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Thanks to brands like Gili, Tanishq and Gitanjali, which today sell diamonds of various sizes and at a wide range of price points, and spiralling gold prices, diamond is the new silver. India is today the world’s second largest consumer of diamonds, a position we share with China, boosted by a 25-30% growth in domestic demand.
At least 6% of the 120 million carats in rough diamonds entering the country are sold in the domestic market, three times more than before. Make no mistake, diamonds are luxury — but, today, a mass market luxury.
A Rough Cut
How did we get here? Affordable diamond jewellery is now flooding the Indian market because it is studded with smaller stones. In the ’90s you couldn’t find a stone less than one carat because few people had the skill to cut and polish smaller rough diamonds. They were abandoned as junk by the West, that focused on larger stones.
For Indian importers, it was the perfect way to capitalise on cheap labour. In the cramped bylanes of Surat and Jaipur, they developed an army of 3.5 million skilled workers who could cut and polish diamonds as small as one-hundredth of a carat. Today, 11 of every 12 diamonds sold in the world are handcrafted in India.
But the ready supply of small diamonds is only half the story. Till six years ago, only 2% of small rough diamonds imported into India were sold as jewellery in the local market because they lost out to gold.