The gems and jewelry industry in India is one of the oldest and most significant sectors, contributing substantially to the country’s economy and global trade. Known for its rich heritage in jewelry craftsmanship, India has emerged as a global hub for the production, processing, and export of gems and jewelry. Read here to know more.
Recently, the Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) was inaugurated in Gujarat, marking a significant development in the diamond and jewelry industry.
The SDB is the world’s largest office complex. It aims to relocate the diamond trading hub from Mumbai to Surat, leveraging Surat’s diamond-cutting and polishing expertise.
The diamond industry in India is a significant component of the country’s gems and jewelry sector, contributing substantially to the global diamond trade. India is known for its expertise in diamond processing, cutting, and polishing, making it one of the world’s major players in the diamond industry.
History of gems and jewelry in India
India indeed boasts a centuries-old tradition of jewelry making, characterized by exquisite craftsmanship influenced by diverse cultures and regions.
Primitive men and women used flora and fauna around them and decorated themselves with seeds, flowers, feathers, and beads carved out of wood, stone, and bone. Shells, berries, wings of butterflies, and beetles were all used with great ingenuity.
With the advance of civilization, the materials changed to copper, ivory, agate, and semi-precious stones, and later to silver, gold, and diamonds.
- During the Indus Valley civilization, various ornaments like rings, head ornaments, brooches, and girdles were found, mostly they were melted or refined, molded or chiseled, designed, and cast.
- Greek and Hellenistic styles were found in the Gandhara period, archaeologists have found massive earrings, torques, and armlets incorporating bird or animal forms.
- Crest Jewel, crowns, studs, hoops, jimmikis, chains, chokers, ropes of pearls and beads, armlets, bangles, bracelets, nose rings, rings on fingers and toes, girdles and anklets were found during the golden age of India that is during the Gupta Empire.
- By the time, when the Britishers ruled we could print all kinds of jewelry designs in a catalogue.
The country’s rich and varied history has given rise to a wide array of jewelry styles, each reflecting the unique cultural and artistic expressions of different communities.
- Jewelry in India is crafted from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, precious and semi-precious gemstones, and even beads. Techniques such as enameling, filigree work, Kundan setting, and meenakari (enameling on gold) are integral to Indian jewelry making.
- Temple jewelry, characterized by intricate motifs of deities and divine symbols, has its origins in South India. It is often used for classical dance performances and is inspired by the architecture of temples.
- Kundan and Polki jewelry, known for their elaborate settings of uncut diamonds and precious gemstones, have been a traditional favorite in North India, particularly in states like Rajasthan.
- Originating in the Mughal era, Jadau jewelry involves embedding gemstones into gold using a technique known as kundan setting. It is prevalent in regions like Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- Dhokra is a traditional metal-casting technique, and Dhokra jewelry, with its rustic and tribal appeal, is crafted using this ancient art form.
- Navratna jewelry features nine gemstones representing the nine planets, each believed to have astrological significance. This style is prevalent in both North and South India.
- Filigree is a delicate metalwork technique, and states like Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are known for their intricate filigree jewelry, often crafted from silver.
Gems and Jewelry Industry
The Gems and Jewellery sector plays a significant role in the Indian economy, contributing around 6-7 percent of the country’s GDP. It also employs over 2.5 million workers.
- One of the fastest-growing sectors, it is extremely export-oriented and labor-intensive.
- Based on its potential for growth and value addition, the Government of India has declared the Gems and Jewellery sector as a focus area for export promotion.
- India is the largest player in diamond cutting and polishing and also the largest consumer of gold.
- India is deemed to be the hub of the global jewelry market because of its low costs and availability of high-skilled labor.
- India is the world’s largest cutting and polishing center for diamonds, with the cutting and polishing industry being well supported by government policies.
- Moreover, India exports 75 percent of the world’s polished diamonds, as per statistics from the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
The Government of India has viewed the sector as a thrust area for export promotion.
The Government has recently undertaken various measures to promote investments and to upgrade technology and skills to promote ‘Brand India’ in the international market.
- India’s Gems and Jewellery sector has been contributing in a big way to the country’s foreign exchange earnings (FEEs).
- The Indian government presently allows 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the sector through the automatic route.
- The Indian Government also signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2022, this will allow the Indian Gems and Jewellery industry to further boost exports.
- The Indian government accepted the recommendation of GJEPC to promote indigenous manufacturing in the emerging Lab-grown diamond sector by providing research grants to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) for five years.
- Indian Government made hallmarking mandatory for Gold Jewellery and Artefacts.
- The amendment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), notifying dealers of precious metals and stones, will maintain records of cash transactions worth Rs. 10 lakhs (US$ 13.61 thousand) or more cumulatively with a single customer.
The Gems and jewelry industry faces challenges such as fluctuating gold prices, competition from other countries, and issues related to compliance and transparency.
The expansion of major stores and brands is expected to play a major role in the growth of the gem and jewelry industry in the upcoming years. Well-known brands are steering the organized market and creating doors for expansion. Growing market share for organized players offers a wider range of goods and styles.
In the short to medium term, jewelers could anticipate seeing volume increases driven by the improvement in availability, the return of affordable gold metal loans, and the probable stability of gold prices at lower levels.
The recent improvements in the business are projected to greatly increase the demand for jewelry. By 2027, it’s anticipated that India’s jewelry and stones sector will generate $100 billion in revenue.
-Article by Swathi Satish