Russia’s Diamonds: 40 Years of Mettle

After more than 40 years of total secrecy, Russia put its diamond operations on public view in June. The occasion was an international diamond summit in Moscow (see August JCK, page 14), followed by a visit to Sakha, the Siberian province where the country's mines are located. Russia produces one-fourth of all diamonds mined in the world, an estimated $1.4 billion worth yearly. But its ascension to diamond superpower hasn't been easy. Mining operations in Russia have had to overcome some of the most hostile weather on earth and countless logistical problems in remote locations. In fact, a cyclical setback in the constant battle with nature has reduced output from 22 million carats yearly a decade ago to 12 million today. "But Russia is and will remain a diamond superpower," said Evgeny Bytchkov, who chairs the State Committee on Precious Gems, which oversees all of Russia's diamonds.

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