In India’s ‘Diamond City’, strong push for lab-grown diamonds after war in Ukraine | Latest India News

AHMEDABAD: A sharp drop in imports of rough diamonds for processing by Surat’s diamond industry after Russia invaded Ukraine led to new efforts to encourage the use of lab-grown diamonds, officials said. people familiar with the matter.

Gems and Jewelery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) regional chairman Dinesh Navadiya said demand for lab-grown diamonds has increased “but now is the perfect time to promote this industry”. Council leaders met with Union Trade Minister Piyush Goyal on May 17 to seek government support.

“The popularity of lab-grown diamonds has been boosted by a huge increase in demand in the United States in recent times…. We have demanded that special parks for the manufacture of lab-grown diamonds be promoted and included in the central government’s production-linked incentive scheme,” Navadiya said.

Lab-grown diamonds are made in a laboratory using state-of-the-art technology that mimics the process of growing natural diamonds and the result is a man-made diamond that is chemically, physically and optically the same as those found beneath the earth’s surface.

They can be created by two processes: high pressure high temperature (HPHT) which is used in China and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) which is used in the United States and India.

“Hold a meeting with lab-grown diamond manufacturers to discuss ways to promote their products in India. Lab-grown diamonds offer a huge opportunity for India to cement its position as a global diamond manufacturing hub,” Minister Goyal said in a tweet after meeting with GJEPC officials on May 17.

The diamond industry in Surat, where more than 85-90% of the world’s rough is processed, saw its imports drop by a third after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, according to people familiar with the matter.

Supplies from Alrosa, the Russian government-controlled mining company, have been cut off due to sanctions imposed by G-7 countries following the war in Ukraine. As a result, diamond polishing companies in Surat have announced summer vacations for an extended period to avoid layoffs.

The industry employs nearly 8 lakh people and is a major contributor to India’s $39 billion gemstone and jewelry exports for 2021-22, according to data from India’s Gems and Jewelery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). .

India contributes around 15% of the world’s lab-grown diamond production for which it is currently self-sufficient. Given India’s expertise in polishing diamonds, it is imperative that India also positions itself firmly in the lab-grown diamond sector as the polishing process is similar, Navadiya said.

“Lab-grown diamonds are ethically sourced, so there is no question of claiming Kimberely Process certification as 100% conflict-free diamonds. Besides the jewelry industry, lab-grown diamonds are also used in semiconductors, satellites and 5G networks. This industry is 100% export oriented and supports the Prime Minister’s mission of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India,” said Dr Snehal Patel, Promoter of Bhanderi Lab Grown Diamonds, one of the leading manufacturers of artificial diamonds in Surat.

India’s exports of lab-polished diamonds amounted to USD 274 million, USD 473 million, USD 637 million and USD 1,293 million in 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2020-21 respectively. Annual growth over the same periods was 72%, 35% and 103%, according to the GJEPC.

India exports lab-cut diamonds to the United States, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Israel and Belgium. The United States accounts for about 67% of India’s exports, followed by Hong Kong with a 14% share.

These diamonds are 70% cheaper than mined diamonds, according to GJEPC’s Navadiya.

Many small factories in Surat and towns in Saurashtra are facing rough supply shortages due to the war.

“During the summer, the industry declares holidays for its workers, but this time there will be extended holidays due to supply issues. Currently, there is about a 40% cut in supplies. At this time, lab-grown diamonds are finding their place in the market and gaining popularity,” said Mathurbhai Savani, owner of a diamond company in Surat and director of the Surat Diamond Bourse.

Sarah C. Figueiredo