SURAT, India, January 9, 2011 - Surat, India's diamond capital, has the potential to become a major international diamond trading hub and diamond jewellery manufacturing centre, said Rohit Mehta, a key organiser of the Sparkle 2011 trade show.
Mehta, Vice President of the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Jewellery Outlook that Surat already processes eight out of every 10 diamonds in the world.
Now Surat is well-positioned to have an even greater impact by establishing itself as a diamond trading hub and as a diamond jewellery manufacturing centre.
"Apart from a trading hub, we expect Surat also to be a manufacturing hub for jewellery," Mehta said.
A jewellery park comprising one million square metres of land has been developed about 20 minutes' drive (9 km) from Surat, which is expected to have a special economic status for jewellery manufacturing and to lure international as well as domestic manufacturers, Mehta said.
"We expect that within the next six months, people will start constructing their factories here," he said.
"In the next one to 1-1/2 years, serious business will start happening in this jewellery park."
Mehta said he expected Sparkle, the diamond and diamond jewellery trade fair, to almost double the number of exhibitors to around 250 at its next edition, expected to take place in December 2011.
Sparkle is also pursuing a strategy to beef up an international participation, by attracting more exhibitors from overseas and bringing in international retail buyers.
One of the immediate challenges will be to establish regular flights between Mumbai and Surat, which is currently a five-hour road journey.
Mehta said the Indian domestic market for diamonds manufactured in India was booming, as many young people increasingly favoured diamonds over traditional gold jewellery, and due to the strong economic outlook in India.
Sparkle '11 takes place in Surat from January 6-9, 2011.