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Jaipur, Rajasthan, India - Amber fort in Jaipur
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India - Amber fort in Jaipur

Writing the future: Indian ingenuity

The recent IIJS show in Mumbai proceeded ahead of the coronavirus – however, the outbreak has now impacted India’s newest trade show, set to take place in the Pink City of Jaipur.


QUICK NUMBERS
 

15k

Visitors attended, from 325 cities

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700 

Exhibitors were present at the show

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4k

Jewellery businesses will be based at new Jaipur Bourse

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The recent India International Jewellery Show Signature (IIJS) trade show and India Gem & Jewellery Machinery Expo in Mumbai fell directly in the middle of two worldwide issues: the US-China trade war and the outbreak of the coronavirus, known as covid-19.

Unlike other jewellery trade shows which had already been postponed, such as Hong Kong’s International Jewellery Show, Signature – the smaller of Mumbai’s two annual jewellery events went ahead in late February, mainly because its focus is largely on the local market.

Its bigger ’brother’, IIJS Premiere, has a much larger international visitation and takes place in August. At the time of publication, it was still scheduled to proceed as planned.

However, India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) – the organiser of both IIJS events – has been forced to postpone another important trade gathering: the new International Gem & Jewellery Show in Jaipur, which was slated for 1–3 April.

When the GJEPC decided to proceed with Signature, covid-19 was largely seen as a ‘China issue’. However, the impacts of the outbreak were already beginning to be felt in India; local diamond suppliers experienced problems dealing with mainland Chinese manufacturers as well as Hong Kong companies, both of which had effectively closed their offices.

Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman of GJEPC
Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman of GJEPC
"IIJS Signature is now seen an integral part of Indian jewellers’ business cycle. Participants at each stage of the supply chain are growing and consolidating their business"
Pramod Kumar Agrawal, GJEPC

As a result, the diamond trade with China had effectively stalled well before the enormous impact of the virus outside of China became apparent.

The outbreak affected Indian sales as well as producing numerous administrative issues – staff were simply not present in Chinese offices to pay invoices for earlier deliveries.

While Chinese business began to falter, some Indian jewllery manufacturers saw an increase in exports to the US as a result of the US-China trade war.

“We have great exports to America. Even Chinese people are coming to India to set up factories to export to the US, because of the 6 per cent difference in duty due to the trade wars. So, Americans have very keen on buying from India,” Abihishek Sand, director Savio Jewellery, told Jeweller at the Signature show.

Savio Jewellery is a based in Jaipur and Sand believes there are a number of reasons for US buyers’ greater focus on Indian suppliers: saving on import duty, less disruptions due to coronavirus when compared with China, and improvements in manufacturing quality.

“The earlier manufacturing quality and craftsmanship in India was said to be weak but now Indian machinery is fantastic. You can't find a difference between Indian jewellery and Hong Kong-made jewellery. These machines have been imported and we are now focusing on quality finishing,” Sand said.

2015 Guinness Record Breaker ‘Peacock Ring’ 3,827 set diamonds Savio Jewellery2019 Guinness Record Breaker ‘Lotus Temple in Delhi’ 7,777 set diamonds Lakshikaa Jewels

 

He added: “Every Indian manufacturer is using CAD and less so hand-made. The accuracy level was missing [with hand-made] and everyone wants quality finishing. Buyers are not concerned about the price – they are more concerned about the finished craftsmanship, so in order to export they are now focusing more on quality with CAD, better machinery and technology." 

More than 15,000 visitors from 325 cities attended the four-day event to see what the 700 exhibitors had on display across the 45,000 square-metre event space.

Abishek Sand, Savio Jewellery
Abishek Sand, Savio Jewellery
"The earlier manufacturing quality and craftsmanship in India was said to be weak but now Indian machinery is fantastic. You can't find a difference between Indian jewellery and Hong Kong-made jewellery"
Abihishek Sand, Savio Jewellery

Addressing the inaugural session, GJEPC chairman Pramod Kumar Agrawal said, “IIJS Signature is now seen an integral part of Indian jewellers’ business cycle. Participants at each stage of the supply chain – from raw material suppliers to manufacturers, designers, wholesalers and retailers – are growing and consolidating their business."

GJEPC is an organisation established in 1966 by the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry with the aim to promote the gem and jewellery industry and its products. It regularly lobbies the government for improvements in trade and exports represents almost 7,000 exporters.

“We have been pursuing our government constantly with a few concerns which require immediate attention, like reduction in import duty from 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent on precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum; reduction of import duty on cut and polished diamonds and gemstones from 7.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent; and the amendment in taxation laws enabling sale of rough diamonds in Mumbai,” Agrawal said.

He believes these issues are critical in creating a “level playing field” for Indian businesses in the international jewellery trade.

Evolving India’s trade shows
Agrawal announced the April Jaipur gem show at IIJS Signature, however the GJPEC recently advised the industry it will now take place in July due to coronavirus concerns.

Elaborating on the reasons for the change, the GJEPC said, “There are serious concerns globally pertaining to the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by coronavirus adversely affecting everyone’s travel plans.”

It added that “considering the concerns and sensitivities of the countries impacted, the health and safety of exhibitors and visitors, after much deliberation with buyers and other stake holders” there was “no option but to reschedule the IGJS show to the new dates of 18–20 July 2020”.

In a message sent to all participants, GJEPC noted that the exclusive export-oriented show was targeted towards international visitors and it had received a “fabulous response from both exhibitors as well as buyers” with 600 buyer companies from 56 countries having pre-registered.

'Pink City' Jaipur, will be home to the new Gem Bourse that is currently under development.
'Pink City' Jaipur, will be home to the new Gem Bourse that is currently under development.

Jaipur is the historic ‘Pink City’ and capital of Rajasthan. While Thailand and Sri Lanka are known for ruby and sapphire cutting, treatment, and trading – and Surat, India, is the centre for diamond cutting and diamond jewellery manufacturing – Jaipur has a reputation as a centre for cutting, trading, and creating jewellery with a wide variety of coloured gemstones, particularly emeralds.

Its gemstone cutting and manufacturing businesses employ thousands of artisans with modern production facilities and techniques.

The importance of this market is best illustrated by the announcement late last year of the plan to establish a Gem Bourse in Jaipur. Said to be the first of its kind in the world, and set up exclusively for gemstones, it will house all trading activities in one secure environment, catering to the needs of local and international buyers.

The Bourse is envisioned to include 2,000 offices of gemstone manufacturers and traders, brokers’ chambers, a trading hall, customs clearance centre, exhibition hall and display shops.

Other industry services such as banks, insurance company offices, clearing and forwarding agent offices, testing laboratories and an export facilitation centre are expected to locate within the Bourse area.

While the postponement of the Jaipur show could be viewed as a blow, it may work to the GJPEC’s advantage, allowing more time to promote it to international exhibitors.

In addition, the success of the recent Signature show has added momentum to the Indian industry.

After the event Agrawal, said, “Despite business and environment headwinds, India’s gem and jewellery exhibitors participated wholeheartedly with energy and enthusiasm. We witnessed an influx of international buyers who are looking for alternatives considering the emerging international trade equations and China’s current situation.”

The gem-and-jewellery industry is a vital sector of India’s economy, accounting for 7 per cent of gross domestic product. Exports of gems and jewellery exceed $US40 billion a year, with an official target to achieve a lofty $US75 billion by 2025.

The Signature show also hosted a number of concurrent events and seminars including the Business Knowledge Forum in association with EconomicTimes.com. Speakers covered the importance of modern-day information technology and tools such as robotics, artificial intelligence and digital marketing.

"While the postponement of the Jaipur show could be viewed as a blow, it may work to the GJPEC’s advantage... [And] the success of the recent Signature show has added momentum to the Indian industry"

The Craft Pavilion promoted three traditional Indian jewellery crafts: temple, bidri and filigree. The aim is to preserve the knowledge of these crafts, as the skills are largely passed down through the generations by word of mouth or through practice.

Meanwhile, the Jewellery Start-Up Zone allowed exhibitors to interact with B2B buyers from across India.

A brighter future
The GJEPC is an extremely active organisation and while its latest initiatives – the new Jaipur Show and Gem Bourse – are a demonstration of India’s recognition of the importance of the gem and jewellery industry, it has another large project underway.

Last year it announced a new India Jewellery Park, a 21-acre integrated industrial park in Mumbai comprising manufacturing units, commercial areas, and residences for industrial workers and commercial support services. It will be substantially different to the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) or any other export processing zones.

It is expected that, when complete, more than 4,000 jewellery businesses and services companies will be located there.

The Indian jewellery sector is an engine for employment and continues to develop both in terms of technology and ambition. Despite the challenges that 2020 has brought to the international trade, the Signature show – and the GJEPC’s upcoming initiatives – reveal the true potential waiting to be tapped in the coming years.

*Coleby Nicholson attended IIJS Signature courtesy of GJEPC. Upcoming events include International Gem & Jewellery Show in Jaipur 18–20 July and IIJS Premiere 6–10 August.











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