As someone who has only recently started and is trying to make her mark on the gem and jewellery industry, I have realised that this field can be as much of a rat race as anything else. Following trends, developing designs that are relevant and monitoring price-points — all these are characteristic parts of the process of mass producing commercial jewellery.
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The diamond industry has for decades, done business with a truly international pipeline — diamonds are mined in some continents, sorted and distributed through centres elsewhere, cut and polished in yet other places, set into jewellery in centres that could be in a fourth geographic location and finally consumed in bulk in places like the US, Japan and China — the first two having had nothing to do with the process pipeline whatsoever.
In world unsettled by political and economic upheavals, with looming trade wars and protectionist rhetoric, the one key factor necessary for the gem and jewellery industry, that is international by its very nature, to maintain its equilibrium and power forward successfully, is confidence.
Brace yourselves. The massive financial fraud (so far they’ve unearthed $1.8 billion but it looks like there’s more to come) involving Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi looks like snowballing into something much bigger — a knockout punch for the industry as far as consumer confidence is concerned.
It was December 2008 and I was having lunch with Mark Boston and his wife Milly at the Four Seasons hotel in Mumbai. Mark and Milly had moved there after the terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal hotel, where they usually stayed.
The diamond cutting and polishing industry remained pretty much unchanged for centuries, then went through a revolution in the 1990s. That was when technology took much of the human skill out of the process.
It began as a simply upgrading of the way things had been done thus far. Starting with automatic polishing, laser kerfing and sawing as well as automatic bruting.
When was the last time you went shopping just to buy something? Whereas in the past, shopping was about necessity, today it is a lifestyle activity inextricably linked to entertainment and socialising. Groups of teenagers bustling around your local town centre may not have the disposable income to buy the latest shoes in the window, but they will contribute by spending their cash in an on-trend juice bar or café.
There can be no better evidence that the Kimberley Process (KP) is not BS than the debate it stirs up.