India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) conducted a series of events in Jaipur during November, including one of the only physical gemstone trade shows to be held during 2020.
The inaugural India Rough Gemstones Sourcing Show began in Jaipur on 2 November and will run until 11 December. Adhering to strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, disinfection, compulsory mask-wearing, and strict social distancing policies have been implemented with a maximum of 12 people inside at any point.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Jaipur commissioner of customs, opened the show. Several GJEPC executives were also present, including chairman Colin Shah and Vijay Kedia, convenor of coloured gemstones and pearls.
The purpose of the show is to enable the direct sourcing of rough colour gemstones for Indian manufacturers, with exhibitors including Gemfields, which is presenting emeralds from its Kagem Mine in Colombia.
While India is known as a diamond-manufacturing centre, it is also the world’s premier producer of cut and polished emeralds, tanzanites and morganites; according to the GJEPC, more than 90 per cent of the world’s emeralds are processed in Jaipur.
Colloquially known as the Pink City, Jaipur was singled out by the GJEPC as a key location for the gem and jewellery industry in 2020; the first International Gem & Jewellery Show Jaipur was slated for 1–3 April, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suresh Kumar, joint secretary – Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said there had been substantial investment in the city’s gem and jewellery infrastructure, including a gemstone bourse, upgraded gemstone testing laboratory, and Common Facility Centre, which provides access to a pool of advanced machinery for small and medium enterprises.
“The city will be the global centre of excellence for all gemstones. We can easily move from the fifth to the first position globally in gemstones with so many infrastructural facilities in place,” Kumar said.
In addition to the physical show, the GJEPC introduced a series of Virtual Buyer-Seller Meets (VBSM) in August. An emerald VBSM was held from 3–6 November, featuring 10 exhibitors from Jaipur and 22 buyers heralding from China, the US, Russia, Europe and Australia.
A VBSM for other coloured gemstones was held from 9–12 November, featuring 10 exhibitors from Jaipur and Delhi, with 28 buyers from the US, China, UK, Spain, Latin America, and Switzerland.
GJEPC chairman Shah said, “We are taking all possible initiatives to boost the Indian gems and jewellery industry to become the world’s largest hub for the gems and jewellery exports by 2025. As it’s an import-dependent industry, sustained supply of rough is a key to consistent manufacturing.”
Shah said the virtual format was “the only way forward to conduct business” while international travel restrictions remain in place, and praised the VBSM as “fast, cost-effective and highly productive”.
The GJEPC’s Kedia added, “It is the one-on-one interaction in a concentrated manner that helps you understand the needs of the customer. Physical shows are ideal but the [digital] initiative has given an impetus to the lethargic business environment due to the pandemic.”
Anurag Khandelwal, director Anurag International – which deals in Zambian emeralds and manufactures fancy shapes in all sizes for the export market – said, “The virtual experience was a practical move by the GJEPC in times when business was just limping back to near-normalcy.
“Buyer-Seller meets are generally not meant for sales conversions – it is primarily about meeting new buyers and getting to know their requirements. In our case, we got queries about customising marquise, round and octagon shapes in various carat sizes.”
Mehul Shah, director, M&M Gems, called the VBSM a “good initiative” with “great potential”, explaining, “No-one expected that the industry would one day buy and sell gemstones online. It is too early to say if sales conversions will happen, but the VBSM medium has a great potential to become yet another viable platform for conducting business – albeit with high-tech solutions, which is a must when selling gemstones.”
Ramsaran Tambi, of coloured gemstone business Swastic Exports which exhibited at both the emerald and colour gemstone VBSMs, added, “Virtual meets will redefine the way we conduct business from now on. The conventional ways will have to be tweaked, and everyone will eventually have to embrace the technical change.”
Indeed, the GJEPC’s next International Gem & Jewellery Show will be held digitally from 18–21 January.
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