First, there is an oversupply of rough diamonds as manufacturers, lacking liquidity, are reducing prices to raise cash. Banks are pressuring these manufacturers to repay their loans and are hesitating to extend additional credit. In fact, banks are largely pulling out of the diamond industry altogether. Second, gold prices have spiked in recent months primarily because of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war that has caused uncertainty in world markets.
These pressures are among the reasons the India jewelry sector experienced a 10.3% year-over-year decline in overall exports in July 2019 to $2.22 billion, according to India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). This was led by an 18.29% decline in cut and polished diamond exports to $1.5 billion; while gold jewelry exports were down by 5.78% to $963 million.
So as the four-day India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) began August 9 in Mumbai this double-hit posed to make it a difficult fair. However, for reasons that are not quite clear this didn’t happen. Part of it was due to lower expectations but overall the show was a net positive no matter what the expectations were. In addition, buyers from India, which this trade show largely caters to, came out in large numbers. Part of it also was due to strong consumer demand in the U.S. so large-scale diamond and jewelry manufacturers still had access to the world’s second largest market for jewelry.
India would be able to capture more of the market share in the U.S. and other countries for its higher priced jewels if more manufacturers and designers created pieces with an international design focus. In terms of artisan crafts, there are few countries that can compete with the heritage of India, which uses jewelry-making techniques that can date back to antiquity. But the jewelry being created is still geared largely toward a domestic audience, particularly big elaborate traditional high-karat wedding jewelry. This also reflects the nature of IIJS. It’s the largest jewelry trade show in India and one of the larger such fairs in the world. However, it is unusual among international shows in that nearly all of the exhibitors are from India.
Despite this there are Indian manufacturers and designers with an outward focus. Several of them are listed below.
The last jeweler I saw at the fair was also among the best and the biggest surprise. Manisha and Saurabh Mody (also known as MSM) creates well-crafted and artistic one-of-a-kind high jewels. Fancy colored emeralds and sapphires are matched with translucent rose-cut diamonds in traditional themes, such as floral and heart shapes. The young company is still growing and so are the designs but they are well on their way to international recognition.
BR Designs specializes in contemporary designed jewels with romantic appeal, such as the Autumn Blooms earrings pictured. Many of the pieces are targeted toward self-purchasing women, which is a new concept in India. The light pieces that feature delicate contemporary designs can be worn daily. It’s a move away from big, heavy traditional wedding jewelry that is only worn on special occasions.
Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas Jewellers (also known as BG) specializes in traditional Indian themes and craftsmanship but many of the designs are suitable for markets outside India, such as the gold, diamond and gemstone chandelier earrings pictured.
Charu Sarawgi prides herself for creating traditional Indian jewels made for contemporary women in India who wants to wear jewels daily. Her international appeal was underscored when Hillary Clinton purchased a pendant from her to wear for heiress Isha Ambani’s pre-wedding event. The earrings pictured are made of engraved yellow gold with diamonds.
Multiple engraving techniques combined with openworked techniques went into these earrings by Sawansukha Jewellers, a company that specializes in traditional and contemporary luxury jewelry in gold, platinum diamonds and gems.
Vaibhav Dhadda Jewellery specializes in jewels made with baguette colored gems in a variety of color gradients. The design possibilities are endless. The “D” pendant shown uses two 18k gold curved strands that form a curved D shape. One strand is paved with diamonds and the other uses baguette-cut citrines in a gradient pattern from dark to near white.
Gem Plaza is a manufacturer, distributor and a retailer with store in Jaipur that is popular among tourists. Colored gems are its specialty. Its designs are modern interpretations of traditional jewels found in the region for hundreds of years. This includes these white gold earrings pictured encrusted with tanzanite clusters and diamonds.
Bapalal Keshavlal is a bit of a pioneer when it comes to producing contemporary Indian luxury jewelry with an international appeal. This spectacular emerald and diamond necklace is just an example of his one-of-a-kind creations.
This necklace by Priority Jewels made with extremely thin gold threads in weave-like patterns is a machined process that you would normally only see in Italy, where jewelry-making technology is at its best. But here it is in India giving this necklace a light and fluffy texture while being durable. It’s completed by bands of white gold paved with diamonds.
I’ve written about Moksh previously, a jewelry brand owned by diamond manufacturer Tanvirkumar. The piece pictured is based on a traditional Hindu design used in architecture called Jali. It is made of lattice gold intertwined with baguettes, round brilliant cut and rose cut diamonds and completed with keshi pearls. It's another example of how traditional Indian themes could be reworked into designs with international appeal.
YS18, a jewelry brand created by Intergem Exports, combines fancy colored gems and diamonds with smooth textures and finishes. The earrings pictured blends brown, yellow and white diamond in a gradated swirling pattern.
One designer who doesn’t have to be concerned with international trends and markets is Anand Shah. As I noted previously he is celebrity jeweler in India known for his 22k gold jewels with big, bold designs based on traditional Indian themes. It is traditional wedding jewelry of the highest order with hand-craftsmanship that combines the gold with colorful enamels and gemstones. He is one of the few traditional Indian jewelers who has an international following primarily because of the exceptional designs and craftsmanship.
A spherical ring made with layers of diamonds surrounded by blue-colored gems by A’ Star Jewellery. It’s an example of the type work by this jewelry manufacturer that specializes in diamond jewelry set in 18k yellow, white and pink gold, as well as platinum. The company produces traditional and fusion styles for retailers throughout the world.
A selection of gold and enamel rings called "Rac N Stac" by Rose Group combines colorful enamel with diamonds. Traditional shapes, such as elephants are created with gold over the enamel bands. It’s another example of using traditional themes to crate contemporary jewels.
These gold earrings by Kalajee Jewellery House of Earrings display enameling, mosaic gemstones techniques.
In a previous life I was an award-winning daily newspaper reporter who moved to business and trade magazines and who now specializes in high jewelry and watches for pub
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