India July gem and jewelry exports up 25%

India’s earnings from exports of gems and jewelry shot up 25% in July to a provisional $702 million from $560 million in the same month a year ago, the Dow Jones news service reported.

“Demand is more and people have started looking at gems and jewelry as a better investment,” Sanjay Kothari, chairman of India’s Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council, reportedly said late Thursday.

The U.S. accounts for about half of India’s annual gems and jewelry exports, he reportedly said.

Gem and jewelry exports are India’s largest foreign exchange earners and make up nearly a fifth of the country’s exports revenue. Export earnings have been on the rise since November 2001.

In the fiscal year started April 1, earnings are 30% higher at a provisional $2.65 billion compared with $2.04 billion in the April-July 2001 period, Kothari reportedly said.

According to Kothari, exports are likely to receive a boost in the next few months following the U.S. decision Wednesday to withdraw a 5.5% duty on jewelry imports from India.

The decision was taken last year, but implemented only Wednesday, he added.

In July, earnings from exports of cut and polished diamonds were up 23% at $566 million provisionally from $460 million in the corresponding month a year ago, Kothari reportedly said.

Diamonds alone account for about 80% of India’s total gems and jewelry sales.

In the April-July period, diamond export earnings rose 30% to a provisional $ 2.02 billion compared with $1.55 billion in the April-July 2001 period, Kothari reportedly said.