History of Yakutia Diamonds

Yakutia is extremely rich in natural resources, with huge reserves of coal, antimony, nickel, manganese, lead, cobalt, tungsten, molybdenum, bauxite, sulfur and asbestos, as well as having vast forests, and oil and natural gas reserves that some feel rival those of Saudi Arabia. The diamond fields of Yakutia, however, are the region's most important resource at the present time, and are what make Yakutia a relatively bright light in the troubled Russian economy.

Yakutia produces 99% of Russia's diamonds, which is their main source of foreign currency income. The Yakutian diamond industry started from scratch after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the republic signed the declaration of independence that allowed it to get control of its resources.

Many people in Yakutia think of diamond manufacturing as an industry that has always been in the republic and they can’t imagine that it didn’t even exist just two decades ago. The Yakutian diamond industry started from scratch after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the republic signed the declaration of independence that allowed it to get control of its resources. At that time, everywhere across Russia, the economy was in disarray, as former government-owned companies and farms were faced with the sudden loss of central government financing.

Today, almost 20 years after the first diamond was cut in Yakutia, local manufacturers are trying to tap into the momentum created by the rise in polished prices. “Manufacturing is growing and exceeded the precrisis levels in 2010,” says Alexei Golubenko, the republic’s minister of industry. “The companies became more profitable, some got technological upgrades and many improved their sales network.”

According to the ministry’s data, there are 12 plants currently in operation in the region, employing around 400 people. Yakutia produced $190 million worth of polished diamonds in 2010, most of which was exported. Local companies, government authorities and foreign investors believe manufacturing is here to stay in Yakutia, due to the proximity of the rough and the skills of local polishers.

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