Reinvigorating SEEPZ, the Epicenter of India’s Studded Jewelry Exports

SourcingApr 09, 2024

Reinvigorating SEEPZ, the Epicenter of India’s Studded Jewelry Exports

The zone’s modernization will enhance and increase India’s jewelry manufacturing capabilities while aiding small and mid-sized businesses.

Bharat Ratnam, a Mega Common Facilitation Centre (CFC)
The Bharat Ratnam Mega Common Facilitation Centre is one of the main features of the revamping and modernization of jewelry manufacturing operations within the special export zone known as SEEPZ in Mumbai.
Mumbai—It is India’s single largest cluster of modern jewelry manufacturing facilities, the engine powering its studded jewelry export industry.  
It singlehandedly delivers more jewelry to the United States than most other supplier countries. And it lies in a designated export zone covering less than one square kilometer (less than half a square mile) in Mumbai North-West. 
The Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone, or SEEPZ as this area is more widely known, is being revamped with a new outlook and infrastructure to “refurbish and rejuvenate” operations, particularly those in the gem and jewelry sector.  
The most prominent symbol of SEEPZ 2.0, as it is known, is Bharat Ratnam, a Mega Common Facilitation Centre (CFC) that was inaugurated in January by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  
A senior member of Modi’s cabinet, India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal, presided over the commencement-of-operations ceremony in the middle of March, an indication of the importance attached to this project. 
The Mega CFC clearly symbolizes the new direction in which India’s studded jewelry export industry is moving. (Studded jewelry refers to jewelry that is set with diamonds and/or colored gemstones and the precious metal content is relatively low.)  
The six-floor, 115,000-square-foot complex is a one-stop center that will facilitate the upgrading of what the industry describes as the “three Ts”—technology, techniques, and training – that will be crucial to take jewelry exports to the next level.  
Three floors are dedicated to a comprehensive range of cutting-edge technical services including CAD and CAD rendering; 3D printing in metal, ceramic, resin, and wax; and casting in gold, platinum, and silver.  
Manufacturers, irrespective of size, can use these machines on a time-share basis. 

Colin Shah, a leading jewelry exporter and head of the working group that spearheaded the Bharat Ratnam project, describes it as a “360-degree service model to engage in high-level jewelry manufacturing.”  

According to Shah, “This is a pathbreaking concept for democratizing access to entrepreneurs big and small, catering to global and domestic markets.” 

It also has a modern Skill Training Center that will provide over 1,500 personnel with in-depth knowledge of the latest techniques and technology each year, about 25 percent of whom will be individuals with special needs. 
Leading exporters believe the Mega CFC will help enhance the quality, diversity, and efficiency of jewelry offerings, and enable scaling up the number of pieces for export, boosting economies of scale for the trade. 
The vision of SEEPZ 2.0 also encompasses replacing the 50-year-old buildings with new, modern structures more suited to the current technologies, and fully equipped with state-of-the-art systems. 
The New Enterprises & Services Towers, also known as NEST 01, NEST 02 and NEST 03, will consist of three six-floor towers with more than 500,000 square feet of built-out areas. They will rehouse all existing units of the gem and jewelry industry and also offer space to new entrants wishing to set up operations in SEEPZ.   
Between 2021-2023, studded jewelry exports from SEEPZ have ranged between $2.75 billion and $3 billion, figures released by India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council show, or more than 50 percent of India’s total studded jewelry exports.  
According to estimates of the SEEPZ Gem & Jewellery Manufacturers Association (SGJMA) a few years ago, SEEPZ alone enjoyed an approximately 18 percent share of total U.S. studded jewelry imports, or  about 80% of the country’s total supply to the U.S. market). 
Industry leaders aver that with the better infrastructure and technology, jewelry exports from SEEPZ can be expected to grow exponentially, possibly even reaching between $7 billion and $10 billion in a few years. 
 Related stories will be right here …

Shah, the head of the working group for the Mega CFC, answered more questions from National Jeweler about SEEPZ 2.0 and what it will mean for the future of jewelry manufacturing in India.   
National Jeweler: There are a variety of new technologies and machines available in the Mega CFC. Which of these are the most important? 
Colin Shah: Among the range of technologies, I would highlight the large 3D metal printers, which are the first of their kind to be installed anywhere in India and, linked to that, the laser color printers, as well as plating facilities in various type of metals and finishes. 
Alongside [these] are the lab facilities for testing and certifying durability, strength, and other parameters in studded jewelry.   
NJ: What new capabilities will these add to jewelry manufacturing operations in India? 
CS: With designing shifting more and more to CAD, I think the advantages of the large [3D] metal printers are quite clear, especially for the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise) units.  
Further, with plating in various colors also becoming possible, smaller manufacturers can take up orders outside their regular areas of expertise. Those doing gold, for example, can now easily take smaller orders of say palladium or titanium, which they earlier would have found difficult to handle or even had to refuse. 
As for the lab testing facility, clearly instead of sending new lines to Europe or the Far East for certification … manufacturers will now only have to reach Gate 1 on the border of the zone; so much simpler, faster, and more economical. 
NJ: What impact has the vision of SEEPZ 2.0 had on the industry? 
CS: The government plans to totally revamp SEEPZ has provided a huge boost to the industry. There is a new vibrancy, and the public-private partnership has worked so well that we got the Mega CFC up and running within 14 months after the start of the project.  
Moreover, the construction of NEST 01 and 02 as well as NEST 03, which is in the pipeline, opens new possibilities for smaller units that were facing constraints due to aging infrastructure. The number of units in SEEPZ is likely to go up by the time all three become operational in about a year from now. 
With manufacturing units outside the zone also being given access to the Bharat Ratnam facilities, many units there can also take up exports using the e-commerce and postal/courier dispatch mode for smaller orders as well. 

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