GJEPC India Gold & Jewellery Summit: Focuses on all the Important Issues Plaguing the Industry
With an interesting mix of industry and non-industry experts, the first day of the summit definitely proved to be a learning platform for industry personnel says Vijetha Rangabashyam.
The India Gold & Jewellery Summit kicked off with an optimistic note yesterday, at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. The entire industry and dignitaries from Turkey, China and other countries came together to discuss about the most pertinent issues that are currently plaguing the industry.
“Our skills have to be improved. We are totally satisfied with just catering to the domestic market. We need to have strong designing capabilities otherwise we won’t be able to do justice to the markets of the US and Europe. We also have to set up a standard for gold refineries. They need to be of international standards. Currently, India is importing more than it exports and we need an exclusive authority that monitors what is being imported from where. We need to reduce the duty to 4-5% to generate more employment and prevent smuggling. We are at 6-7 billion $ now. We need to aim at $ 20 billion,’ said Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman, GJEPC.
The Chief Guest, Honorable Minister of Commerce & Industry, Suresh Prabhu, stressed on the importance of handmade jewellery and focusing on building a platform between the goldsmith and a larger Jewellery entity. ‘We need to create a gold board and to create something like that we need comprehensive policies. We need to have quantifiable targets. We have goldsmiths in every nook and corner of our country and we need to make use of this large human resource we have. We should use them to supply handmade jewellery to the entire world because that’s where the demand lies. For this, we need to focus on how we can link the common goldsmith from a village to an institutional mechanism. Our GDP growth in the last quarter looks very encouraging. And we need more and more economic activity to grow further and the gold and jewellery sector will play a major role in this. I will see to it that I work with you to achieve this.’
The first session, Vision 2022: Indian Jewellery Exports at $ 25 billion had eminent panelists from the industry: PN Prasad, CGM, SBI, Mehul Choksi, Chairman & MD, Gitanjali Group, Bobby Kothari from Jewelex, Chandu Siroya, Vice Chairman, Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group, Ms. Rona O’ Connell, Thomson & Reuters, Mr. Sailesh Sangani, Convenor, GJEPC, and Mr. Suni Kashyap, MD, Scotia Mocatta. The session was moderated by Mr. Manoj Dwivedi. “This industry has the potential to generate more employment and also contribute to the GDP of the country in a big way,” said Mr. Dwivedi.
‘I feel that this industry has a lot of potential for growth. But the industry is facing a lot of financial and operational issues at the moment. We need financial incentives from the government and also address operational issue such as non availability of duty-free gold,” said Balram Garg. Stressing on the importance of transparency and best practices, Rita Teotia, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, said, ‘We need to focus on flagship events. I find that reverse buyer seller meets are very productive. The setting of SEEPZ has been very effective and in the same way we need to look at setting up Jewellery parks that cater to both domestic and international needs. We need to nurture design schools in various pockets and stress on quality certification. More importantly, transparency and credibility is very important especially for this sector to grow.’
PN Prasad gave his two cents on the financial aspect of the industry, saying, ‘GST has thrown out so much systematic data about company turnovers etc. and this will help and make it easier for financing the industry.’ Mehul Choksi said that gold jewellery will still hold a special place in the hearts of the millenials even though there is disruption from other quarters. ‘We should focus on $50 billion profit rather than exports at $25 billion. We have mastered manufacturing but we have not added value in our products. We should make Jewellery that is economical to get a bigger chunk of the market share and tie up with experts like Italians. We need to study the market thoroughly,’ he said. Bobby Kothari stressed on the need for a common facility centre were technology and the craft of jewellery can come together. ‘We need to focus on 3Cs common facility center, collaboration and compliance. CFC which focuses on machinery, expertise, soft skills, management etc and the skill has to be collaborated with state of the art IT. Trends keep changing with Jewellery, so we need to keep in touch with the market. Look at using alternative materials. It is the value addition that matters not the value and we need to give the consumer what he wants rather than what we want to produce.’ Chandu Siroya said, ‘In 1976 Dubai had 6 Jewellery shops. In 49 years, it is the largest trading hub of gold. India in spite of being a manufacturer is not supplying to international countries. This is because of lack of ease of business. We are best in manufacturing but we are selling Jewellery for half the price and we need to address this. Lastly, our advertising should focus on modern Jewellery because that’s the only way we’ll get international audience.’
The second session ‘Value Addition Through Jewellery Manufacturing’ had Usha Balakrishnan, Jewellery Historian, Suvankar Sen, Executive Director, Senco Gold & Diamond, Kapil Hetamsaria, CEO, Velvetcase.com, Sandeep Kulhalli, Sr. VP, Retail & Marketing Tanishq, Noray Isler, Chairman of Istanbul Chamber of Jewellery, Shimul Vyas, Principal Faculty, NID and K Srinivasan, Convener, Jewellery Panel Committee, GJEPC. Speaking on design being a very important part of the value chain, Shimul Vyas said, ‘The industry should take design very seriously and make it a part of the value chain. When we design, we need to understand the consumer’s mindset. Design is not about the value, it enhances the perceived value of the product. Sandeep Kulhalli insisted that Tanishq has been a cut above the rest because of its involvement in the entire value chain. ‘At Tanishq we try to sell Jewellery as an adornment rather than investment. From understanding the consumer to design and retailing, we control the entire value chain and that’s why we are different.’
Suvarkar Sen, spoke of Kolkata being the heartland of craftsmanship. ‘Thanks to our geographical location, we have the advantage to create handcrafted Jewellery in mass volumes. If you look at all the top retailers, they do great market research and understand what the consumer needs in terms of design. And we need to give knowledge to consumers about the efforts we take to create a product. We need to tell them the story behind our product.’ Speaking of what we can learn from Turkey industry, Noray Isler, said ‘You need to really help your manufacturers. Without manufacturers there is no industry. Right now India designs for its country, but to cater to the international market, you will have to look at designing Jewellery that is appealing to a larger audience.’
Usha Balakrishnan from a historical perspective spoke of the timeless value of Indian antique jewellery and craftsmanship. ‘The world loves India. Sadly, the handcrafted heritage of Indian Jewellery is promoted everywhere else outside India. We don’t do the kind of documentation that the West does when it comes to our own brands. Earlier karigars were designers but now design is a separate function and it is the crux and it is in the handcrafted label that India should position itself,’ she said. Kapil Hetamsaria spoke about how technology is important to enhance a product in today’s time and date. ‘We have all this talent embedded in the country and at Velvetcase we are trying to promote this talent. We are an intersection of Jewellery and technology. Design and price are not correlated and I think every brand should understand this and try and see how jewellery can be of a perceived value to a consumer.’
The day came to end with yet another important session ‘Code of Conduct & Standards for Industry,’ moderated by Rajesh Khosla from MMTC PAMP. The panel included Ms. Shakila Mirza, LBMA’s General Counsel and Executive Board Member, Mr. Venkateswaran, Director, NABL, Mr.David Bouffard, Signet Vice President, Mr. Tyler Gillard, Sector Projects, Responsible Business Conduct Unit, Investment Division at OECD, Mr. Surendra Mehta, National Secretary of India Bullion & Jewellers Association, Mr. Shivanshu Mehta, MCX, Mr. James Jose, MD, CGR Metalloys, Mr. Ajay Mathur, Director, Precious Metals and Mr. Avinash Gupta, Director, GJF.
The second day of the Summit will take place Hotel Ashok and will focus on Gold Policy, Gold Spot Exchange for India and a Presentation of PMLA.