“POSITIVE OUTLOOK from the Exporters and the Trade COUNCILS INDICATE Pushing India’s Exports to Even Further Heights”
Europe’s leading authority in diamond grading since 1973, HRD Antwerp draws on 570 years of experience and lineage passed down through Antwerp’s diamond trade. Headquartered in the world’s leading diamond trading centre, Antwerp, Belgium, the HRD in its name stands for Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD) which literally translates to ‘Diamond High Council’. Ravi Chhabria, Managing Director, HRD Antwerp – India, in conversation with FLOROSCENT, sheds light on some of the recent developments and innovations at HRD, the company’s prospects in India and more.
Where all are HRD Antwerp’s lab services located across the world? And which markets are on your growth radar?
The group has offices across Europe, Middle East, India, China and Hong Kong. All the above markets are under our ongoing growth radar and various plans are in progress. We are looking to expand further in Russia as well as South East Asian countries.
Currently we offer our complete range of services in India that includes Diamond and Jewels Grading, Equipment Sales as well as Education Courses. We have offices in Surat, Mumbai (within SEEPZ and Bharat Diamond Bourse) and also a full-fledged lab strategically located in close proximity to the Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai.
In terms of technology, how advanced is HRD Antwerp by today’s standards? How often is technology updated at HRD Antwerp to meet the industry’s requirements?
One of our pioneering equipment tools for grading is our popular microscope – the D Scope. It is a very well-regarded tool in the industry which is also preferred by many in the industry. We have recently launched a new version of the microscope, called the ‘D-Scope+’.
We also have a range of equipment for analysing natural versus synthetic diamonds. Our globally recognised equipment the ‘M-Screen+’, is a superfast automated melee screening device which automatically feeds, screens and sorts round brilliant diamonds at a super speed of minimum 3 diamonds per second or 80 to 100 carats per hour. Depending on the size of the stones and the size of the batch, the speed can be as high as a staggering 15,000 diamonds per hour. This provides a super-fast screening solution, enabling traders and manufactures alike, to screen large melee parcels.
Our equipment range is constantly being evolved and adapted to new technically advanced industry requirements.
Please outline the educational courses being offered at HRD Antwerp in India? What are the latest developments in the curriculum?
We offer a number of education courses in India both for individuals as well as for corporate customers (retailers, factories, traders). All our courses are practical oriented, provide individual access to latest equipment and can be customised as per specific client requirements.
HRD Antwerp has recently announced opening its laboratory in Moscow? How do you look at HRD Antwerp’s engagement with the Russian Federation?
We recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation under which a HRD Antwerp diamond grading laboratory would be established in Moscow. Russia is known as the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds and our presence in this market would add value when it comes to certification, grading and transparency in the value chain. The signing of this landmark MoU is an important step that will further enhance confidence in the diamond and jewellery market in Russia and worldwide.
Can you shed some light on HRD Antwerp’s latest diamond detection equipment the ‘D-Tect’ and how it works? In what ways, is this device different from the existing detection machines available in the market?
The D-Tect is a non-automated, compact table-top diamond detection device based on UV luminescence imaging and photoluminescence spectroscopy for mounted or loose diamonds (D-to-Z) of all sizes and shapes.
This equipment offers the facility of further testing of referred stones after being screened by any screening device, thereby bringing this technology to the benefit of multiple users. It delivers a definitive evaluation concerning the nature of stones, whether natural, laboratory grown diamonds or simulants.
What is your opinion on De Beers’ decision to introduce lab-grown diamond jewellery (Lightbox Jewelry)? Will it help in further segregating the natural diamonds from synthetics?
The threat of undisclosed mixing of synthetic with natural diamonds damages consumer confidence in the business. We would not like to comment on any specific companies’ business strategy or new products being launched.
In our lab, we do offer Laboratory Grown Diamond Grading Reports, but for disclosed laboratory grown diamonds only. Undisclosed synthetic diamonds are never graded by us.
The diamond industry has been one of the first to embrace the Blockchain technology wholeheartedly. According to you, what attribute/s of the Blockchain technology is/are helpful for the diamond industry? Is HRD Antwerp planning to adopt/invest in the Blockchain technology?
As global trade moves to the next level, technology will surely play an important role in shaping the way business is conducted and this stands true for the diamond trade also. We understand that the global diamond fraternity has started exploring Blockchain technology which by now has become the next big thing. Trade sources indicate that Blockchain can contribute to improve the transparency and the authenticity of the diamonds traded globally. With proper understanding and legitimation this technology may change the future trade altogether.
What do you think about generic and private-brand marketing to promote diamonds?
Advertising in general for the industry is beneficial as it educates, informs and brings new clients to the table. Both generic and private brands eventually lead to increase in demand for diamonds and jewels and improved consumer confidence.
What is your forecast for the development of the global diamond industry in 2018?
Today, the gem and jewellery industry is one of the leading sectors, contributing nearly 7 per cent of India’s total GDP and with new initiatives being announced by the government and tie-ups with global fraternity. Positive outlook from the exporters and the trade councils indicate pushing India’s exports to even further heights.
We are overall bullish and hence already see an increase in demand for our services. To reassure a consumer’s faith in their products, jewellers sell certified diamonds which are often sold loose or mounted in jewellery. An independent international grading laboratory such as HRD Antwerp aids in providing an unbiased grade for the diamonds that are certified.
What are the HRD Antwerp’s nearest plans?
Our aim is to exponentially grow the activity of HRD Antwerp India. We also notice a growing amount of new customers specifically searching for high quality and consistency with quick turnaround times. In the next five years we want to be an even more significant player in the market.
“Today, the gem and jewellery industry is one of the leading sectors, contributing nearly 7 per cent of India’s total GDP and with new initiatives being announced by the government and tie-ups with global fraternity. Positive outlook from the exporters and the trade councils indicate pushing India’s exports to even further heights.
As global trade moves to the next level, technology will surely play an important role in shaping the way business is conducted and this stands true for the diamond trade also. We understand that the global diamond fraternity has started exploring Blockchain technology which by now has become the next big thing.”- Ravi Chhabria, MD, HRD Antwerp- India