India’s leading trade show, IIJS Premiere, opened today in Mumbai with strong footfall but mounting concerns over a tough global economic outlook and challenges in the diamond sector.
The halls were packed, auguring for brisk order flow by both domestic Indian and foreign retail buyers visiting the event. But concerns over the economic climate, notably the impact of the U.S.-China trade war, underpinned the show, which closes Aug. 12.
Senior officials at India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), the organizer of the event, spoke of a decline in rough diamond imports to India and a challenging demand picture.
“Sentiment remains weak,” said Sabyasachi Ray, executive director of the GJEPC. “The answer to boost demand will lie in a strong commitment to marketing.”
India processes most of the world’s diamonds and was hard hit by a disappointing Christmas season in the U.S., which led to a decline in 2019 orders among U.S. retailers.
India is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of gemstones and jewelry, currently exporting some $40 billion per year, with aims to raise that turnover to $75 billion by 2025.
The IIJS Premiere show is the country’s main conduit for export jewelry sales. On the first night of the show, at the Jewellers for Hope charity dinner, Indian jewelers presented a series of projects they’d financed to improve the livelihoods of marginalized communities in India.
Providing a much-needed boost to the Indian industry, a number of seminars were being held, such as, “Turning Indian Jewellers Into Global Exporters and Brands by 2025,” which looked at opportunities faced by Indian jewelers willing to set up in foreign countries to export Indian-manufactured jewelry.
The domestic Indian jewelry market appeared to be solidly supported by a strong bridal demand. “Marriages are one of the largest selling domestic segments,” says Yash Agarwal, creative director of Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas Jewellers.
Jewelers said privately that they were not overly concerned about the soaring gold prices because of the strong gold demand in India for cultural reasons and its longer-term investment appeal.
“The U.S.-China trade war, with the U.S. putting a 10% duty on Chinese exports of gems and jewelry, gives an opportunity to Indian jewelry exporters to increase their market share of $6 billion in the U.S.,” GJEPC chairman Pramod Kumar Agarwal said at a press conference on opening day. “The Indian industry needs to gear up for U.S. and China.”
Among the show’s emerging trends was a preference for vibrant, multihued styles. “A cocktail of colors is the hot trend,” said Yogendra Sethi, founder-designer of YS18, based in Jaipur, the colored gemstone hub of India. He added, “Seventy-five percent of my business is exporting to the U.S., our biggest and only market outside India.”
At Surat-based BR Designs, styles featuring a mix of fancy-shape diamonds—emerald, pear, marquise, and baguette—were performing well.
But classic never goes out of style. “The trend of chandelier earrings and big rings with a mix of contemporary and abstract motifs still makes a style statement,” said Romy Mehta, president of Bapalal Keshavlal. “A must-have, these jewels feature different diamond shapes and sculptured designs.”
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