After a two-year break, Alrosa resumed its U.S. operations in 2018 and hired industry veteran Rebecca Foerster in January to lead the division.
In her first interview since joining the company, Foerster told Yahoo Finance UK she doesn’t believe the negative headlines surrounding the U.S.-Russia relationship will have any bearing on Alrosa’s opportunities in the world’s largest diamond market.
“My belief is that the two things are extremely separate. When we’re talking about a diamond and the beauty of a diamond, it’s not political,” said Foerster, president of Alrosa North America.
“With Russia, if we talk about caviar or vodka or beautifully Russian-cut diamonds, I don’t think that the political aspect inserts itself into the consumer’s perception of those goods. I don’t see that to be a barrier to entry at all,” she said.
Alrosa produces close to 40 million carats of diamonds annually from its Russian mines or about 27% of the global total. That’s 18% more than its closest competitor, De Beers, which is owned by mining giant Anglo American.
The U.S. has imposed targeted sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses over the past few years to punish Russia for its aggression against Ukraine and involvement in the Syrian conflict, among other reasons.
The move slammed some Russian metal and energy companies, along with banks. But the diamond industry has avoided attention.
“Fortunately, there has been no discussion of putting restrictions on the diamond business,” Alrosa said in a written statement to Yahoo Finance UK, but noted the threat of sanctions “is quite unpredictable.”
“We have developed several scenarios in advance, in case of the introduction of any restrictions on the company’s activities,” it said.