Surat, a leading diamond manufacturing hub in India, is revving up again.
Colin Shah, Chairman, GJEPC, said, “Cut and polished diamonds are a major contributor to India’s gems and jewellery exports amounting to $35 billion. Although exports in the first quarter have been severely impacted by the pandemic, it is heartening to note that exports have picked up from the global seat of diamond manufacturing. As there are orders coming from the U.S., Hong Kong and parts of Europe for certain types of polished goods, the sector is on the path of recovery. The upcoming holiday season in the Western countries, should further boost demand for gems and jewellery.”
Sanjay Shah, Convener, Diamond Panel Committee, GJEPC, said: “We are optimistic about the third and fourth quarters, as orders have come in from the U.S., and we expect demand from China to pick up from September onwards. Things are looking better as we expect an additional 10-15% boost in orders.
“Due to the pandemic, consumers worldwide are valuing their relationships much more than ever, and diamond-studded jewellery is on everyone’s wish list, especially for gifting their loved ones to show that they care. Consumers now have disposable income, which was earlier spent on travelling and vacations; some of it is being diverted towards jewellery.”
Currently in Surat, of the nearly 7,000 diamond manufacturing units, about half or 5,000 small, medium and large units are operational. Following the stringent government guidelines, the factories have been working at 70% capacity.
Dinesh Navadiya, Regional Chairman, Gujarat Region, says Covid cases in Surat, especially in the diamond sector, have reduced considerably, with some factories reporting no new cases in the last couple of months.
“Awareness has spread rapidly, and people are maintaining social distancing norms,” says Navadiya.
He notes that exports to Hong Kong are reportedly strong, while demand for the U.S. market is slowly recovering.
“The GJEPC’s move to call for a voluntary ban on rough imports for a couple of months has helped clear the diamond pipeline, which, in turn, has generated some liquidity for manufacturers,” Navadiya states.
To help the MSMEs connect to global buyers, the GJEPC held a virtual B2B buyer-seller meet in the first week of September.
Pravin Shah, one of the directors of Ankit Gems Pvt. Ltd., a Surat-based diamond manufacturing company, notes that the safety protocols in their company were implemented since the lockdown was relaxed in the city.
“Our workers are our extended family, and we consider it our duty to look after them as our own,” says Shah, adding, “We have been operational since May, and are working at 80% capacity.”
Each worker is given a personal sanitisation kit, oximeters are used to check the oxygen levels of each worker twice a day, premises are sanitised each day before and after office hours, and workers have been attending office in rotation.
Instead of four workers sharing the diamond polishing wheel, only one employee uses it.
No cases of Covid have been reported from Ankit Gems so far, Shah says.