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Does the last month of 2013 bring the first break in the clouds for 2014?

14 january 2014

Rounding up December 2013 is more a ‘wrap-up’ of a rather eventful year for the Indian diamond industry. Besides polished prices being flat and imports of polished diamonds exceeding exports, a much more disturbing matter gripped the industry. The incidences of synthetic diamonds mixed with natural diamonds, was a matter of great concern for the industry members, who were baffled on how to tackle this problem.  On the manufacturing side, high rough prices and diamond financing continued to be a problem during the month, especially for the small and medium diamond cutting units.

In a surprise move, the Indian Government took an all-important step and banned imports via SEZs, to control round tripping - much to the relief of the industry members. Market leaders, who were supportive of the cutting and polishing sector, appreciated the government’s move. But business was as usual in the Indian diamond market with trading quite active all through the month. Demand from overseas consuming countries was quite high, with sales reporting to be on the rise during festive season, not forgetting the Valentine Day sales. The US market revival brought some good cheer too, with reports of good Christmas sales coming in.

Polished trading was quite normal per se and rough trading was more active than the earlier month, despite liquidity constrains. But, the De Beers Sight itself was a damper with no change in prices; and according to reports, the additional allocations offered were refused by the Sightholders - a sign of things to come. Not surprising that Indian manufacturers are banking on the open market for their requirements of rough diamonds to feed their factories. Also, with lending banks becoming tight-fisted, manufacturers faced liquidity problems on a daily basis, more so the smaller companies whose fundamentals were not strong enough.

As mentioned above, synthetic diamonds made very disturbing news in India and overseas. And with buyers expressing concern, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India put in all efforts to solve the problem by forming many ‘committees’; and also appointing ‘organisations’ to research and provide reports on the matter.  Appointed experts by GJEPC are also camping in Surat to secretively check and detect the synthetic manufacturers, who are supposedly selling them without any disclosures. Besides the Detection Centre that was opened in Bharat Diamond Bourse, many individual companies like Kiran Gems too have equipped themselves with CVD detection machines. The Indian industry is not leaving any stone unturned to retain the confidence it has built over the years, as ‘consumer confidence’ is crucial for the future of the Indian diamond industry.

In a historic first, the GJEPC, in affiliation with the Surat Diamond Association (SDA) held the India Gem & Jewellery Machinery Expo (IGJME) in Surat. The machinery expo, which was held on 13-15 December 2013 and featured leading domestic and international machinery and technology providers, was the first of its kind in the country.

As far as the domestic market goes, it was business as usual for the bigger companies. But the smaller players did face problems with wafer-thin profits, as they had to purchase gold on a premium. While restrictions and taxes imposed on gold by the government crippled supplies causing great discomfort to the domestic sector, demand for diamonds showed an increase during the month. With diamond jewellery becoming more popular, it all augurs well for the diamond industry which is able to sustain itself. The Indian domestic market is seeing a good increase in demand of all sizes and quality of diamond of late, thanks to the changing tastes of the Indian consumers. The retail business was comfortably good in India, despite the low gold availability making it difficult for the local manufacturers. Major retail chains like Malabar Gold, Kalyan Jewellers, PC Jewellers, and Joyalukkas etc., are vying with each other to open as many showrooms as they can, not only in India but globally. A sign that the local businesses will survive any hiccups that may come its way in the future. The successful Jaipur Jewellery Show was another indication that ‘all’s well’ with the local sector, despite the restriction on gold, weak rupee etc.

The month of December saw many ‘launches’ of Jewellery Collections in India. To list a few, the MBJ, known in India as well as overseas for breathtaking designer diamond jewellery, rose cut antique, kundan-jadau, polki and gold jewellery, launched an impressive bridal collection. On display at Jaipur Jewellery Show was MBJ’s bridal collection of over 500 exquisite pieces, the largest ever in the category. This collection is traditionally modern - a tribute to the contemporary women who, while embracing global trends, want to remain connected to their roots. Another company, Ghanasingh Be True, launched a new elegant range of Christmas Collection. Keeping the festive spirit alive and celebrating 108 years, Ghanasingh Be True launched ‘El Clásico’ timeless jewellery pieces.  It is an inspired collection that comprises traditional and contemporary elegance. An eclectic mix of earrings, rings, necklace which displays vibrant colours playing a lot with pearls, precious stones, uncut diamonds that adds a contemporary touch to it. It definitely is one of its kinds which illustrate beauty and prosperity. To celebrate the launch of Forevermark in Thiruvananthapuram, Sunny Diamonds, previewed a stunning collection with a blend of traditional and contemporary designs. Forevermark too showcased some exceptional diamonds and spectacular pieces from the Cornerstones collection. The Cornerstones collection, a celebration of true love honours the shared values of relationships. Each piece features a Forevermark diamond held fast by four elegantly adorned prongs. The four corners of the design represent honesty, trust, respect and appreciation as the shared values of a relationship. PC Jewellers launched its new collection ‘SPECTRUM’ keeping in mind the shift towards light and easy to wear jewellery amongst younger and working population. Inspired by the colours of the rainbow, the designs are engraved with stylish and colourful diamonds and stones cut in trendy shapes and affixed on yellow and white gold metal base. The collection consists of earrings, bracelets, rings, pendants and pendant sets and come in the many colours of the rainbow, ranging through red to violet.

The demand, supply pattern during the month of December 2013 was as follows:

POLISHED: Rounds

0.005-0.15 cts, F-J / SI+, selling very well; 1/5, H-J / VS, good demand

1/4-3/8, good demand, moving well 1/4-3/4, D-J / SI+, selling very well, but not much of goods in the market

1/2-3/4, white / pique, moving well, less goods reported

0.80-0.90 cts, selling well; F-J / VVS goods / shortage reported

1.00-3.00 cts, D-K / SI to pique, selling well, good demand, almost no goods in market

1.00-3.00 cts, H-J / SI1+ good demand for good makes

4.00+ cts, H-M / VS+ selling ok, but no goods

Fancy Cuts

Emeralds and Stabbes (wide baguettes), 0.25-1.00 cts, very good demand D-J / VS+, selling well.

Marquises 0.25-5.00 cts, F-J / VS+, moving well, good demand

Princesses, Pears and Emeralds, 2.00-5.00 cts, good demand for H-K / VS, moving well

ROUGH:

Makeables: high demand; shortage of goods.

1-5 point: very good demand: makeables. good demand: OW TTLB & TTLC. Shortage of goods

6-20 point: good demand: crystals/makeables. Shortage reported

Fancies:

21-50 point: fancy shapes are in very good demand, again shortage reported

0.51-1.00 carat: good demand: makeables; crystals.

1.01-2.00 carat: good demand: rounds; crystals, all fancy shapes. Shortage of goods

2.01-3.00 carat: very high demand / shortage of goods

5.00 carat+: Fair demand: $1,000+ makeables, crystals & all fancy shapes

Mixed Lot: good demand

Aruna Gaitonde, Rough&Polished, Mumbai