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Gauging the mood in Mumbai

Disruptions in the diamond and gold markets have been keenly felt in India – yet the recent India International Jewellery Show was firmly focused on solutions, COLEBY NICHOLSON reports.

By the time the India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) closed on 12 August in Mumbai, the organisers reported that visitor attendance had been better than expected, given it was held during what they called a“depressed market”.

More than 32,000 local buyers and 1,100 international visitors attended the 36th edition of IIJS, which would have been pleasing to the organisers given that the Indian show regularly sees 35,000–40,000 buyers attend.

This year, 1,300 exhibitors displayed their wares in the expanded Bombay Exhibition Centre. The booths comprised 10 clearly defined sections: Couture, Mass Produced, Plain Gold, Loose Stones, International Pavilions, Synthetics & Simulants, Laboratories & Education, Allied, Hall of Innovation and Special Clusters (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector).

The Indian jewellery industry is facing many challenges including the high gold price – largely a result of the US-China trade war – and an oversupply of diamond. The latter has caused many diamond suppliers to reduce prices as they grapple with cashflow to accommodate local banks, which have been pressuring manufacturers over lending facilities.

Some of the issues are self-inflicted, given the recent high-profile fraud and corruption charges on Indian diamond and jewellery businesses.

According to one diamond manufacturer at IIJS, a decline in Chinese demand has also affected India’s diamond exports in the past year, particularly for 0.20- to 0.60-carat goods, which are popular in that market.

The past year had seen an 18 per cent decline in cut and polished diamond exports to $US1.5 billion; while gold jewellery exports fell by more than by 5 per cent to $US963 million.

"Our vision is to increase gem and jewellery exports to $US75 billion and create an additional 2 million jobs by 2025"
Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman GJEPC

These pressures are among the reasons the Indian jewellery sector experienced a 10 per cent year-over-year decline in overall exports in July 2019 to $US2.22 billion, according to India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

Faced with these local problems, the industry, led by the GJEPC, is not standing still and has predicted that global exports will reach $US70 billion per year, up from $US41 billion per year in 2018.

The industry is trying to boost diamond demand among Indian consumers to complement the strong gold jewellery tradition in the country. Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman GJEPC, recently told a news conference that the Indian jewellery industry needs to adapt to the changing world economic and trading conditions.

“India is well placed in this changing world order. With the US putting a 10 per cent duty on Chinese exports of gems and jewellery, India has a potential opportunity to grab market share – a $US6 billion opportunity,” he explained, adding, “On one side, India is engaged in trade negotiations with the Eastern world and we are on the way to sign bilateral and multilateral trade deals with [the] Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which controls one-third of the world trade, and includes China, the Indo-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Indo-Korea EPA.”

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership consists of ten ASEAN member countries as well as its free trade agreement partners: India, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan.

“Our vision is to increase gem and jewellery exports to $US75 billion and create an additional 2 million jobs by 2025,” Agrawal said.

He explained that the sector is facing challenges globally and sustaining demand for the product is most important; meanwhile, the GJEPC will focus on promoting small jewellery exporters.

“We are happy that, post our meetings and representation, De Beers is investing around $US175 million globally and Alrosa is also adding funds through the Diamond Producers’ Association and their individual offices too,” Agrawal added.

Additionally, Indian authorities are taking steps to differentiate synthetic and natural diamonds – a key concern of diamond producers and retailers.

“The Indian government has introduced a separate 8-Digit HS [Harmonized System] Code for lab-grown/synthetic diamonds, making India one of the early adopters of distinct HS Codes for both rough and polished synthetic diamonds, which is a consumer-friendly and trade-friendly initiative that enhances the ease of doing business,” Agrawal explained.




The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the HS, is an internationally standardised system of names and numbers to classify traded products. It came into effect in 1988 and has since been developed and maintained by the World Customs Organisation.

Paul Rowley, executive vice president diamond trading and distribution, De Beers Group, also addressed the media at the IIJS. He said, “India is the pulse and the heartbeat of the global gem and jewellery trade. Within a few years, two-thirds of the Millennial population of the world will be in India. IIJS Premiere 2019 will jumpstart the shift to a new order in the global gem and jewellery trade.”

De Beers was also a sponsor of the GJEPC’s corporate social responsibility initiative Jewellers For Hope. At a charity dinner during the IIJS, Rowley said, “Diamonds are the ultimate symbol of love and these miracles of nature have given hope to so many people across world. The diamond industry in India has been doing tremendous work in education, health and uplifting the marginalised sections of the society. De Beers has always been committed to the welfare of its stakeholders and society.

“We are happy to partner with GJEPC for the charity event that gives hope to the underprivileged and empowers children, women and people in a great manner.”

Another initiative promoted by GJEPC at the show is the creation of a Gem Bourse at Jaipur. It’s envisioned that the Gem Bourse will house more than 2,000 coloured gemstone manufacturers and traders along with the offices of customs, banks, and other service providers at one place.

With the Indian gem and jewellery industry facing significant difficulties as well as opportunities, and so many artisanal producers relying on it for their livelihood, it’s critical that the GJEPC takes action. Through the IIJS show and its other initiatives, the organisation is taking a pro-active approach to ensuring the sector’s future remains secure.

Coleby Nicholson attended the India International Jewellery Show as a guest of the GJEPC as an accredited media representative.



Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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