India's cut and polished diamond exports increased by 4.2% to $23.7 billion for the financial year 2017-18 (April - March), while the value of rough diamond imports to the manufacturing hub rose by 10.6% to $18.9 billion, according to figures from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The average price per carat in the category of polished diamond exports saw an 18% increase, from approximately $614 per carat to $725 per carat. Despite the rise in polished diamond exports, which constitute 58% of their total exports, India's total gem and jewelry exports fell 5% to $41 billion, the GJEPC added. The cumulative trade in diamonds, including cut and polished imports as well as rough exports, increased by approximately 5% for the year, to $46.2 billion from $44 billion.
For the calendar year to date, January - March 2018, cut and polished exports have risen by 11% to $6.54 billion, while rough diamond imports have increased 10% to $4.8 billion. For the month of March alone, India’s polished diamond exports increased by 8% year on year to $2.03 billion, with the volume of exports falling 8% to 2.8 million carats. Compared to March of 2017, the average price per polished carat also rose by 18% to $721 per carat, consistent with the annual figures. Rough imports saw a 5% increase during the month to $1.68 billion.
At the meeting to announce the annual figures, GJEPC Chairman Pramod Agrawal and Vice Chairman Colin Shah addressed matters relating to recent challenges faced by the industry, and presented their plans and initiatives for the future growth and development of the gems and jewelry industry. Agrawal said, “The just-ended financial year has been a mixed bag with highs and lows ... we entered the new financial year on a note of optimism and determination to forge ahead.” He went on to say: “The gems and jewelry sector today contributes nearly 7% to India’s GDP and contributes over 15% to the country’s Merchandise Exports. It is an over US$41 billion industry employing a workforce of over five million currently." He said the GJEPC is looking for the industry to add another three million jobs by 2022. “GJEPC will set a Jewellery Park in Mumbai very soon,” he said, and he estimates it will generate direct employment to around 100,000 workers for the State of Maharashtra.
Shah pointed out that with India having such a large share of the world's polishing market, there was little room for growth, and hence exports of cut and polished diamonds were showing only a single digit increase. However, he pointed out, growth could come if the demand for diamonds increased worldwide. He also said the Indian diamond industry would continue to thrive despite rumors about China or some other centre taking over a larger share of the market. He highlighted various schemes like the Common Facility Centres to provide accessible and affordable infrastructure and technology for entrepreneurs in the SME sector, the Jewellery Parks and the five skilling institutes of the Indian Institute of Gems & Jewellery. He also mentioned the steps being taken by the GJEPC to ensure self-regulation by the trade on matters of compliance, such as the My KYC Bank portal launched together with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, increasing participation of companies in the Responsible Jewellery Council, and the Best Practice Principles, which are compliance guidelines of the mining companies are to be followed by the long term clients/sight holders.