The Ultimate Guide to Exporting Rough Diamonds

Understanding the diamond trade, especially when exporting rough diamonds to the Antwerp market, necessitates thorough knowledge and meticulous attention to detail. At Ajediam, we recognize the challenges associated with diamond export and the need for clear guidance. This article serves as a comprehensive guide, addressing key areas from visa procedures, legal mandates, and Kimberley Certificates to identifying reliable partners both locally and in Antwerp. We also present our Diamond Export Checklist Generator, a tool crafted to streamline the export process. Whether you’re a seasoned diamond trader or new to the sector, this guide provides the essential insights for successful diamond exports.

Understanding the Fundamental Timeline of Diamond Exporting

Exporting diamonds is a meticulous process that demands precision at every step. Here’s a breakdown of the essentials:

  • Starting Point: An individual or entity in possession of rough diamonds must ensure they have the necessary Kimberley Certificate, which attests to the diamonds’ ethical sourcing. Additionally, proper documentation for the diamonds and licensing for rough diamond mining/trading activity are paramount.
  • The Exporting Party: The diamond owner either operates their own exporting company or collaborates with an established one. This company plays a pivotal role in facilitating the export process.
  • The Importing Party in Antwerp: The diamond owner must have a base, contact, or partner in Antwerp responsible for importing the diamonds. This can be an individual or a company specializing in diamond imports.
  • Local Evaluation: Before export, the diamonds undergo an assessment by the local KPC office. This evaluation determines the authenticity and value of the rough diamonds as well as verification of the origin of the diamond/
  • Ministry Approval: following the evaluation and approval of the KPC office, the ministry will be able to allow the export and stamp the documents. Only diamonds that meet the went through this process are allowed to be exported.
  • Transportation: Once approved for export, the diamonds are either transported by the exporter themself or handed over to a specialized transport company. This company may act as a neutral intermediary, ensuring the diamonds’ safe and secure transit to Antwerp.
  • Customs Clearance in Antwerp: Upon arrival in Antwerp, the diamonds are inspected by customs (douane). The declared value of the diamonds is verified, and discrepancies, if any, are addressed. It’s worth noting that the given value may not always align with customs’ assessment.
  • Goods Retrieval: The designated importer in Antwerp is responsible for personally retrieving the diamonds from customs.
  • Final Transaction: The diamonds are either acquired by the importer or sold to another party. It’s crucial that the proceeds from this transaction are securely transferred back to the exporting company in the country of origin.

Understanding how the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme works

Is the KPCS a governmental or private organization?

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is the cornerstone of ethical diamond trading, ensuring that each diamond sold on the global market is conflict-free. It holds a pivotal role akin to an international regulatory body. While technically not a government agency, its protocols are deeply integrated within the mining ministries of all participating countries, reinforcing its authority and the legitimacy of its certification.

The KPCS’s rigorous record-keeping system

To operate within a KPCS participating country, mines must hold an official license from the KPCS, signifying their commitment to transparency and ethical mining practices. Each stone extracted is meticulously recorded—nowadays, typically in a digital ledger that includes photographs and detailed descriptions, ensuring traceability from the ground to the market.

This rigorous record-keeping is subject to regular audits by KPCS officials, who may conduct weekly inspections to ensure that the inventory aligns with documented extractions. When a miner decides to sell their diamonds, the stones must be presented to the local Kimberley Process office for verification against the mine’s records. This step is crucial to maintain the integrity of the supply chain. Here, the diamonds undergo an initial assessment, where characteristics such as carat weight and size are documented.

The KPCS certificate

The KPCS acts as a passport for diamonds, chronicling their journey from one owner to the next, and serves as a certificate of ownership. Should these diamonds be destined for international markets, they must return to the KPCS for a final review. This is to confirm that the stones match the recorded inventory and to ensure that the transaction value is consistent with market rates—a safeguard against money laundering.

KPCS offices around the world communicate and collaborate to oversee this global network. Eligibility to export diamonds is restricted to miners, traders, or jewelers holding export licenses. The paperwork involved with the KPCS is extensive but straightforward. When dealing with sublicenses, the process can be more complex, as funds must be repatriated from the importer in Antwerp to the exporting company in the country of the issues the exporting licence. No in-between payments to third parties are allowed to ensure a closed loop in the financial trail.

How KPCS manages international export /import transits for rough diamonds

Once a diamond is approved, it is sealed in a tamper-evident container, and the exporter must declare their itinerary, detailing the stone’s journey. At the airport, the sealed package—accompanied by the Kimberley Process certificate, invoice, and all necessary license documentation—is subject to customs clearance. The destination country is alerted to the incoming shipment, which remains sealed throughout transit.

Upon arrival, the importer must declare the goods to customs, who then retain the diamonds for verification against all documentation and the declared itinerary. This process can take several hours, after which the importer themself is summoned to physically collect the stones from customs.

Navigating the Kimberley Process requires diligence and an unwavering commitment to ethical standards. For those in the industry, the process, while demanding, is a testament to the global effort to maintain the integrity of the diamond trade.

Every nation has its set of rules for exporting gemstones, including diamonds. Adhering to these regulations not only ensures legal compliance but also bolsters your reputation in the global arena:

Collaborate with your Country’s Ministry of Mining: 

In most countries, the designated ministry or its counterpart oversees the extraction and export of diamonds. The Ministry responsible for the mining sectors typically provides the guidelines for exporting diamonds. While the exact process may vary from one country to another, the general procedure for diamond export is as follows:

  • Licensing: Present a valid export license as per the respective country’s mineral and mining regulations.
  • Notification: Inform the designated mineral trading authority in advance for valuation and documentation preparation.
  • Classification: Present diamonds according to the specified classification guidelines provided by the local mineral authority.
  • Declaration: Accurately declare the value of the diamonds in the provided documentation.
  • Representation: Ensure diamonds are accompanied by either the exporter or a certified processing agent.
  • KPCS Membership: Only export diamonds to countries that are members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
  • Import Regulation: When importing diamonds, ensure they are accompanied by a valid KPCS certificate from the exporting country.
  • Valuation: Adhere to the local valuation process, which typically involves multiple evaluations to determine export duties.
  • Valuation Presence: Ensure the valuation is conducted in the presence of designated officials, which may include mining officers and customs officials.
  • Shipping Routes: For specific regions or unions, ensure you follow designated shipping routes or countries.
  • Travel Documentation: Provide necessary travel evidence, such as flight itineraries, when exporting to certain regions or countries.
  • Packaging: After valuation, package diamonds securely and as directed by local guidelines.
  • KPCS Certificate: Obtain a Kimberley Process certificate detailing the valuation, signed by the necessary authorities.
  • Documentation: Maintain records, including photographs or digital copies, of the sealed diamonds and associated certificates.
  • Customs Declaration: Ensure customs declarations are in order and can be cross-referenced with the KPCS certificate during checks.
  • Certificate Validity: Be aware that the KPCS certificate typically has a validity period, which may vary by country.
  • Document Distribution: Distribute copies of export documents as required by local security and monitoring agencies.
  • Export Route: Use designated export routes or points, such as specific airports or ports, as mandated by local regulations.

What type of visa will you need to enter in Antwerp as a diamond exporter?

To enter Belgium for the purpose of exporting diamonds on a business trip, you would typically require a Schengen Business Visa. This type of visa is designed for individuals who are planning to travel to Belgium and other Schengen countries for business purposes, including meetings, conferences, trade fairs, and other professional activities.

Here are some key points about the Schengen Business Visa:

  • Application Process: You need to apply for a visa at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country. The application process involves submitting a completed visa application form, passport-sized photographs, and various supporting documents.
  • Supporting Documents: These may include a letter from your employer detailing the purpose of your trip, an invitation letter from the Belgian company you are visiting (in this case, possibly a diamond trading company), proof of travel insurance, flight itinerary, and proof of accommodation.
  • Financial Proof: You must provide evidence of sufficient financial means to cover your stay in Belgium. This can be in the form of bank statements or a letter from your employer.
  • Visa Duration: The Schengen Business Visa is typically issued for the duration of your business trip, up to a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period.
  • Processing Time: The processing time can vary, but it’s advisable to apply well in advance of your planned trip, ideally at least 15 days before your intended travel date.
  • Visa Fee: There is a fee for the visa application, which varies depending on the applicant’s age and other factors.

Avoiding Corruption by Knowing Where It Can Happen

Navigating the Risks of Corruption

Corruption can cast a long shadow over any industry, and the diamond sector, despite its stringent regulations and severe penalties for misconduct, is of course not immune. The potential for corrupt practices exists at various levels, from government officials to private sector representatives.

In the journey of exporting rough diamonds, one may encounter obstacles that are, at times, the result of unethical behavior. A minister could unjustly halt an export, seeking bribes to facilitate the process. Similarly, KPCS officers might exert undue pressure on exporters by threatening to overvalue a diamond unless they receive under-the-table payments. Even law enforcement within Antwerp’s diamond sector has been implicated in overreach, including the extortion of traders and the manipulation of documentation.

While these incidents are not the norm, they represent a risk that must be acknowledged and mitigated against.

Why attempting fraud or cheating the process is a Grave Mistake

Corruption is a two-way street; while regulatory officials may solicit bribes, individuals are equally capable of offering them in an attempt to bend the rules to their advantage, often at their own peril.

Falsifying information or attempting to export diamonds without valid documentation is fraught with severe legal repercussions, especially in the diamond sector. Our industry operates under rigorous standards and faces intense scrutiny, making its regulations stricter than many other sectors. 

You might ask why. Legally, diamonds are regarded as a medium of exchange or a currency equivalent in the EU, which underscores the gravity of adhering to the established trade regulations. While regulatory bodies might levy fines for non-compliance in some industries, engaging in illicit diamond trading can lead to criminal charges and potential incarceration. 

Finding Reliable Trade Partners in the Diamond Industry

Partnering with a Trustworthy Exporting Company

In the diamond industry, trust is the bedrock of any partnership. The prevalence of scams and deceitful practices means that even seasoned professionals must exercise caution. To build trust, one must engage in due diligence: get to know potential partners, investigate their reputation, and verify any accreditations, does someone you trust vouch for them? 

Assessing the character of the people you’re dealing with is also crucial. Are they being transparent about their process and willing to provide collateral or guarantees where appropriate? Understanding the full scope of the transaction process, being cognizant of potential pitfalls, and starting with smaller transactions can help build a foundation of trust. This approach allows for careful observation and assessment, making it easier to discern whether any issues that arise are accidental or deliberate.

Securing a Dependable Importing Company

In the diamond industry, where personal endorsements are as valuable as the diamonds themselves, forging a successful partnership with an importing company hinges on your standing within the community. Traders are typically cautious, preferring to engage with new partners who come recommended by someone they trust implicitly. This trust is often built upon three fundamental pillars: reliability, punctuality in payments, and transparency regarding the quality of goods.

A reputation for keeping your word becomes your most valuable asset. It’s not merely about making promises but about the consistent fulfillment of those commitments. Timely financial transactions are equally critical; they reflect your respect for the partnership and the business at large. Lastly, being forthright about the quality of your diamonds establishes a foundation of trust that can withstand the rigors of this demanding trade.

When these criteria are met, a trader’s name becomes synonymous with integrity, paving the way for fruitful collaborations. It is this reputation that precedes you, opening doors to in-person meetings where mutual respect and professional rapport can flourish. In the end, these are the benchmarks against which your business practices are measured and the cornerstones upon which lasting partnerships are built.