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09 january 2023
vallabhbhai_patel_xxc.pngVallabhbhai Patel, Chairman of the Surat Diamond Bourse, looks towards the Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) to play an important role in turning Surat into the world’s largest manufacturing and trading diamond hub in a short period.

Vallabhbhai dreamed of building the world’s largest commercial building in Surat for the Indian diamond industry. He conceptualized the ‘Surat Diamond Bourse’ (SDB), which is set to redefine the potential of the Indian diamond industry going forward.

Vallabhbhai Patel, the Founder of Kiran Gems entered the industry over four decades ago. An astute businessman, he is the driving force behind Kiran Gem’s emergence as a global leader in diamond manufacturing.

In an exclusive interview here with Rough&Polished, Vallabhbhai Patel speaks about the upcoming SDB, which the Indian diamond industry looks forward to with great anticipation.

Some excerpts:

We hear that the grand opening of the Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB), the largest bourse in the world, will take place mid-2023? Please give us an update of the plans for the inauguration of SDB.

The construction work of Surat Diamond Bourse is completed, and interior work of many offices is on the urge of completion. From the beginning of the project, we had decided to inaugurate SDB, when 10% - 20% offices would complete the interior work and be ready for operation. So immediately after inauguration business can be started. The inauguration ceremony will be grand, and the august presence of many national and international personalities will be there led by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendrabhai Modi.

Market watchers say that the entire Mumbai diamond sector will make an exodus to Surat in due time, once the SDB starts full time operations. Your thoughts?

At SDB, we are looking at a very big picture for the growth of the entire diamond and gems and jewellery industry by providing the best infrastructure and modern facilities required for diamond trading along with advanced security systems.

Those who intended to start their business at SDB had booked their office at the beginning, and few others joined in due course of time. It should be the choice of every businessman / company where they want to operate their business.

Surat is attributed to more than 90% of cutting and polishing of diamonds worldwide and it is always advantageous to have a trading centre in vicinity.

Once the inauguration of SDB is done, the majority of diamond traders, manufacturers and sellers will shift from Mumbai to Surat because of growing commercialization and professionalism in the diamond market. The SDB has come up with an amazing concept of accommodating all the buyers, manufacturers and sellers under one single roof, which will help them to get easy accessibility of everything they need at one single place.

excl_09012023_surat_diamond_bourse.png
Image credit: Surat Diamond Bourse

For the benefit of our new readers, please give us details of all the facilities available within the SDB -the diamond hub, to do diamond business.

With more than 6.7 million sq. ft of construction, SDB premise is spread in 143,825 sq. metres. Under one roof more than 4 500 offices for diamond and gems and jewellery trade is the biggest advantage for any buyer or seller around the world.

Convenient and more spacious customs clearance facilities within campus will make import and export operations faster, safe and convenient. There will be 4 central safe vaults for secure operations.

Other than these, occupants as well as visitors can get access to 9 banks, Travel Desk, Stationary, Money Exchange, Diamond Tools & Accessories, Laboratories and 30 different options for restaurants, cafés, food kiosks, etc.

To provide a secure business atmosphere, we have deployed state of art security systems with the latest available technology. Beautiful landscape and atriums are the spaces planned for occupants to meet and greet.

The entire campus has been designed as a ‘green’ building considering best energy saving practice. In a nutshell, we have studied all the requirements for diamond trading at the time of planning and the result of that is that SDB will be the most efficient building in terms of business convenience, security and sustainability.

Have all the units at SDB booked at present, and how many international buyers as of today?

SDB is a 'not for profit' organization. We have designed the building as per the business requirement. You can say SDB was pre-booked on Day one.

While designing there was approximately 2% space that was excess to maintain uniformity, and these 2% office space will be booked in near future by online auction.

Further, many members who reside outside India and have booked offices in SDB to start their business of trading or manufacturing or selling in India, by setting up their unit in SDB.

Has the SDB approached the central government to restructure the tax system to facilitate 'auctions' in India, enabling direct supply of rough diamonds? What is the current situation?

Operations in SDB are yet to start. With 4500+ offices and members, SDB will become the voice of industry in the coming days. But right now, our priority at SDB is to start operations. We will proceed appropriately as and when required, for the benefit of trade.

Wrapping up, considering the lab-grown diamond (LGD) sector is a serious competitor now, how do you foresee the growth of the Indian natural diamond sector, given that India is the largest manufacturer of natural diamonds?

First of all, LGD is not a competitor to natural diamonds, but it is opening a new horizon for industry by adding a new segment of users. Cutting and polishing business may expand due to this additional volume of LGD other than volume of natural diamonds. The Indian diamond industry is growing and moving ahead speedily with new technologies as well, as a very special skill is available in India.

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