Coronavirus complicates Indian diamond exports to China
By David Brough
MUMBAI, February 14, 2020 – Coronavirus is hurting Indian gem and jewellery trade to the huge Chinese market, but authorities are urging the Indian state and banks to extend credit lines to exporters and are receiving positive feedback, industry leaders said.
Indian gem and jewellery exports could take a hit of some 5-7 percent in value terms over a year due to the impact of Coronavirus, Colin Shah, who will be appointed the next Chairman of the state-backed Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), told a news conference.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Feb. 13-16 edition of the IIJS Signature trade show, Shah said the GJEPC had appealed to the Commerce Ministry and banks to treat exporters “in a lenient fashion” and to ensure that credit lines are extended for Indian gem and jewellery exporters selling to the Chinese market.
China accounts for roughly a third of Indian diamond exports. India is by far the world’s top supplier of manufactured diamonds.
“People are not going to their offices in China. It has not been possible for some (Indian) exporters to receive their payments (from China),” Shah said, referring to the impact of Coronavirus.
“Feedback from the government and the banks to our appeal has been very positive,” he added.
The Indian trade feels great sympathy for those impacted by Coronavirus in China and will deal sensitively with their colleagues in the Chinese trade, jewellers said.
“Coronavirus is a tragedy. We have been messaging Chinese trade associations to offer our support – whatever we can do,” Shah said.
The GJEPC was urging manufacturers to produce with extreme caution for export to the Chinese market due to the ongoing concerns over Coronavirus.
Turnout was high on the first day of the Signature edition of the India International Jewellery Show (IIJS), which highlighted the latest Indian jewellery designs.
Indian silver jewellery and laboratory-grown diamond exports were the “green shoots” of the sector, showing strong growth, Shah said.
The GJEPC launched a book at IIJS Signature about Indian jewellery manufacturing expertise, entitled “Unleashing Jewellery Manufacturing Excellence.”
UK NAJ envoys visit IIJS Signature
NAJ (National Association of Jewellers) envoys Lindsey Straughton and Helen Dimmick from the UK, visited IIJS Signature to develop trade links between the UK and India.
They held meetings with Indian jewellery trade leaders and manufacturers at the Signature show.
IIJS is held twice a year, gathering Indian manufacturers and designers taking orders from Indian and overseas retailers.
NAJ ambassador Straughton said she was exploring possibilities for UK designers to collaborate with Indian manufacturers, opportunities for UK buyers to source gemstones from India, as well as for UK manufacturers to sell platinum jewellery to India despite import tariffs.
Dimmick, an industry consultant who was formerly interim business leader of the Company of Master Jewellers (CMJ) buying group, said the visit was a perfect opportunity to develop links between the UK and Indian industries.
“The timing of this visit, shortly after Brexit, could not have been better,” she said.
British Asian retailers attending IIJS Signature, including Jayant Raniga, CEO of east London retailer PureJewels, and London-based wholesaler Mehul Lodhiya, spoke of plans to hold the first meeting of the British Asian Jewellers Alliance (BAJA), a networking forum, soon.
India is a leading supplier of polished diamonds, coloured gemstones, and manufactured and handcrafted jewellery.
The two NAJ envoys attended the Artisan Awards on February 12, a showcase for Indian jewellery design talent, whose special guests included UK designer Stephen Webster and Italian jewellery analyst and forecaster Paola De Luca, head of creative intelligence agency The Futurist.
The Futurist will power for the first time the high-profile “Design Inspirations” seminar coinciding with IIJS Signature on February 16.
“We will be bringing together some very inspired and visionary figures from across the luxury arena to give thought-provoking and disruptive insight into the future of design, fashion, jewellery and luxury,” De Luca said.
Speakers will include Ash Allibhai, director of UK-based ASBO fashion magazine; London-based Thomas Lazzarini, private client personal shopper at digital retailer Farfetch; and Fleur Damman and Noelle Viguurs Van Gelder, co-owners of Netherlands-based Van Gelder Jewellery.