With heightened geopolitical tensions around the globe ever since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, trade routes and commerce have been badly hit. Sanctions have meant a slow-down of production. This is especially true in the case of diamonds, given that Russia provides the highest volume of the mined uncut stone for further polishing.
Bearing the inadvertent effects of the slowdown are the many laborers employed at diamond cutting and polishing units in Surat. However, in a bid to keep business afloat, what started as an experiment had met with huge success. Surat’s lab-grown diamonds (LGD) are in great demand and with V-Day just round the corner, heart-shaped solitaires have set the commerce wheels spinning again.
Explaining the trend, Babu Vaghani, president LGD Association shared: “The demand has doubled as compared to the previous year. LGDs are affordable and yet precious. For instance, a heart-shaped natural diamond would cost anywhere between $8,000 to $15,000 (Rs 6.5 lakhs to Rs 8.25 lakhs. Plus, there is always wastage when cutting natural stone into desired shapes and this in turn, pushes up the costs manifolds. However, LGDs can be bought for under $1,000 ( Rs 82,500).”
Solitaire pieces feature in top-of-the-line LGD products. The biggest market currently is the US, where inflation has led buyers of natural diamond to seek ownership joys in LGDs instead.
So, what exactly are LGDs? Explains Dinesh Navadiya, chairman, Indian Diamond Institute: “LGDs are grown using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) and High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) technologies. On the other hand, CVD is used exclusively for growing solitaires. A lot of investment goes into the machinery and unit to foster CVDs. In fact, this year we have touched production of 5 lakh carats of CVDs, almost double from the previous year’s 2.5 lakh carats.”
Heart-shaped pieces have flooded most of Surat’s diamond showrooms and spilled over to the many retail counters across Gujarat. While the US definitely emerges a clear-cut market, seems it will not be long before Surat is firmly back as the diamond in the crown of stone markets around the globe.