JCK Special Report: IIJS 2010 Show Celebrates Indian Jewelry Consumer



Sales in the U.S. may be slower than in years past, but the Indian consumer—long the world’s biggest buyer of gold jewelry—is just getting started on what many hope will be a prosperous road to increased sales.

The 27th edition of the India International Jewellery Show
2010
, held August 19 – 23 at the NSE grounds in Mumbai, served as an
international meeting place with one common goal for attendees: to sell to the
Indian market.

IIJS

Ribbon cutting at IIJS

In a speech at an IIJS press conference, Vasant Mehta,
chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, which is sponsored
by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry Government of India and is the
organizer of IIJS, talked about India “being on the threshold of great
expansion.”

“India is the fastest growing jewelry market in the world,”
said Mehta. “With a large pool of skilled labor, easy availability of raw
materials, India is today unabashedly surging forward to create ‘Brand India’.”

Vasant Mehta at IIJS

Vasant Mehta,
chairman of the Gem & Jewellery
Export Promotion Council

And while many—including Mehta—say the U.S. market is still
No. 1 for exports—that is a changing reality. “Ten years ago, vendors only
wanted to sell to the U.S.,” says Rajesh Lakhani, executive director at Kiran
Gems
, Mumbai. Of the fair’s 776 exhibitors (653 Indian companies and 123
foreign, according to GJEPC), many remarked on their optimism for domestic sales.

Rajesh Lakhani of Kiran Gems

Rajesh Lakhani of Kiran Gems

Lakhani says his domestic sales have been increasing
steadily for the past seven years, now totaling 20 percent of all business.
“The consumer perspective in India is that gold is a part of your life,” he
explains. To that end, Rio Tinto debuted a gifting concept at the fair,
featuring jewelry ranging in price from 6,000 Rupees ($130) to 25,000 Rupees ($535), just for
the Indian market. “India evolved under everyone’s radar,” says Kiran Vakharia, business development manager for Oro, based in Mumbai. “Even the poorest farmer who doesn’t even own a pair of slippers will save all his money and buy gold with it,” he says, also noting that this edition of IIJS is his best in three years.

Oro at IIJS

From left: Mahesh Pahuja, Avinash Pahuja, and Ravish Pahuja, all directors with Oro in Mumbai

Domestic sales bliss is equally sweet for K. Srinivasan,
managing director at Emerald Jewel Industry India, based in Coimbatore, India,
who experienced a 30 percent growth in domestic sales in just one year, confiding
to JCK that he even “picked up 50 new
clients at the IIJS show” by day four.

K. Srinivasan, managing director at Emerald Jewel Industry India

K. Srinivasan, managing director at Emerald Jewel Industry India

Pushpendra Mookim, director, Gem Crafts Enterprises (Trésor Collection in the U.S.), based in
Jaipur, picked up 12 new accounts at the show, all Indian stores. Hemant Shah,
director at Hammer Plus Jewellery, a Dubai-based manufacturer, introduced
nearly a half dozen new lines, including some German-made platinum wedding
bands (by Peter Heim) and Italian designs, for the Indian market—the latter move surprising
many considering India’s import tax, which spiked earlier in the year to “300
rupees ($6.41) per 10 grams, from 200 rupees ($4.27),” according to a Bloomberg.com report.
“People don’t mind paying more for Italian design,” Shah insists.

Pushpendra Mookim and Chandram Mookim

Pushpendra Mookim and Chandram Mookim of Gem Crafts Enterprises

Hammer Plus Jewellery

Italian designs in 18k gold and diamonds imported by Hammer Plus Jewellery for the Indian market

Oriental Gemco, Jaipur—which has maintained sales in the
U.S. for the past 10 years—unveiled the Adamas collection of rose-cut diamond
jewelry (the kind that’s been trending in the U.S. for the past year and a half).
“In the Indian market, we’ve added the flavor of the West,” says Pravesh Nigam,
manager. “The U.S. has been on a price fix of $500 – $2,500, and it doesn’t
look like it’s moving any time soon,” he adds.

Pravesh Nigam

Pravesh Nigam of Oriental Gemco

Oriental Gemco

New from Oriental Gemco for the Indian market: diamond slice jewelry

And though 90 percent of Shree Ramkrishan Export’s loose
diamond business is still international, company officials maintain that domestic
diamond sales are on the rise. “Indian consumers have the capacity to buy,”
says Shreyans Dholakia, owner. “Store owners are also coming to the show for
education, where we try to teach them the benefits of online retailing.” Other
exhibitors, including Srinivasan, see the diamond trend as well, particularly in
finished jewelry.

Shreyans Dholakia

Shreyans Dholakia of Shree Ramkrishna Export

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Finja, known for its Au brand and as
a manufacturer in the Middle East, has been operating in India for just one
year; the company’s goal: to arm every woman with one of its bangles. “We are making them
now for the Indian market,” says Ajay Sobhraj, director. With 1,500 accounts
already in the country, Sobhraj is well on his way to attaining his objective.

Ajay Sobhraj

Ajay Sobhraj, director of Finja

Finja bangles

Bangle bracelets from Finja

Some 26,000 visitors pre-registered to attend IIJS; final
attendance figures have not yet been released by GJEPC. According to the agency,
India’s jewelry and gemstone industry employs 1.5 million workers and
contributes 13 percent to the country’s total merchandise exports.