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Sparkle '11 bursts at the seams, but challenges ahead
 
SURAT, India, January 9, 2011 - Sparkle 2011, the fair staged in Surat, India's diamonds capital, is in the lucky position of enjoying a boom in demand for diamond jewellery in India and in the fast-growing regions around the world, notably in the Far East.

 
  
Now the challenge is how to manage this great opportunity aided by a rapidly expanding local economy in the state of Gujarat, one of the engines of India's remarkable growth, and surging retail demand for diamond jewels, sometimes at the expense of costly and heavy gold.

Sparkle looks set to double the number of exhibitors to around 250 at its next edition, expected in December 2011. Footfall, predominantly domestic, was strong at the latest event, which took place from January 6-9, 2011.

Sparkle organisers are also ploughing ahead with a strategy to attract overseas exhibitors and foreign retail buyers.

A new jewellery park outside Surat will boost prospects for Surat's emergence as a leading diamond jewellery manufacturing centre, potentially hosting foreign manufacturers seeking to take advantage of special economic benefits.

But big challenges lie ahead.

There are still no regular flights from Mumbai to Surat, hindering local development and deterring foreign visits.

Gujarati officials say they are lobbying hard to secure commercial flights between Mumbai and Surat, which could help to transform the region and accelerate growth further.

The five-hour road journey from Mumbai to Surat is long and bumpy and -- worst of all -- time-consuming.

Another issue -- also a challenge facing Mumbai -- is the need to develop infrastructure.

Surat's capacity to host a major international trade fair is already in place, with plenty of space available for exhibitors and awards and fashion shows, but public washrooms and the food court need to be upgraded to meet the highest international standards.
   
Progress for Sparkle seems to be inevitable, because the boom in demand for diamonds in India and the Far East looks set to go on for some time as new wealth is created.
   
Now it is up to the organisers not to let the opportunity for international expansion slip out of their hands.




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