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Every crisis creates new opportunities

01 february 2021

pravin_shah_xx.pngPravin Shah has been in the business of diamonds for four decades; his technical expertise and thorough knowledge of the whole diamond manufacturing process sets him apart.

As a director, Pravin Shah is in charge of all the operations at two manufacturing factories – one in Surat and the other in Namibia. He is known for his leadership abilities, ethical values and guiding principles.

He serves as a committee member in Gujarat Hira Bourse, a Vice-Chairman of Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO) Gujarat Zone, and also serves as a Trustee in various social and religious trusts.

Pravin Shah is a visionary, an avid reader and a passionate diamantaire.

Here, in an interview with Rough&Polished, Pravin Shah comes across as an astute businessman, passionate about expanding the company’s business … going forward.

Some excerpts:

For the benefit of our readers, please take us through your company Ankit Gems, from inception to the present. Please give details of your product, the volume of production, turnover etc. besides history.

Established in 1985, Ankit Gems is a fast-growing diamond processing company. Recognized by the Indian Government as an Export House, Ankit Gems imports rough diamonds, processes and exports polished diamonds to different regions globally. Today, our company employees total about 1500 people globally.

We have two manufacturing facility – one in Surat and the other in Namibia. Our Surat factory has been awarded the Platinum Award for the “Best Green factory building” in the country by IGBC (Indian Green Building Corporation). We deal in gem-quality diamonds weighing 0.50ct to 5cts majorly and up to 10cts overall. Our turnover is around US$300 million.

How widely are you connected across the globe in your business? Please give details on the number of sales offices, and in which part of the world. What is the demand scene from consuming markets like the US, China, HK, etc.?

Ankit Gems has a worldwide presence with offices in Antwerp, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, Namibia and the U.S.A. Demand for diamonds has opened up recently, especially in the last three months and the recovery from the pandemic has been great for the market. USA and China are the major driving force in the industry.

The US representing the industry’s largest end-consumer market for diamond jewelry at approximately 50%, continues to benefit from a stock market that is at all-time highs, which is supportive of the ever-important consumer sentiment. The US Department of Commerce said that retail sales (overall retail including jewelry) will rise month-over-month, and year-to-date, US retail sales are up 3.4% year-over-year.

Positive developments are occurring in other important markets of the global industry as well. Greater China’s largest jeweller opened many new stores during the fiscal year---the most store openings in a fiscal year. The expanding store footprint implies the company’s confidence in the growth of jewelry consumption in China for years to come.

Image credit: Ankit Gems

Can you give more information about your Namibia Project? Is it for diamond manufacturing or jewelry also? And why Namibia? What are the benefits for a new project there besides rough diamond availability? Please give more details.

We started operations in Windhoek, Namibia in the year 2009 and it is for the manufacturing of diamonds. Namibia is a very peaceful and secure country, and there is a stable rough availability for the goods we want. The government and the people are very helpful and supportive of the industry. Also, we see a great opportunity in the years to come.

From where do you source your rough diamonds to feed your factory? How is Ankit Gems faring in this scenario, when most of the factories are not in full production? What measures are you taking to keep your facilities running as usual?

We source rough diamonds from DTC Namibia, DTC Botswana and ALROSA as a sight-holder, and also from other major mines through our Antwerp office.

Ankit Gems factory is located at the outskirts of Surat. We have taken many precautions and safety measure to ensure our workers get a healthy and safe environment. Our factories have been able to work in full production, without any hindrance due to the strict measures followed by us.

Measures undertaken are:-

-Daily sanitization

-Temperature checks

- One-machine One-person strategy

-Cross seating of all the employees

-Mask Compulsory

-Social Distancing

Is Ankit Gems only into exports or do you cater to the domestic market as well …as it makes business sense to cater to any markets where there is demand? In any case, do you foresee growth in demand in the domestic market going forward?

Ankit Gems is majorly an export-oriented company. We also cater to domestic market needs. Our online portal has helped us reach the clientele in all parts of the world, including India.

Due to our global presence, we can reach to many customers and maintain a healthy relationship with them.

India is a vast and rapidly growing economy. We are very optimistic about its future and the demand it will bring to our industry. We have a strong presence in the local market too, and our sales team caters to the Indian market as well. We take part in various exhibitions in different parts of the country and try to go one step closer to the customer.

Do you think the Indian diamond industry is in a major crisis right now? In times of tight liquidity, do you think trading cautiously and diminishing credit will bring the industry back to its former self? Your opinion, please.

Every crisis creates new opportunities. We believe the recent tightening measures have helped us and other people in the industry in a good way. Yes, we do think the industry will be growing and will be back very soon. We believe in our people of the industry, that they are very capable and will come out from this crisis soon.

Is the ‘trust’ factor of yesteryear diluted in a way in the Indian G&J industry? Is that a price any close-knit industry faces as they grow bigger? Your thoughts?

Ups and lows are part of the business in any industry. Indian G&J industry has always bounced back from its lows throughout its history. We consider the trust factor is a temporary challenge and our industry is mature enough to cope up with it.

Finally, what is Ankit Gems’ agenda for the future? Will it continue consolidating its existing projects or does it have any expansion plans on the horizon?

Our core business is the manufacturing of diamonds and we plan to grow gradually in the same organic way.However, the growth and the development of our people is at the forefront of our vision. We have recently expanded our Mumbai Office to one of the finest.

Our Surat Factory is working towards becoming a carbon emission free certified Green Building, which will be first of its kind in the Jewellery Industry.

We have plans to expand our Hong Kong office and Namibia factory to double its current size by the end of the next year.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough&Polished