The 2018 edition of the IIJS Signature show kicked off in Mumbai on Friday with an expanded exhibitor base — 200 new booths were added — and an upgraded machinery section. A notable feature of the show was the notable increase in the number of smaller jewellery manufacturers exhibiting, along with fewer loose stone dealers.
Manufacturers from India’s geographic southern markets, which have seen a strong showing in recent times that has seen many operating at peak capacity, said their aim at the show was to see whether any expansion in other geographic areas – which feature different consumer tastes and demand patterns -- was possible.
Show management is looking to the Indian government’s recent election-year budget which is skewed toward rural growth, to prod demand from smaller, more agriculture-dependent communities. Shailesh Sangani, Exhibitions Convener of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), which organizes the IIJS Signature show, observed, "We expect a greater spend on jewellery after the new budget and IIJS Signature should help retailers in restocking."
The Indian jewellery retail sector has experienced some uncertainty and a fade in demand due to higher gold prices driven by a 10 percent import duty on the yellow metal and a strong government push to get the hitherto largely unorganized sector, more compliant and in the tax net. Southern markets have bounced back strongly after India’s currency reform and the introduction of the Goods & Services Tax (GST), but other geographic areas are still uncertain.
Meanwhile, the GJEPC has asked the government to reduce the newly-imposed 5 percent import duty on polished diamonds and gemstones to its earlier 2.5 percent level as it also continues to seek a turnover tax regime for the diamond industry, said Chairman Pramod Agarwal.
Agarwal made these statements during his address at the show’s inauguration. He added that he would continue his predecessor’s efforts to develop industry parks for jewellery around the country along with common facility centres that would allow micro and small operators to avail of state-of-the-art technology and services in everything from jewellery design and development through manufacturing and finishing.
Chief Guest Arun Mehta, founder and guiding light of the Rosy Blue group, sounded a cautionary note, observing that though the mining and supply of diamonds had expanded in recent times, demand and sales of polished stones and diamond jewellery remained stagnant. “We need a change,” he said, advocating an aggressive global promotion campaign and adding, “if we don’t do anything, it will be the beginning of the end for the diamond industry.”