In continuing fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading luxury conglomerates have shut their Russian stores, the head of Alrosa USA has stepped down from her positions in two industry groups, and the top bullion watchdog and U.S. Congress have turned their attention to Russian gold.
LVMH, Kering, Richemont, and Swatch Group have all reportedly shut their stores in Russia. That would seem to include LVMH-owned Bulgari, which has received some criticism after its CEO boasted about strong post-sanction sales.
The mass closures have reportedly turned some once-teeming Russian malls into virtual ghost towns.
In addition, Rebecca Foerster, the industry veteran who served as president of Alrosa USA, has stepped down from her leadership role in two industry groups.
Foerster has resigned as president and board member of Diamonds Do Good, effective immediately. She has also given up her role as a board member of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.
Diamonds Do Good immediate past president Anna Martin will take over Foerster’s role, the group said.
Last week, an Alrosa official stepped down from his leadership roles in the Responsible Jewellery Council, and Alrosa suspended its membership in the Natural Diamond Council.
While most of the attention so far has been on Russian diamonds, that could change. Some U.S. senators as well as the world’s leading bullion trade association are both proposing new curbs on Russian gold.
A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a new bill that aims to prevent U.S. companies from knowingly buying Russian gold, according to Axios.
The bill “would apply secondary sanctions to any American entities knowingly transacting with or transporting gold from Russia’s central bank holdings, or selling gold physically or electronically in Russia,” the news service said.
The new rule will likely be added to the upcoming omnibus spending bill, expected to be passed by Friday.
The events have also caused the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) to suspend a group of Russian gold and silver producers.
The move means that the refiners will no longer be able to sell on the London market, which is considered the world’s largest.
“These six refiners will no longer be accepted as Good Delivery by the London Bullion market until further notice,” the LBMA said.
The suspended entities are JSC Krastsvetmet, JSC Novosibirsk Refinery, JSC Uralelectromed, Moscow Special Alloys Processing Plant, Prioksky Plant of Non-Ferrous Metals, and Shyolkovsky Factory of Secondary Precious Metals.