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Russian state-controlled miner Alrosa, the world's biggest producer of rough diamonds in carat terms, raised $11.8 million in its first New York diamond auction of the year, as it seeks to increase its activity in the United States.

Rebecca Foerster, president of Alrosa, North America, said sanctions against some Russian companies did not diminish the appeal of Russian high quality diamonds.

Alrosa resumed operations in New York last year after they lay dormant for two years because of what the company said were "organisational changes" and concerns related to the previous team.

It held two diamond auctions there in 2018, which between them raised $18.3 million from international buyers.

By comparison a single New York sale in March this year of large stones, all of more than 10.8 carats and some as large as 50 carats, raised $11.8 million.

"The United States is a target market for growth. It's by far the largest diamond market," Foerster said in an interview.

She said this year Alrosa was aiming for four sales of rough diamonds in the United States, including the March sale that has just taken place, as well as two auctions of polished stones.

Diamond analysts say supply is expected to contract, potentially boosting prices, as mature mines decline and new production lags

In an email, Alrosa said it was seeking to double U.S. activity annually "over the next few years".

"No politics"

While Alrosa has no intention of launching its own jewellery brand, Foerster said it was marketing diamonds based on guaranteeing their origin, in line with customer demand for sustainable gems.

"It's becoming more and more of a necessity," she said. "All our diamonds come from a collection of mines in Russia. We can...

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