There has been a sleeping giant out there for the last several decades that has been quietly and deftly becoming the world’s leading diamond mining company. Introducing Alrosa USA Inc., a recently opened affiliate of Moscow-based Alrosa Group of Companies that has been mining diamonds since the first kimberlite pipe was discovered in Russia in 1954. The company is currently publicly traded with investors stretching from the United Kingdom to countries in South America.
Over the years, Alrosa has become the world’s largest mining company by volume. In 2019, total sales of rough and polished diamonds was calculated at more than $3.34 billion. The company accounts for 26% of the global diamond market—which means that one in four diamonds in the world comes from Russia.
Russian diamonds, mined by Alrosa mainly in Yakutia (Siberia), are considered some of the most beautiful in the world, both for their color and their high proportion of regularly shaped crystals. These two attributes make the rough diamonds best suited for creating ideal-cut stones. The company is highly aware of jewelers’ and consumers’ increased concern for where and how these diamonds are mined. Along with diamond deposits, Alrosa has its own cutting and polishing arm, therefore controlling the whole story of a diamond. It allows for greater transparency and information about the stones’ provenance from mine to cutter’s hands.
“It’s all about the Russian way of making a diamond,” says Rebecca Foerster, president of Alrosa USA Inc. The affiliate opened its doors in New York last year to target American high-end retailers, broaden customer service, and spread awareness about the product. Alrosa USA held four diamond auctions last year.
Alrosa is all-in when it comes to sustainability, too, giving back to the community and making sure there are environmental protection policies in place. It also goes above and beyond when it comes to taking care of its employees and their children. The company will pay part of an employee’s visit to a health resort and has financed improving the drinking water in Yakutia, for example. Every year the company gives more than $150 million to social and charity initiatives.
“We don’t just say, we do,” says Foerster. “We really do the right thing. We give to 500 charities, including education, health care, orphanages, wildlife—you name it.”
The United States is by far the largest market for diamond jewelry, and Alrosa USA believes it’s well positioned to connect with the American consumer, ranging from transparency to storytelling about the company’s 40,000 employees. “The product is a manifestation of those stories,” says Foerster. “The value is due to all of the lives that it touches along the way.”