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The Great Diamond Glut: Miners Stuck With Gems Worth Billions

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the diamond world.

Russian Diamonds At Alrosa PJSC's Yakutsk Diamond Trading Enterprise

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

In one of the world’s biggest diamond vaults, hidden inside a nondescript office compound on the dusty outskirts of Botswana’s capital, the precious stones just keep piling up.

Owner De Beers, which mines and auctions most of its gems in the southern African nation, has barely sold any rough diamonds since February. Neither has Russian rival Alrosa PJSC. Now, as the coronavirus restrictions that froze the global industry for months begin to lift, the unsold diamonds present a dilemma: how to reduce billions of dollars’ worth of stocks without undermining the nascent recovery.