Following a vote on Monday, members of the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) have decided to lift the ban that was instated in 2015, prohibiting the trade in LGD. According to BDB officials, companies will have to adhere to a set of rules to be able to trade LGD, such as the creation and registration of separate entities for those trading in both (natural) diamonds and LGD, implementation of separate inventories and processes etc. Earlier, India's GJEPC announced the addition of a LGD membership category, following requests of members.
In a contribution on Rough & Polished India correspondent Aruna details India's figures for September, released by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
Key take-aways comparing September 2020 to September 2019:
- polished exports were down 19.6%
- rough imports increased modestly with 16.18%
- LGD polished exports were up 89.55%
- LGD rough imports increased 117.6%
Rapaport News reports that the Holiday Season rush is boosting markets, demonstrated by a rebound in De Beers third quarter sales, up to 6.6m ct in Q3, compared to barely 300k sold ct in Q2, at the height of the global pandemic. Rapaport calculates that sales increased 10% y-o-y, reflecting pent up demand and easing restrictions in trade and manufacturing hubs across the globe.
Economic Times India reports that this year, some 650,000 diamond polishers in the country's main polishing hub Surat will skip the Diwali holidays this year, as global demand for polished diamonds is ramping up ahead of the holiday season. By continuing to work, many units are trying to make up for losses, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the virtual shutdown of manufacturing. An estimated 5,000 polishing units out of 7,000 total have now resumed activities, at 70% capacity and according to the GJEPC, India's overall exports are now estimated to be at 50%.
According to industry insiders, some 120 people were arrested last week, as Chinese authorities carried out a raid in several cities in a case of diamond smuggling. Idex Online reports that the arrests were made at Indian-run diamond factories in China, further straining trade relations between India and China, after a couple was caught with 150 parcels of undocumented diamonds, allegedly smuggled into mainland China via Hong Kong, in Shenzhen.
In a communication to its clients, Petra Diamonds has announced it will be charging its India-based clients an additional 2.041% on purchases through its Online Bidding Platform as well as on purchases made through Petra's other branches (Petra Diamonds Ltd and Petra Diamonds Belgium).
According to figures released by the GJEPC, India's rough imports plummeted to 82% in the period between April and July, as a consequence of the global pandemic as well as a voluntary ban on rough imports that was implemented for several months. In value, rough imports decreased sharply from US$ 4 billion to US $712 million, while polished exports fell 47% to US$ 2.7 billion (compared to US$ 5 billion year-on-year).
After months of a virtual standstill in most of India's polishing industry, the Indian diamond industry trade bodies say polishing activity in Surat is now at 20-30% capacity, and they are no longer calling on the local manufacturing sector to voluntarily ban imports of rough diamonds.
It was a matter of time before someone would do it, and diamond-studded face masks are the latest craze in India, Times of India reports. One jeweler came up with the idea when he had to create jewelry for a wedding and created the sparkling face masks for both bride and groom.
In a response to The Diamond Loupe, the International Gemological Institute (IGI), says to be shocked about a media post that is circulating among diamond trading communities. The visual, a screenshot of which can be viewed here, calls on diamond traders "to boycott China" by not using IGI certificates. In 2018, Chinese conglomerate Fosun acquired an 80% stake in IGI, the Antwerp-based diamond grading lab.
India's woes continue as more COVID-19 cases in Surat, which some deem a veritable infection hotspot, forced a week-long closure of manufacturing units. Meanwhile, the GJEPC and other industry bodies are extending the voluntary ban of rough diamonds from July 10-31st and said they will be calling on large producers to continue their flexibility towards long-term customers. At the same time, as tensions continue to rise between India and China, traders are forced to reroute polished exports to Hong Kong, which are being blocked by Chinese customs.
As the tensions between India and China continue to rise after the military standoff at Ladakh, a fierce trade war between the two countries is looming, and imports and exports are already being affected. India Today reports that while in India, the call to boycott Chinese goods is sounding louder and louder, exporters are experiencing trouble to export goods to Hong Kong and Mainland China, as shipments are blocked by Chinese Customs. On Indian side, the article says, shipment containers from China are also being blocked by Indian Customs in Mumbai and Chennai.
According to Business Standard, the voluntary moratorium on rough diamond imports into the country, might be extended, citing spokespersons of the GJEPC saying that inventory levels remain high, estimated at 2.3 billion US$, with no need for imports to resume as "it would take another two or three months to service previous orders".
Economic Times India reports that fears are rising that one of Mumbai's top angadia's, according to the article "holding several millions of dollars worth of diamonds", has vanished, after closing shop early in the Bharat Diamond Bourse on Wednesday. According to the article, rumours are circulating that the person in question was in financial trouble, due to property deals falling through. In India, the angadia's are an informal but highly popular network of couriers that transport cash and rough and polished diamonds between Mumbai and the country's polishing hub in Gujarat, Surat.
Local authorities have ordered the partial closure of about eight diamond-cutting firms in Surat after 23 workers tested positive for COVID-19. Several of their staff members will also undergo a 14-day quarantine, as will the families of those confirmed to be infected.
The Indian diamond industry has lost an iconic figure, with the passing of Arunkumar R. Mehta, born in 1940, one of the founding fathers of the diamond trading and polishing industry in the country. Coming from humble beginnings, Arunbhai set up a small diamond polishing unit in 1960, which under his tenure would grow to become one of the biggest names in the industry, multinational diamond company Rosy Blue. Revered for his insight and leadership, Arunbhai Mehta served many positions in various Indian trade organizations.
As of April 1st, a new 2% tax on online sales, the “Equalization Levy” (EL), came into force in India which is having a major impact on Indian diamond manufacturing and trading companies who buy rough or polished stones via online channels, such as online auctions or tenders, trading platforms. Foreign companies that are considered an “e-commerce operator”, defined as a non-resident that owns, operates or manages a digital or electronic facility or platform for online sale of goods or the online provision of services”, will be forced to charge 2% on top of the sales amount, when selling to
While India has allowed some activity to resume in Surat, the country's polishing hub, the industry has announced that the voluntary moratorium on rough imports is delayed to June 1st, with the call to its members to not import rough diamonds for the entire month of June, possibly longer.
As many countries are easing out of strict quarantaine, GIA has announced it has reopened its labs in Antwerp, Carlsbad, Gaborone, Johannesburg and Tokyo, each with modified schedules. In Antwerp and Johannesburg, visitors are welcome by appointment, in Tokyo, Carlsbad and Gaborone, the labs will only accept submissions via shipment.
Times of India reports that India's Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex as well as the Gems and Jewellery industry at Seepz MIDC can resume operations, albeit with a strongly reduced workforce (10%). India's diamond and jewellery industry has been suffering as the country continues to be under strict lockdown, and export shipments are blocked. Both area's are located in so-called "red zones", which is why only limited workforce can be allowed, state officials said.
Times of India reports that a 700 million US$ shipment of loose diamonds, destined for Hong Kong, is stuck at the Bharat Diamond Bourse, despite efforts to persuade government to allow the Bourse to resume activities with minimal workforce. According to a spokesperson for the Gem and Jewellery Promotion Council (GJEPC), the diamond industry in India, already heavily impacted by lockdown measures, could suffer even more because of exports being blocked; "if business would shift to China and Thailand ... it would be a permanent loss".
Revenue from India’s diamond polishing industry is set to plunge to its lowest level in a decade as COVID-19 measures in the U.S. and Europe (Belgium) has hindered sales and caused prices to fall, reports an India credit-rating agency. The agency projects sales in fiscal 2021 (April 2t020 - March 2021) to drop to the lowest level in a decade, $13-15 billion, which is 21%-32% lower than the estimated ~$19 billion in fiscal 2020 revenues and 38%-46% lower than the $24 billion earned in fiscal 2019.
In a letter signed by GJEPC Chairman Agrawal, President of the Bharat Diamond Bourse Anoop Mehta and Marendra V Gandhi, President of the Mumbai Diamond Merchants Association, the industry organizations are calling on their members to implement a cessation of rough diamond imports for the duration of one month, starting May 15.
The writing appears to be on the proverbial wall: the Indian diamond industry is careening toward a temporary ban on rough-diamond imports which, if implemented, will effectively bring rough diamond trading to a halt. How can manufacturers survive without rough, you may ask? If Chaim Even-Zohar’s calculations are correct, it is because they are sitting on $1.5-$2 billion of rough diamond inventory already, with another $5 billion in polished ready for sale. The question then becomes: why buy more?
For a few days now, rumor in the industry has it that the Indian diamond industry - or at least some members - want to impose a voluntary ban on rough imports into the country. The rumours aren’t confirmed by any official body, but some sources claim the voluntary ban would start one week after India lifts the strict lockdown measures - preliminary scheduled for May 3 - and would be instated for one month, others claim the ban would last as long as three months.
The Government of India has decided to extend its nationwide lockdown until 3 May to slow down the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, but is inclined to allow some factories, including some diamond manufacturing units, to resume operations with restrictions.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, several industry initiatives are taken to provide relief across the world to all those affected by the crisis.
In the view of the current situation, the nationwide complete lockdown will be in place for 21 days. If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days, we will be pushed back 21 years.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking to the nation of India on March 24.
India’s exports of cut and polished diamonds declined dramatically compared to last year’s levels of trade, declining by 41% during the month of February 2020, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The GJEPC attributed the decline mainly to the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, India, is facing a potentially massive liquidity crisis as a result of overdue payments owed by diamond traders in China and Hong Kong in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, writes The Times of India. Industry estimates estimate the value of those overdue payments at Rs5,000 crore, about $670 million, in the past month alone.
Mumbai Customs in India has seized two shipments of diamonds from Antwerp – one rough, one polished – on very questionable grounds, according to a trusted source. Another sixteen shipments are on hold.
India’s exports of polished diamonds continue to fall short of last year’s levels, declining by 5.7% during the month of January 2020, according to provisional data released by The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The value of rough-diamond imports for manufacturing fell again as well, despite a notable increase in volume. Meanwhile, India's synthetic-diamond imports (rough) and exports (polished) continue to grow rapidly.
Indian diamond manufacturer and exporter Star Rays announced it is working towards becoming India’s first carbon-neutral diamond company, highlighting its commitment to sustainable business practices.
India's representative body for the diamond and gem trade, the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), has appealed to the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India to revise credit terms for exporters and importers in the gems and jewelry trade which has been badly affected by the Hong Kong protests last year and the subsequent recent novel coronavirus outbreak.
Concern about the impact of the coronavirus on the diamond and jewelry trade is growing, not only in China, but also in the markets that supply China, like Hong Kong and India. Events have been concelled, retail sales have plummeted and the outbreak of the virus in China has already had a ripple effect on diamond supply chains as the death toll passes 1,000. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
One of the larger Indian diamond manufacturers, importer/exporter and De Beers Sightholder M. Suresh has opened a diamond cutting and polishing center equipped with high-end technology in the Free Port of Vladivostok, says the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East. Russian miner Alrosa will supply them with rough diamonds for polishing.
India's polished-diamond exports declined in value by 15.5% over the full course of 2019 on a 13% decline in the volume of goods exported, according to statistics published by India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The decline in the polished trade triggered a slowdown in manufacturing, and consequently of their demand for rough imports, which declined 18% in value on a 9% decrease in the volume of rough imported.
The Titan Company announced in its Q3 FY ’20 update that jewelry sales in December were were better than expected despite “the general economic slowdown in the economy leading to poor consumer sentimenthit." The company said its revenue growth was "possibly due to a good wedding season" and that the jewelry industry as a whole witnessed “reasonable growth” in the festive Diwali season this year. The company itself did better, the statement reads, while also gaining market share.
The Bunder Diamond Mine, located in Chhattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, India, has been sold to Essel Mining, a company owned by the Aditya Birla Group, which will acquire mining rights with a 50-year government lease. The Bunder mine is estimated to have reserves of about 34 million carats.
In its latest report, Canada-based NGO IMPACT claims India has become the world’s hotspot for conflict gold originating from Africa and South America. According to IMPACT, the country imports roughly a 1,000 tonnes of gold per year, 25% more than the official figures state.
In their research, IMPACT says it has revealed how illicit gold, potentially linked to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption, is smuggled into India – one third of the world’s gold passes through the country – primarily via the United Arab Emirates.