“We may not be tracing every single stone [in September],” the official said. “We may be tracing based on parcels, on batches. But the commitment to get started on a solid baseline and then progressively continue on that basis is very strong.”

He said that while G7 certification will be free, the tracking system needed to support it will add a cost of about $30 a carat. “That is not a game changer,” the official maintained.

(Photo courtesy of Antwerp World Diamond Center)

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By: Rob Bates

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