The diamond sector in Antwerp is preparing to apply the newly agreed sanctions against Russian diamonds.
After months of deliberation, the new measures agreed between the G7 and EU countries will start working progressively from January 1.
The first to be hit will be rough diamonds, of which Russia is the largest exporter globally, with 30% of the total production by volume.
But tracking diamonds is not easy according to Koen Vandenbempt from the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Antwerp.
“This will be a blockchain system where the transformation of the diamond is fully recorded and that you can track basically what is going on with the diamonds,” he told Euronews.
Every diamond that will be sold in countries that impose the sanctions will have to travel first to Antwerp, in Belgium, to be certified.
Through this system, the Belgian city should not be hit so hard by the sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for its illegal, ongoing invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
“Antwerp has been always the most important trading hub for diamonds. We were losing that,” Vandenbempt said.
“With the current system in place, which I think is a really good system, the flows will come back to the European Union and have an impact.”
Having both the G7 and EU on board, which buy around 70% of the diamonds globally, was key to ensuring that the system would actually hit Russia and that diamonds will not be sold elsewhere.
In 2021, Russia exported around $4bn worth of diamonds most of them by a single company, Alrosa.