In January, Rebecca Foerster, an industry veteran who has worked for Leo Schachter Diamonds and Rio Tinto, became president of Alrosa USA, the New York City–based arm of the Russian diamond miner. Here, she talks with JCK about her plans.
What do you see as your goals for the office?
We believe there is still a lot of opportunity to generate more awareness about Alrosa. The timing is perfect because the company is so well-positioned to talk about mine of origin, mine-to-market, everything is traceable, everything comes from Russia, and the stories are very relevant for what we see as the point of differentiation for mined diamonds.
There is also a real opportunity to become more aggressive with sales. Last year [the office] had two rough tenders. This year we’ll have four. They had one polished tender, we’ll have two.
What kind of marketing opportunities do you envision?
The objective is to create strategic partnerships. It could be anything from a retailer coming to us with a great idea to identifying certain diamonds and areas where we think there are interesting stories to tell. There are some major initiatives in place that I can’t talk about right now but will soon be announced.
Not everyone has a positive association with Russia these days. Do you think that will be an issue?
I don’t see it as an obstacle. I think when people look at diamonds, they look at them as a luxury good—they don’t think about politics at all. It’s the same as Russian vodka or caviar: It’s known for quality. Russian rough is some of the best rough that has ever been around in the industry. In talking to retailers, in talking to manufacturers that we want to create these programs with, I don’t see it.
(Diamonds: Alrosa website)