November has been the month dedicated to Jaipur. The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) held a series of events in the pink city beginning with the first-ever India Rough Gemstones Sourcing Show – 2020.
The aim of the GJEPC is to enable direct sourcing of rough coloured gemstones for Indian manufacturers. The show was inaugurated by Chief Guest, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Jaipur, on 2nd November, 2020 and will continue through 11th December, 2020. Present at the inauguration were Colin Shah, Chairman, GJEPC; Nirmal Bardiya, Regional Chairman, Jaipur Region; Vijay Kedia, Convener, Coloured Gemstones and Pearls, GJEPC; Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC and other dignitaries.
Gemfields Group is displaying its rough emeralds from its Kagem mine in Zambia at the show.
According to an official release, Gemfields has progressed with a series of five small and sequential emerald auctions in November and December 2020 to address market demand for specific grades (and to supplement its long-standing direct sales programme for the lowest qualities produced by Kagem). These mini-auctions consist of a selection of grades that are typically offered at Kagem’s auctions of higher quality emeralds.
Selected lots have been made available for in-person and private viewings by customers in Tel Aviv, Singapore and Jaipur. Subsequent to the conclusion of the viewings, the auctions take place via an online auction platform specifically adapted for Gemfields and permitting customers from multiple jurisdictions to participate in a sealed-bid process. Gemfields expects to announce the final and aggregated results of the five mini-auctions on Friday 11th December, 2020.
This is a first-of-its-kind physical gemstone show during the ongoing pandemic, where all the necessary Central Government health department and State Government’s safety guidelines advised for Covid-19 like social distancing, disinfection, compulsory wearing of masks, etc. are being followed.
GJEPC has ensured that not more than 12 visitors are being allowed to visit the show at any given point in time, to avoid large gatherings.
Commenting about the initiative, Colin 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. The gemstone industry in India is an import-oriented industry. GJEPC has taken up this project to ensure that there is continuous availability of roughs for Indian gem cutting and polishing industry.”
Colin Shahfurther added, “It is always a challenge to get consistent quality and continuous supply of rough for the Indian gem cutting and polishing industry. As it’s an import-dependent industry, sustained supply of rough is a key to consistent manufacturing.”
India is one of the world’s finest cutting and polishing centres for precious and semi-precious stones, and processes more than 300 different varieties of gems in small quantities and at lower prices as compared to what prevail in China and Thailand. Jaipur processes over 90% of the world’s emeralds and what better way to add impetus to the sluggish markets impacted by the pandemic the world over. Thanks to Indian entrepreneurship, our country is the world’s biggest producer of cut and polished diamonds, emeralds, tanzanites and morganites; we are number two in silver jewellery — all this despite relying on imports of raw resources.
The Council took a bold step by introducing Virtual Buyer-Seller Meets (VBSMs) to engage buyers and sellers in these tough times. The Virtual Buyer-Seller Meet (VBSM) for Emeralds held by the GJEPC from3rd – 6th November, 2020, featured 10 exhibitors from Jaipur and saw the participation of 22 top leading international buyers from China, the USA, Russia, Europe and Australia.
The Emerald VBSM was inaugurated by Chief Guest Suresh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India,whostated that the gems and jewellery industry faced the maximum impact of the pandemic, and “I am happy to note that despite the global situation being grim, I am seeing a lot of green shoots and improvements; GJEPC has arranged an excellent platform in such a short time to support its members and buyers across the globe, which will take the business forward.
“GJEPC is doing really impressive work. The virtual formats are interactive as they focus on one-on-one meetings. This technology, especially for the new generation, will be the new normal.
“With the sanctioning of the Common Facility Centre in Jaipur, the upcoming Gem Bourse, and the newly upgraded world-class Gem Testing Laboratory, the city will be the global centre of excellence for all gemstones. We can easily move from the 5th to the first position globally in gemstones with so many infrastructural facilities in place,” Suresh Kumar concluded.
In his keynote address, Colin Shah said, “Since travel will be restricted for a few more months, the virtual format is the only way forward to conduct business. The Emerald VBSM offers an opportunity to our manufacturers to connect with new buyers for business. The next generation in Jaipur has adapted to e-commerce and is flourishing. We request our Government to introduce an e-commerce policy for the gems and jewellery sector which would further boost the growth of the sector.”
Shah added, “With every show, we are improving, based on the learnings from the previous show. The virtual business experience is also facilitating actual transactions and is proving to be a success. VBSMs are fast, cost-effective and highly productive. VBSMs will be the future of business particularly jewellery even when the world gets back to normal.”
Buyers Root For Virtual Mode
A participant in the Emerald VBSM, Anurag Khandelwal, owner, Anurag International, Jaipur, stated that his company deals in Zambian emeralds and manufactures fancy shapes in all sizes, and exports to most of the countries, with major markets being Thailand, Hong Kong, the US and the UAE and Russia. “The virtual experience was a practical move by the GJEPC in times when business was just limping back to near-normalcy. The experience was good and the buyers handpicked by the Council were genuine. I appreciate the sincere efforts made by the GEJPC. 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.” Khandelwal notes that although the ‘touch and feel’ and ‘colour checks’ happen when the buyer physically inspects the gems, the industry has to move on to the next phase and accept that online buying, too, will be the new norm and an additional platform for trading. For that, high-end videos and photos will become mandatory to showcase the colours of the gemstones.
Another exhibitor Mehul Shah, Proprietor, M&M Gems, Jaipur, rated the virtual buyer-seller meet as good and concurred that their company got to interact with new, serious buyers. “It is a good initiative, rather a surprising one, because 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.”
Akshay Chordia, Executive Director, Ashok Jewels, Jaipur, feels that business can mature soon with this additional way of doing business, which is convenient and a time-saver. “The target clients were well chosen from different markets by the Council, and we are following up with some of them.”
Vijay Kedia, Partner, Gem Park, and Convener, Coloured Gemstones and Pearls, GJEPC, also agrees that the novel mode of conducting business virtually will definitely help in reaching out to new customers. “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 Council’s initiative has given an impetus to the lethargic business environment due to the pandemic,” he said, adding, “India has highly skilled labour along with semi-automatic machines for cutting and polishing gemstones and beads. With the coming of the Gem Bourse in Jaipur, the coloured gemstone industry will have a better hold in the international market.”
On the heels of the Emerald VBSM, came the VBSM For Coloured Gemstones (other than emeralds) which was inaugurated on the 9th of November. A total of 10 exhibitors, eight from Jaipur and two from Delhi, participated in the three-day show and met 28 buyers from the USA, China, the UK, Spain, Latin America and Switzerland.
Sanjay Kala, Managing Director, Kinu Baba Gems, Jaipur, hailed the initiative of the Council and stated that the virtual platform is a valuable business tool, which is cost-effective. “We specialise in rubies and other coloured gemstones and met international customers from big and medium-sized companies as well as high-end boutiques.” Kala elaborated that overall the virtual format will force the industry to become more systematic and present inventory in a more formal, well-categorised manner. “We just hope that e-commerce policy is put into place soon by the Government so that we can boost our gemstone sales thus facilitating shipments up to $800.”
Echoing the common refrain of the need to adapt to the virtual business model, Ramsaran Tambi, Partner, Swastic Exports (associate Emerald Mines Group), reiterates that it will promote more transparency in terms of pricing, categorising in terms of colour, quality, provenance and more. Appreciating the innovative efforts of GJEPC, Tambi added that the Council had mobilised the wheels of the gemstone export sector. The virtual event was a necessity especially since travel is banned due to the pandemic. This has opened the doors to welcome a new way of conducting business. “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.”
According to Tambi, this will also drive companies big or small to enhance their social media presence. “When a new buyer wants to check your credentials, he immediately tries to find you on Instagram and Facebook pages. It is therefore vital for coloured gemstone companies to start branding themselves to stand out and speak about their brand ethos and product line.”
During the pandemic, Tambi decided to stay connected with his clients through e-newsletters, Insta posts and more. For the emerald and coloured gemstone VBSMs, the company carefully categorised and labelled their inventory with the price mentioned for all their lots. “This helped the buyer instantly to reach a decision soon. We are happy with the outcome.”
Dilip Shah, Convener of International Exhibitions, GJEPC, added, “Since the past two months, India has been witnessing demand for gemstones from the USA, Middle East, Asian countries, Hong Kong and Europe. We are happy that GJEPC could connect buyers and sellers before the Holiday season starts, and I’m reassured that the domestic demand too has revived due to the festive season.”