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Stephen Lussier, CEO of Forevermark, a De Beers brand, has been with the group since 1981. He was in India recently to launch the  International  Institute of Diamond Grading and  Inscription  facility in Surat. Jewel Trendz caught up with him to find out about the facility in Surat and how will it help the company grow.

De Beers SA, the world’s biggest producer of rough diamonds, announced the opening of the newest and most  technologically advanced Forevermark diamond inscription and  grading operation in the  world – the  International  Institute of Diamond Grading and  Inscription  facility in Surat, India.    The  facility is a $10  million investment  by  De  Beers  and  has  been  equipped with leading proprietary diamond technology. “This is 2nd facility by the group after Antwerp and it has more advanced equipments and technology compared to other institutes in India,” said Stephen Lussier.

The  facility represents  a  major investment  in  Surat,  a  world-class diamond cutting  and polishing centre characterised by skill, innovation and the effective use of technology. The most advanced colour grading machine is being set at the facility. Lussier adds, “Latest clarity grading machine, which is yet to be installed at the Antwerp facility is installed in Surat. This will not only detect synthetic diamonds, but also be helpful in treatment of unnatural diamonds.”

The primary purpose of the facility to select  and  inscribe Forevermark diamonds with the  unique serial  number that symbolises the  Forevermark promise; and  to deliver an  accurate  and reliable grading service  for Forevermark diamonds. At full capacity, it will  be able to process $500 million of diamonds annually. Very strategically the facility is based close to export facility in the city. Lussier shares, “This is a big advantage for exporters as they don’t need to send diamonds all the way to Antwerp. This will maximise the value of exports for India.”

India is a good market for Forevermark. “2013 was a tough year, followed by 2014 in which the end of the year was better. In 2015, we see us doing better growing at the rate of 40 per cent each year. We expect to double the size of Forevermark retail network under the Forevermark brand name to 4,000 stores by 2020 from about 1,600 now,” shares Lussier. Coming back to the facility, he said that the facility will also save time and money of diamond traders. The facility will also be used to recycle the diamonds that don’t match up to the mark of Forevermark.

“This facility will offer an improved service for Indian diamantaires and for Forevermark retailers here in India and abroad. We can now envisage a future where polished diamonds from around the world come to Surat to benefit from this world-leading facility,” told Lussier. Besides helping Indian retailers in many ways, the facility is all set to create new employment opportunities in India as well. “At present, only 94 people are recruited at the facility, but it has capacity of 150 people. We started training group of 10 people at our R&D facility in London a year ago. We trained them in entire process of inscribing which includes things like cloud, luster and many more such aspects. This 10 people are now training the rest of employees in the facility. The facility is expected to generate employment for 100 more people in the next one or two years,” explains Lussier.

The facility will also grade diamonds. At present the company is not yet started at full capacity, but in future plans to extend varied services to diamond traders. “This facility will offer an improved service for Indian diamantaires and for Forevermark retailers here in India and abroad. We can now envisage a future where polished diamonds from around the world come to Surat to benefit from this world-leading facility,” shares Lussier.

Rika Aash Pathak