Diamonds are forever

Updated: Jan 24 2002, 05:30am hrs
Post 9-11, Indian diamond exporters had voiced their doubts about hitting it big with Christmas sales in the US, their biggest market and the busiest season as far as diamonds are concerned. The ongoing global downturn further laid to rest any optimism about notching up high sales elsewhere in the world. However, recent data indicates that the gem and jewellery sector has bucked the trend. The export of diamonds and studded jewellery has actually looked up last November and December. Whatever may be the reason for this pick up in precious jewellery exports (it’s possible that this increased demand is a reflection of US consumers’ desire to opt for a short-term but expensive balm to soothe rattled nerves!), it’s clear that for some, diamonds are forever.

Practically the whole of last year was bad news for diamond exports. During calendar 2001, gem and jewellery exports witnessed a 17 per cent slide over the previous year. Actual realisation stood at $7.2 billion in 2001 against $8.4 billion a year ago. The new year, however, has brought in cheer for the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council. For, in the first fortnight of 2002, diamond exports touched $304 million as against $242 million recorded in January 2001. A revival in the international diamond market It may well be so. To be sure, the Indian economy would be hoping for the best — given that this country is the largest exporter of cut and polished diamonds in the world and the sector tops the list of foreign exchange earners. That said, the upsurge in recent months should not give way to complacency. Nor should exporters rest on their laurels merely because India commands a 55 per cent share of the global diamond market in terms of value, or 80 per cent in terms of caratage. The industry must continuously explore possibilities of expanding the market, introduce new technologies and seek more value addition to retain its top slot. It is as well for the diamontaires to fully exploit the studded jewellery market well before the demand for ‘cheap goods’ peters out.