The 32nd annual India International Jewelry Show (IIJS), sponsored by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), opened on Aug. 6 in Mumbai with honest speeches about the state of the trade and careful optimism.
The five-day show officially opened with a ceremony that included speeches by Rita Teaotia, the commerce secretary of India; Paul Rowley, executive vice president, global sightholder sales for De Beers; and Vipul Shah, chairman of the GJEPC.
All three speakers acknowledged the current downturn while insisting that it was a temporary dip. They emphasized that this very show could be the thing that jump- starts a comeback, citing increased exhibitor and booth numbers (up to 1,110 and 2,000, respectively).
“The Indian gem and jewelry industry has seen a slow growth in last few months this year, especially in terms of exports,” said Shah. “However…we are optimistic that business sentiments will gradually pick up toward the festive season, and the outlook will be positive for the international and domestic retailer…. We believe in a long-term perspective, and IIJS will provide the industry with the much-needed vigor and positivity to gear up for better times ahead.”
Teaotia was visiting the show for the first time as commerce minister, and she emphasized that the gem and jewelry industry had the support of the government of India, citing the implementation of the Kimberley Process in 2003 and the recent go-ahead for a special notified zone (SNZ) for the buying and selling of rough diamonds in India. (Manufacturers previously had to purchase the rough diamonds outside of the country; the SNZ was approved but opening has been delayed due to tax issues.) She promised that a decision was coming soon regarding “reasonable and rational” taxation norms for the industry.
Rowley was perhaps the most frank about the state of the industry. “Consumer demand for diamond jewelry at the end of 2014 wasn’t as strong as we all had hoped,” he said. “And growth has continued to be softer than expected so far through the course of 2015…. The diamond industry has always been both seasonal and cyclical, and we have certainly found ourselves going through a low point in the business cycle.”
But he saw reason for hope, sharing what De Beers was doing to round things out (trimming production guidance, increasing sightholder flexibility, taking a long-term view on pricing) and how he believed India would play a role in the recovery as well. “India provides the heartbeat of the modern diamond world,” he said. “The ability to maintain consumer confidence, the ability to innovate with technology, and the ability to grow diamond value will play a central role in reviving the fortunes of the diamond industry.”
The happiest exhibitors seemed to be those who had been in Las Vegas in June. “The U.S. is the only place that is buying right now,” one exhibitor told JCK.
Another bright spot: The current gold prices seem to have incited an interest in Indian gold jewelry. Several exhibitors told JCK that buyers were interested in gold, gold, gold.