Compliance, Caution, and Concern: The Current Outlook of Indian Diamantaires

SourcingApr 10, 2024

Compliance, Caution, and Concern: The Current Outlook of Indian Diamantaires

There is a willingness to comply with new government-mandated regulations, with an insistence that they should be practical and realistic.

Asian Star’s diamond manufacturing facility in India
The inside of Asian Star’s facility in India. Like other large Indian diamond manufacturers, Asian Star said it is prepared to comply with the G7’s ban on Russian diamonds but noted the tighter regulations could burden smaller players.
Mumbai—There are three new Cs that have been foremost in the minds of most Indian diamantaires over the past two months: compliance, caution, and concern. 
While the importance of each “C” varies from company to company, together they reflect the three critical issues directly impacting the Indian diamond industry. 
Currently, compliance with the new, more stringent rules governing exports of Russian diamonds of 1 carat and above to G7 countries that kicked in March 1 takes center stage.  
But caution in navigating the unpredictable global market and concern over the “one import node” mechanism, also known as the “rough node,” for certification of all non-Russian diamonds proposed to be implemented by G7 countries later in the year are also widespread. 
The industry is not taking the sanctions lightly, though goods in the 1-carat-plus sizes are estimated to account for only about 10 percent of the total volume manufactured in India, a figure that may rise to about 20 percent when the cutoff is reduced to half a carat later this year.  
Most Russian goods manufactured in India are in smaller sizes (below 0.50 carats).  

“We have been gearing up for these new rules,” Vipul Shah, chairman of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), said recently. 
GJEPC Executive Director Sabyasachi Ray explained that the council has issued an advisory to its members stating that from March 1, they should coordinate closely with buyers to ensure that all export parcels for goods of over 1 carat are accompanied by an official self-declaration as per “each country/ importer/buyer’s requirement.”  
He said the GJEPC has shared proposed formats for these declarations and set up a help desk should any member require assistance in handling compliance issues. 
Leading companies across the spectrum confirm they are adhering strictly to the new rules.  
Nilesh Kothari of Jewelex India, a top exporter, said though the major part of their business is in smaller diamonds, the company has been issuing self-declarations where applicable since 2022, backed by appropriate paper trails.  
“We will continue to do so as long as these are required,” he said.  
Rahil Shah of Asian Star, another large exporter, emphasized that the company also has always been transparent and compliant with legal requirements in buyer countries.  
Asian Star does not export significant quantities of large diamonds, he also noted.  
“Our aim is to add a layer of confidence to the purchaser,” he explained, by using self-declarations for individual stones, or in some cases “a parcel-to-parcel mechanism,” always supported by “a definite invoice trail from the point of purchase of rough.”  
Devansh Shah, a partner at Venus Jewel, noted that the company already had implemented a transparent process.  
“Through our online portal, buyers have access to detailed information regarding the selection of goods, particularly emphasizing G7 shipping eligibility. This transparency empowers buyers. Additionally, upon request, we provide necessary declarations, ensuring compliance with G7 standards where applicable.” 
He added, “To navigate the heightened restrictions effectively, we have prioritized maintaining clear visibility across our supply chain.”  

However, he also points out that the in the run-up to the March 1 changes, “the lack of clarity on various crucial details from G7 and U.S. authorities led to confusion in the trade community.” 
Many diamantaires have said that they were notified of the rules very late and there is still no clear indication how they are going to be implemented in practice.  
 Related stories will be right here …
Almost all agree that if the authorities begin verifying the paper trail for every import parcel, it will lead to disruption and delays; reports suggest this already is happening in Europe. 
This will have cost implications too, Indian diamantaires stress, adding that market conditions have already forced margins downward.  
The industry as a whole also has expressed reservations about the mechanisms being suggested for tracking origin of rough beginning Sept. 1.  
GJEPC, on behalf of Indian diamantaires, has already joined the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the World Diamond Council, and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association in pointing out that the process that has been proposed by G7—to track all rough through a “one-import node” mechanism, a system that would route all goods through Antwerp—will cause “irreparable harm to the non-Russian industry.”  
The Indian trade is hopeful that the opinions outlined by the trade in a letter to G7 officials, and reservations expressed by mining countries and various other stakeholders, will be taken note of.  
Indian diamantaires remain optimistic that the dialogue will yield results, pointing out that even the current decision to restrict sanctions to larger-sized diamonds took shape during a protracted process of interaction between G7 officials tasked with developing the system on the one hand and governments, trade bodies and individual companies that would be affected by their decisions, on the other. 
An informal consensus seems to be taking shape among Indian diamantaires that while it may be feasible to track diamonds of 0.5 carats and above, restrictions on diamonds smaller than that would likely sound the death knell for large sections of the industry.  
Manish Jiwani, a member of the GJEPC committee that looks into the interests of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which constitute some 80 percent of total manufacturing units, said, “In the case of smaller goods, it may not be feasible to track or certify origin of the stones as they go through multiple assortments at different stages.  
“And, if at all a system is evolved, the costs will be prohibitive. Any step to make sanctions applicable below 0.50 carats can have disastrous consequences.” 
Devansh Shah, of Venus Jewel, points out any increase in paperwork will have a substantial effect on artisanal miners and other small-scale participants in the supply chain, who may face increased barriers. 
Asian Star’s Rahil Shah asserts that for small players, “the costs associated with additional paperwork have to be addressed.”  
Diamantaires are now unsure what the future will bring.  
Normally, the supply of goods to the U.S. market picks up in the last quarter of the year. But, with a veil of uncertainty shrouding import-export requirements after Sept. 1, no one is quite clear on what will happen. 
“Market conditions have already made U.S. retailers more cautious about the volume of goods they need in stock. Currently restocking is at lower levels, and many are sticking to ‘just in time’ ordering,” said Kothari of Jewelex. 
The trade is hopeful that U.S. demand will pick up the second half of the year, which makes it all the more important that a practical, realistic, and equitable mechanism for implementing sanctions emerges by then. 

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