The revolution underway in India's diamond industry

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Chintan SuhagiyaImage source, Chintan Suhagiya

Image caption,

Chintan Suhagiya inspecting a lab-grown diamond

By Priti Gupta successful Mumbai & Ben Morris successful London

Business reporters

Chintan Suhagiya is lone 26, but already has 7 years acquisition moving successful India's diamond industry.

Starting out, helium ferried diamonds astir his company, based successful the world's diamond polishing capital, Surat successful occidental India.

But implicit the years helium learnt however to inspect diamonds and present helium grades their quality, utilizing specializer equipment.

His vocation has been transformed by a seismic displacement successful the diamond industry. Until 2 years ago, each the diamonds helium inspected were earthy - pulled from the crushed astatine diamond mines.

Now helium works with diamonds grown successful peculiar machines, portion of the manufacture that hardly existed 10 years agone but, acknowledgment to improved technology, has seen explosive growth.

Lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) truthful intimately lucifer earthy diamonds that adjacent experts person to look closely.

"No bare oculus tin archer the quality betwixt earthy and lab-grown diamonds," says Mr Suhagiya.

"The earthy diamonds and lab-grown diamonds are truthful akin that once, adjacent aft a laboratory trial determination was a disorder astir the root of a diamond. The diamond had to beryllium tested doubly to marque definite that it was a lab-grown," helium says.

Natural diamonds are formed astatine large vigor and unit heavy underground and, since the 1950s, scientists person been trying to recreate that process supra crushed - resulting successful 2 techniques.

Image source, Bandari Lab Diamonds

Image caption,

Another caller batch - unsmooth laboratory diamonds earlier they are chopped and polished

The High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) strategy is wherever a diamond effect is surrounded by axenic graphite (a benignant of carbon) and exposed to temperatures of astir 1,500C and pressurised to astir 1.5 cardinal pounds per quadrate inch successful a chamber.

The 2nd process is called Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and involves putting the effect successful a sealed enclosure filled with carbon-rich state and heating to astir 800C. The state sticks to the seed, gathering up a diamond atom by atom.

While those techniques emerged successful the precocious 20th Century, it's lone successful the past 10 years that the process has been refined truthful that lab-grown diamonds tin beryllium made astatine the close terms and prime to beryllium sold arsenic jewellery.

"In the beginning, it was harder, due to the fact that determination were precise fewer machines and precise fewer scientists capable to bash it... implicit the past 7 years, arsenic much expertise became disposable successful the market, we've seen truly large growth," says Olya Linde, a Zurich-based spouse with Bain and Company's Natural Resources practice.

Ms Linde says that since the aboriginal 2000s the outgo of producing lab-grown diamonds has halved each 4 years.

These days, a 1 carat diamond - a fashionable size and communal successful engagement rings - made successful a laboratory would beryllium astir 20% cheaper than its naturally-formed equivalent.

Those falling costs person attracted entrepreneurs.

Snehal Dungarni is the main enforcement of Bhanderi Lab Grown Diamonds, which helium started successful 2013. It uses the CVD process to marque diamonds.

"We are capable to show the maturation of the diamond, atom by atom, astatine the highest grade of purity.

"Comparatively they are outgo and time-effective and prevention mining and extraction costs - making them quality and environmentally kind," helium says.

India has agelong played a cardinal relation successful the diamond manufacture - it's estimated that 9 retired of 10 of the world's diamonds are polished successful Surat.

Now the authorities wants India to go a cardinal subordinate successful the lab-grown diamond business.

Image source, Bandari Lab Diamonds

Image caption,

The lab-grown diamond concern has prospered implicit the past 10 years

The federation already produces astir 3 cardinal lab-grown diamonds a year, accounting for 15% of planetary production, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. China is the different large producer, with a akin marketplace share.

In January, successful an effort to boost the assemblage further, the Indian authorities abolished a 5% taxation connected imported diamond seeds and announced backing to assistance India make its ain diamond effect production.

"As planetary prosperity increases, the request for diamonds volition increase," says Vipul Bansal, associated caput astatine the Ministry of Commerce.

With 30 years successful the accepted diamond industry, Hari Krishna Exports is India's starring shaper of chopped and polished diamonds.

But this twelvemonth manager Ghanshyambhai Dholakia founded a lab-grown diamond business.

"In the adjacent 3 to 4 years, we volition spot a monolithic request and maturation successful lab-made diamonds," helium predicts.

But volition the caller concern instrumentality marketplace stock from his accepted diamond business?

"Both earthy and lab-made diamonds cater to antithetic user segments. And request exists successful some segments," says Mr Dholakia.

"LGD has opened a caller user marketplace - mediate people successful India - who person wealth and volition beryllium capable to spend a lab-grown diamond," helium says.

It mightiness instrumentality immoderate clip for that marketplace to instrumentality disconnected successful India, though. Most LGDs made successful India are exported to the US.

"The Indian marketplace is inactive not ready, truthful we arsenic assembly are promoting exhibitions and events to make a spot for LGDs. In 3 to 4 years India volition beryllium ready," says Shashikant Dalichand Shah, president of the Lab Grown Diamond and Jewellery Promotion Council.

Image source, Dholakia Diamonds

Image caption,

Lab-grown diamonds person opened up a full caller marketplace for the gems

Mr Shah is president of Nine Diam, a diamond trading institution founded by his large grandfather.

He agrees that manufactured diamonds volition person a precise antithetic spot successful the marketplace from those that person been mined.

"A diamond made successful a laboratory oregon a mill is an artificial diamond. So a purchaser who knows and loves diamonds volition ever spell for a existent diamond," helium says.

He adds that the comparative scarcity of earthy diamonds means they volition clasp their worth better.

"Lab-grown diamonds suffer their worth aft buying, whereas successful a earthy diamond 50% of the worth is retained aft buying," helium says.

While that whitethorn beryllium the case, lab-grown diamonds connection jewellery designers greater flexibility.

"Natural diamonds are truthful costly you ever privation to maximise the diamond from the earthy stone. Lab-grown diamonds you tin plan arsenic you want," says Ms Linde.

"We've seen jewellery wherever they person chopped holes successful the diamonds truthful they dangle and sparkle more."

The world's biggest jeweller, Denmark's Pandora, is switching to lab-grown diamonds. Explaining the determination successful 2021, the company's main executive said it would broaden the marketplace for diamonds and marque his concern much environmentally friendly.

Back successful Surat, Chintan Suhagiya is blessed with his determination into the LGD industry, and thinks galore others volition find enactment successful the sector.

"The lab-diamond manufacture is going to supply jobs to millions. This volition beryllium an unstoppable industry," helium says.

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