Gods own country basks in diamond glory
Nevin John / Chennai/ Thiruvananthapuram February 23, 2006
Kerala has always liked its gold. But now the dazzle of diamonds threatens to take the sheen off the yellow metal as the state is fast emerging as a major diamond market in the south.
In fact, Kochi is enjoying the second position in diamond sales next only to Hyderabad, according to a survey conducted by the Diamond Trading Corporation.
This year, industry sources said, Kerala registered over 15 per cent growth in the sale of diamonds as against the previous year. Last year, diamond sales touched Rs 400 crore in the state.
At present, Hyderabad enjoys the top position with almost 50 per cent growth in sales in 2005 as against the previous year.
Citing reasons for the spurt in sales in Hyderabad, Ramesh S Pai, director, A Geeri Pai Jewellery, said, “The Nizam jewellery exhibition boosted the sale of diamonds in the city. A lot of foreigners too, who visited Hyderabad to have a glimpse of the awesome collection of the Nizam jewellery, ended up buying diamonds in the city.”
According to an Industry analyst, “There are about 20 diamond traders in Kerala and over 50 outlets. Of the total jewellery sales, diamond jewellery contributes 25-30 per cent while the remaining is from the gold jewellery.” This year too, the state diamond market is expected to grow by 15 per cent, he added.
Meanwhile, the prices of diamonds too are witnessing an increase of 10 per cent every year due to the growing demand. “The purchasing power of the Kerala consumer is high when compared to those in other states. Today, we are getting customers who are willing to spend as much as Rs 5 lakh on diamond jewellery. Earlier, one could come across such customers only in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore,” Ramesh said.
Though this new found love for diamonds has not yet had an impact on the gold market, industry analysts feel that soon diamond jewellery would pose a threat to the gold market. “People have realised the worth of diamond jewellery. Besides, their taste and preference are changing with the time, especially those of the younger generation,” market sources said.
The diamond market in India is estimated at Rs 7,000 crore annually and is expected to cross Rs 7,500 crore next year. India has emerged as the fastest growing market in terms of consumption.
However, in terms of value, US still leads the pack with a 52 per cent market share, followed by Japan. India and the Gulf region are shoulder to shoulder in buying diamond jewellery.