Diamonds, gemstone certification gaining ground

DiamondWatch“The gemstone certification business is around Rs. 500 crore in India and is growing in strong double digits,” says Gaurav Issar, Managing Director, IDT India.

Buying jewellery is almost like a religion in India and has clearly emerged as an essential lifestyle product. With hike in the gold prices, many Indian buyers are now eyeing upon diamonds and gems as an option. This is leading to a speedy growth of the diamond and gem certification business.

Every person around the world is fond of precious and semi-precious stones and buys them in their individual capacity. However, there is always a doubt in buyers mind about the purity of diamonds and gemstones bought.

In India, certification is dominated by few well-known players who have a national presence. These include the Gemological Institute of India (GII), Indian Gemological Institute and Institute of Diamond Trade (IDT).

The International Gemological Institute (IGI), the first international lab established in India, commemorated its 15-year anniversary last week. IGI India has played a pioneering role in providing structure and setting standards for certification and the study of gemology – including jewellery design courses – in India, both with retailers and consumers. At the time, almost no one in the Indian marketplace was utilizing independent diamond grading reports. Today, IGI India services the leading diamond traders, jewellers, jewellery showrooms and the most popular jewellery brands across the country and has substantially contributed to the overall growth of India’s diamond and jewellery industry.

After gold, diamonds most preferred investment

After gold, diamonds are perhaps the preferred investment, said diamond and gemstone trader Parag Patel, who operates out of Mumbai’s diamond hub in Opera House. He felt high net worth individuals (HNIs) buy stones irrespective of the economic environment.

“The gemstone certification business is around Rs. 500 crore in India and is growing in strong double digits,” said Gaurav Issar, Managing Director, IDT India, one of the oldest gemological laboratories focused on certification, adding that certification was not an expensive proposition. Certification usually ranges from 0.1 to 0.3 per cent of the product cost.

To authenticate the product it’s important to know the source of the product. Mr. Patel said it was important to go through the right channel to get the authentic product. “Certification by a recognised laboratory confirms the product sold by the jeweller and is done with the latest machines.”

Frequent buyers are well-versed in the nuances but it can be quite a handful for most, Issar said. The stones are graded and diamonds are tested for carat, colour, clarity and cut. They are also tested for laser drilling, fracture filling, chemical vapour deposits (CVD) among others.

He adds, “The certificate acts as a confidence booster to the jeweller or the manufacturer for the purchase of loose gems or studded jewellery he has bought and he passes on the same confidence to the customer, who feels satisfied when he gets a laboratory certificate.”

IGI’s worldwide co-CEO, Roland Lorié said, “India has become the world’s foremost diamond center and we are very proud to have been a significant part of this development. At the same time, there is still room for growth, so we look forward to many more years of continued success in the region.”

Shady trading

The diamonds market is reported to have maximum unscrupulous trading. Issar said, “Products with the same density, shape, cut and feel pass off as diamonds. Laboratory tests easily pick up the flaws.” Haresh Soni, Chairman, All India Gem & Jewellery Traders Federation (GJF) welcomed the growth of such labs. “It will increase transparency and certainly benefit the consumer in terms of quality assurance.” Certification is not mandatory in jewellery exports, Soni said, but “voluntarily certification happens in about 98 per cent transactions.”

The offline jewellery market in India is presently estimated at US $16 billion and is growing at 40% per annum. IDT is uniquely positioned to exploit the emerging business opportunity for certification presented by a greater number of jewellery buyers in India. Diamonds, Diamond Jewellery and other precious and semi-precious studded jewellery in India are much bigger as category as compared to the above. Issar says, “With 2000 vendors and brands already on board, IDT is targeting at tying up with 5000 retailers and 500 brands across the country and overseas. We initiated the concept of MOBILE LABORATORY, keeping in mind huge quantities and the high cost of diamonds and jewellery. Trained gemologists with the instruments go the point of sale and certify the stuff, rather than transporting it to the laboratory.”