In its latest newsletter, Kiran Gems’ Director Dinesh Lakhani has outlined his views on diamond mining, discussed the structural changes in the diamond industry post-COVID-19 lockdown, consumer demand, and sentiments in major diamond markets worldwide, and how the Indian diamond industry is faring.
Greetings, Namaste, Ni Hao & Shalom from KIRAN desk…!
Since our first newsletter in May 2020, we’ve had a tremendous response from our customers and industry as a whole and we thank each and every one of you wholeheartedly and wish you and your loved ones a healthy 2021.
We have consistently seen growth in terms of demand and sales of loose diamonds across all segments and sizes. Rough to Retail pipeline is healthier than ever and a continued or even higher growth is envisaged post 1st quarter of ’21.
MINING ACTIVITY: STEADY & SUPPORTIVE
Miners have so far played a very important and pivotal role in keeping the Rough pipeline extremely healthy by not mining any extra goods. This in turn has helped keep Rough prices steady and at a healthy premium in most sizes. Major miners have reported high single-digit growth in sales volume as well as in prices at the beginning of 2021, which gives the entire industry a positive direction and trajectory going forward. We anticipate mining activity to be efficiently coordinated with the end demand going ahead as well.
MAJOR STRUCTURAL CHANGES: HERE TO STAY
Post COVID-19 induced lockdown, a significant shift has been witnessed in the entire diamond sector, whereby market participants across all categories – organised players being at the forefront – have adapted to a new and more efficient model of doing business. Midstream inventories are leaner and better aligned to consumer demand. Similarly, traditional methods of procuring raw materials and marketing of finished jewellery have changed drastically to align with a tectonic shift to a much more dynamic approach. It is clearly evident that deeper and more engaging coordination and partnership – between upstream, midstream, and downstream players – has been instrumental in bringing about this positive change.
Peripheral expenses of travel along with jewellery shows and other marketing expenses have almost become nil, saving both time and money. This has catalyzed the industry into efficiently using more technologically advanced methods, in terms of attaining both interactive and transactional objectives by leveraging digital platforms.
As we witness the structural shifts, the role of physical distance as a factor in doing business is gradually receding in obscurity. Trust, understanding, coordination, and partnership between the diamond manufacturer, jewellery manufacturers, and retailers have taken a central role. Traditional methods would involve travelling and spending a significant amount of time in procuring diamonds from major hubs such as Mumbai, Surat, Hong Kong, Antwerp, and Dubai. This has given way to the newly evolved tech-enabled interactions wherein more and more downstream players are ordering inventories online from major diamond manufacturers, thus creating deeper two-way engagement with reliable partners who have stricter assortment standards along with a wide array of quality, size, and shapes.
It is clearly evident that the abovementioned changes catalyzed by the unique demands of businesses post COVID-19 are here to stay, as there is no turning back to the old ways of business which were largely unorganized. The proliferation of technology-driven methods is only going to increase and would provide us with incremental ways to enhance and deepen the partnerships. We at KIRAN, have been at the forefront of this change and look forward to bringing more such tech-enabled solutions in the near future.
Major diamond-consuming countries like the US, China, India, and Japan have seen a great response from their respective governments in form of economic stimulus, this, in turn, has boosted the consumer confidence and sentiment towards the luxury sector in general and diamond-studded jewellery in particular. We also witnessed diamond jewellery gaining wallet share as other spends like vacations, large gatherings for weddings and occasions etc. were curtailed. Fact that around 20 per cent growth of net export of polished diamonds from India was witnessed in the last quarter of 2020 as compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019, simply demonstrates robust underlying demand growth.
As mentioned above, while our earlier forecast of robust consumer demand and diamond jewellery gaining wallet share – as communicated in the May 2020 Newsletter – has panned out, going ahead we clearly see this underlying demand trend to be a sustainable one and not a fleeting phenomenon. While the initial kick start was provided by the monetary stimulus boost across nations, the long-term demand-creating fundamentals have gained momentum with a general rise in disposable incomes and an overall increase in discretionary spending – as economic recovery takes hold globally. This would provide an incremental and sustainable long-term demand esp. as this trend gets manifested across large populations in key emerging markets.
Diamond jewellery as the epitome of sentimental and personal possession is also gaining incremental interest from global designing trends, this in part is also aided by a recent run-up in gold prices. More diamond-centric designs are being adapted to cater to jewellery demand across all categories to balance the cost while enhancing the appeal.
INDIA MANUFACTURING: SHINING BRIGHT
In these testing times as businesses across the globe were severely impacted in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian diamonds and gems & jewellery sector has stood out. On multiple attributes, this year’s achievement has already come close to the last year on a YoY basis. This is remarkable, as to be able to match a full year’s business in only eight months of a pandemic hit year required utmost resilience and tenacity.
Being a global leader, Indian diamond manufacturing is a proven success story and provides inspiration as India is embarking upon an ambitious roadmap of manufacturing-led sustainable growth and specific outlays like PLI (Production Linked Incentive) Schemes are being put in place.
The sector being a large-scale employment provider is well placed and keen to leverage its highly skilled manpower and specialised manufacturing skillset to deliver upon the objectives of inclusive, sustainable, and technology-driven growth in manufacturing.
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