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04 october 2021
zulu_ghevriya_xx.pngZulu Ghevriya, the CEO and Co-Founder of Smiling Rocks, Founder of Vedantti Jewellery and Managing Director of Prism Group has been in the diamond and jewellery industry for over 20 years.

Zulu started his business, Prism Group, as a natural diamond company. Today, Prism is globally recognised as a diamond and jewellery design house. He pioneered the colour-treated diamond business in Asia, which grew into a global venture, early on in his career. With experience in diamond manufacturing and trading in India, as well as his export expertise in Hong Kong, New York and Europe, Zulu is a recognised authority in the industry. In 2018, Zulu won JNA’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Smiling Rocks is a lab-grown diamond and jewellery brand based in New York, a dream project for the co-founders Manish Jiwani and Zulu Ghevriya, to build a chain of smiles and contribute back to different charity sectors about 1% of loose diamonds and 3% of jewellery revenue to its charity partners including Environmental Protection, Medical Support, Education Support, Animal Protection etc.

Here, in an Exclusive Interview with Rough&Polished, Zulu Ghevariya speaks about Smiling Rocks... a dream project that will enable them to leave a positive footprint in this world through their business.

Some excerpts:

The growth and popularity of the Lab-Grown Diamonds (LGDs) have seen a humungous spurt in recent times. What could be the reason? Many natural diamond manufacturing companies have also entered the LGD sector. Your opinion?

The lab-grown diamond itself is a huge product to the product line. It is a diamond that has the same chemical, physical and optical properties as a mined diamond. It is 100% identical to the diamonds mined from Earth. Lab-grown diamond has had a huge potential since the beginning of the diamond introduction. It has great benefits such as the price being at the top where consumers are getting their diamonds in better quality and sizes.

As long as consumers are getting educated about lab-grown diamonds by brands, different retailers, gemological laboratories, the education among consumers is getting better. The acceptance of lab-grown diamonds has increased.

The market share of this business is increasing and encouraging companies such as the natural diamond business to come into the lab-grown diamond industry. It is a limitless business as I am seeing the whole industry is shaping. We might see another $80 billion industry with lab-grown diamonds and we see lab-grown diamond is becoming in their preference compare to other luxury product lines/categories.

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Image credit: Smiling Rocks

What are the growth opportunities and growth potential you see in the global markets for LGDs? Analysts see a deep drop in prices of LGDs eventually, due to mass production. In this scenario, do you see the LGD sector sustain going forward versus the mined diamonds?

The demand for lab-grown diamonds is increasing tremendously as it is a vacuum market. There is a great scope for this business to grow around the world. Every consumer is the customer for lab-grown diamonds, there are is a huge opportunity to explore the untapped market that is waiting for pioneers to introduce this innovative product to their local market.

The demand is also increasing as the correct information of lab-grown diamonds is spreading as well as consumers’ word of mouth. They are getting self-educated by finding the information on lab-grown diamonds, this gives them the confidence to go to retail stores and ask whether they are carrying this product as they are well aware of this new option.

This also motivates retailers to carry lab-grown diamond inventory in their stores. As demand increases, supplies increase eventually, which is a great sign for the industry. Many players are owning lab-grown growing facilities, hence we can predict more or less the supply and demand are both complementing each other.

I believe that even though the supply chain will increase multiple times in the coming future, the demand is very strong. I am not afraid of any overflow supply of lab-grown diamonds as the demand has huge potential on that.

Currently, I am seeing the diamond prices has been increased in the melee sizes which indicated the diamond is higher than the supply. It shows that the production by technology is getting slower against the demand and I believe it will be seen in the next few years. The bigger size diamond price has been adjusted, but it has almost adjusted to its lowest capacity. Now we can see the only growth from here in terms of the pricing as the demand increases.

Please run us through more details of your company Smiling Rocks… it’s inception, country, history, factories, product details and so on.

Smiling Rocks is a lab-grown diamond and jewellery brand launched in New York City in 2019. This brand is our dream project. If I can say, this is a philanthropic business model. It is a new business model which can inspire many companies towards the betterment of the world.

I started this business together with my brother Manish Jiwani. We both wanted to leave this world knowing that we have contributed to positivity and be a part of a positive change. Smiling Rocks hence was created to give back as much as it can through our business.The brand is supporting 4 different sectors, Environmental Protection, Education Support, Medical Support and Animal Protection and consumers can choose where they would like to contribute from their purchase.

We are keeping our production, design and manufacturing of loose diamonds and jewellery in-house. To be transparent and bring assurance to our consumers and partners, we have laser-inscribed each of our loose diamonds with our logo as a confident and brand identity mark.

Smiling Rocks is aiming to take the major share of retail business with our retail partners. We are fully geared with our beautiful collections, from Essentials to High Fashion. Most of our retail partners find comfort with the product line they are setting in.

Our new initiative is that Smiling Rocks is stepping into the Bridal category and we will be the first labelled brand that is offering bridal in lab-grown diamonds in America. We are targeting our retail partners and introducing our bridal collection program called Smiling Brides and capture a big market with our partners. Not only for our smiling brides, but we are also offering men’s engagement solitaire rings.

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Image credit: Smiling Rocks

As you are into jewellery as well, please give more information about the business; manufacturing unit/s; which markets do you supply and which consuming countries do you plan to enter in the future?

Initially, our target market is North America and we are happy to see great signs from the European market as well. We are also expanding our business in South America, Far East Asia and Australia. The information of Smiling Rocks is spreading around. We are successfully connecting to our consumer group via multiple channels such as social media, our website, articles published via our PR efforts etc.

The Natural Diamond industry is a major challenge the LGD industry is facing now? Colour-gems are capturing the imagination of jewellery connoisseurs as well. Is the war zone tough for the LGD sector going forward? Your thoughts?

The natural and lab-grown diamond industries are completely complimenting each other. It is all about providing consumers options for their luxury choices. Natural diamond has a great history of being around for billion of years and being rare in this world. Same time, lab-grown diamond has its unique identity of being a sustainable choice to young consumers.

I believe the lab-grown diamond is creating a whole new world of consumers where everyone can afford a diamond. I can see lab-grown diamond is diverting and giving more preference to consumers from their past luxury purchases in other categories such as electronics or fashion to jewellery.

With many new entrants entering the LGD sector by the day, the competitive landscape is evident as product differentiation is almost nil. Are you depending on your jewellery business to bring in uniqueness? What’s your company’s USP?

The best part of our business is that we are serving our retail partners as a brand. Smiling Rocks has a unique business concept and messaging that targets conscious consumers, the millennials and as well as jewellery lovers of any age group. Our brand has researched the current market taste and trends to bring collections that can cover any type of spending budget and design.

Our brand story is our USP. We are aiming to create a chain of the smile through sustainable luxury. The 4cs we believe are colleagues, consumers, community and care. We are all working together knowing that the end cause will bring smiles to many who are connected in this business journey and giving back. It’s very exciting for us to be a part of this type of business as not only are we happy with the beautiful jewellery we design for our consumers, we are also connected to a greater purpose to work together with them and be a force of good.

Data shows that sales of LGDs / jewellery have indicated good growth in the US market. Do you find China/Hong Kong as a potential market for LGDs? Any other consumer market/s worldwide that may show high demand in the future? Your views?

America has accepted the new change and is taking it as a new choice of consumers and are working on educating them. China is resisting as traditionally Asian countries believe luxury is an asset of purchasing. But now a new consumer of the Asian market is seeing this as a luxury and a new option in the luxury segment. The other potential markets are Europe, Australia, Japan and Korea.

Do you think the natural diamond Indian industry will gradually accept the LGDs as part of the industry? Is it possible for both sectors to co-exist without friction in the future?

As I have mentioned before, we are building a whole new industry that is parallelly shaping with the natural diamond. By entering into lab-grown diamonds, the consumers will be attracted to the natural diamond as they would like to see another high-end choice for them in natural diamond.

Heard your company participated in the recent JCK Show. What are your views on the success of the show in general and your company in particular?

Smiling Rocks had a great and successful show this year at JCK Las Vegas. There was a decent crowd at the show with serious buyers looking for new inventory or brands to introduce in their retail stores. Most of the companies had a great business and the buyers had a great appetite.

As you know that Smiling Rocks is built to give back, we had a section in our booth where we have pledged to plant 100 trees with each visitor as they visit our booth. We have pledged to plant 8,300 trees with One Tree Planted and work with them towards reforestation. We are very excited about the response we received at the show!

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