Rising Gem Certification Demand, is Jaipur ready?
Jaipur is the main centre for coloured gemstones. From the cutting and polishing of precious and semi-precious stones to manufacturing colourstone jewellery, the city is fully equipped with state-of-the-art workshops. With that, there arose a need for gemstone laboratories and high-level education. But when it comes to certification, even for a crucial mining test, the traders here have to send the stones abroad due to inadequate certification infrastructure. This is not only a time-consuming process but also an expensive affair for traders. Floroscent brought up this issue with a cross section of industry experts who not only acknowledged the insufficient certification infrastructure in Jaipur but also offered solutions.
Colourstones have been an integral part of Jaipur’s gem and jewellery industry for centuries and have been sold solely on trust and experience. But with the turn of millennium, the certification for a few precious stones arrived. Now when Jaipur’s gem industry exports cut and polished colourstones to the tune of Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 5,000 crore to various international markets each year and companies such as Gem Testing Laboratory (GTL) and industry bodies like the Jewellers Association Show (JAS) and the Jaipur Jewellery Show (JJS) are imparting education about colourstones, colourstone certification has become indispensable.
According to Rajiv Jain, former chairman, Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) and secretary, Jaipur Jewellery Show (JJS), while Jaipur’s gems and jewellery trade continues to grow, product quality and certification issues need to be addressed and awareness about the same should be generated at the consumer level as well. “Today, we have only one world-class lab in Jaipur that is GTL. There is a need to build more such world-class labs in Jaipur. It is not only the industry that needs to be catered to but also consumers, as there are lots of treatments in gemstones today. There is nothing wrong in treatment, as most of the stones are treated. But such products should be sold after full disclosure and for that, one needs a certification report about which even consumers are not aware of. The more awareness we create amongst consumers about the certification, the more would be consumer confidence thereby boosting demand,” he explained.
He also went on to inform that there are other private labs also operating from Jaipur but the only industry supported lab for colourstones in Jaipur is GTL. “GTL is the only lab which we can vouch for, as it does not compromise on any level. Today, more and more people want to get their stones tested. We are also setting up one more counter at the IIGJ Sitapura, where the industry present in Sitapura can meet the demand of testing and certification. Unlike the diamond industry which is a huge industry and a lot of money is involved, in the colour gemstones industry, except for rubies, emeralds, sapphires, tanzanite, etc., all other stones are very cheap and there is no organised body for that. The ICA is the only body and that is the motive behind bringing them to Jaipur this time and discussing all these issues,” he added.
Today, GTL is the only lab in Jaipur that is well-versed in the testing technologies and regulations of advanced countries.
Kamal Kothari, director, Super Gems and Jewels, said that GTL is providing the certificates for the gemstone industry in Jaipur and amongst the local business and traders here, the certificates granted by the Lab is considered as a mark of authenticity. “Take the products passed by GTL to any other international lab, the results are going to be the same. Its creditability is very high. Moreover, to match the demand of the local industry, GTL performs tests at competitive prices. As far as the acceptability of GTL’s certification is concerned, many people who are dealing with Jaipur’s gemstone industry have faith in the certification provided by GTL. But since GTL functions within Jaipur and that people from different cities and countries have little knowledge about it, sometimes the need to have a different certificate arises,” he shared.
Loss to traders
Gem dealers in the city informed that sending coloured gemstones overseas for certification incurs costs and business delays.
Keshav Godika, a gemstone industry veteran and founder of KG Gems Jaipur said that “One of our biggest problems in gemstone certification is that we are not getting the mining test done in Jaipur. A gemstone’s origin is a very important factor, as all the physical and chemical qualities of any stone are associated with it and accordingly, the prices are determined. We have to send our stones to Bangkok or Hong Kong to find out the origin of the stones and that takes a lot of time. Sometimes we waste three to four months in getting the certification and thus, lose out on the buyers. Inspite of Jaipur being the biggest hub for colour gemstones, this crucial test is not available in the city,” he pointed out.
Nirmal Kumar Bardiya, president, Jewellers Association Jaipur, too agreed that colourstone certification infrastructure needs attention in Jaipur. “Being the hub of gemstones in the country, there is an immediate need to build infrastructure for gemstone certification in Jaipur. More and more international certification labs should come here. Today, a lot of traders are sending their goods to Hong Kong and other markets for international certification. It takes a lot of time and money. Hence, it is high time we not only set up international labs in Jaipur but also promote GTL in the international market,” he urged.
Ankur Shah, director, Ansh Jewels, seconded that that sending stones abroad for certification is a costly affair. “The local certification costs around Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,000. The international certification costs around Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 10,000. It is almost 10 times more than what we are paying in Jaipur. Today, if a trader in Jaipur wants to sell the goods in Asian markets, he has to send the goods to Bangkok or Hong Kong to procure a certificate from renowned international labs there and only after that, he can do the marketing. The whole process takes more than a month. The customer will not buy without a certificate,” he informed.
Increasing demand for testing services
In a bid to meet the mandatory requirements for product quality and voluntary standards as part of their marketing strategies, a number of enterprises in Jaipur have sought out international certification that provides a guarantee of their product quality and authenticity.
Manas Kala, director, Sara Jewels Jaipur, said that it is extremely difficult now-a-days to find a genuine gem certification lab in Jaipur with a reputation and a name in the field of gem certification internationally. “We need bigger labs like Gubelin Gemmological Laboratory and other international labs to come in the city for international certification. It will be good for the trade to have better labs in Jaipur, as transparency and certification is always important. At present, we are losing a lot of time and money in sending out stones to Hong Kong and Europe. By having internationally renowned labs in Jaipur, the testing will not only be faster but also inexpensive and thus, jewellers would be more inclined to get their stones certified,” he suggested.
Devendra Kumar Maloo, director, Kaushal Gems, rued that important stones require certifications from different international gemology laboratories such as the Gubelin Gemmological Laboratory and Gemresearch Swisslab (GRS), as Jaipur lacks proper infrastructure for colourstone certification. “The demand for colourstone jewellery is rising at a rapid pace. The consumer awareness is also increasing and hence, there is a need for globally recognised certification services in Jaipur. The traders can begin trading online using these certificates and also, negotiate the price with overseas buyers. Today, we are sending our goods to Bangkok and Hong Kong and it requires a lot of efforts and money. The international labs should open collection centres in Jaipur,” he recommended.
Rajesh Dhamani, director, National Facets, too acknowledged the immediate need to build the certification infrastructure in Jaipur. “There are many local labs operating in Jaipur. These labs give instant certification but their authentication is not fully admissible, as they do not have high-quality testing machineries. The problem in Jaipur is that people want to certify their stones at a low price. But if we have to maintain the quality of certification, then we need international labs in the city. The challenge now is to use colourstones wisely, with a legitimate certificate, in order to preserve the rarity and quality of the stone. The certification should be nothing but the true expression of the identity of a brand,” he emphasised.
Public concern about quality
As more people have access to information about colourstones, new opportunities have opened to the colourstone industry in Jaipur. Trade pundits noted that greater awareness about certificates has complemented the trend amongst the younger generation.
Vipul Baid, director, Fine Colour Gems, opined that greater transparency through certification in the coloured gemstones trade will help in restoring the market confidence. “Right now, there’s less transparency and knowledge about gemstones, especially amongst end-consumers. Moreover, the gemstone and jewellery trade is one of the few industries where quality assurance is provided by a third party and not the seller. So, while consumers may know and trust their jeweller, they want to see brands in the store and the certificate provides just that. A lot of retailers see great advantage in having a stone certified by international labs. So, there’s an opportunity there that we aren’t going to ignore,” he assured.
Today, consumers are more concerned about the authenticity of the stones they are buying, which has led to the demand for some kind of assurance that they’re buying a real item with genuine value, said Bhagwan Das, Dausad Dusad and Company. “Once you purchased a coloured gemstone from a trustworthy gems dealer, the seller will assure the legitimacy of the gem. In such cases, they will certify that a particular stone is a natural ruby, which comes from Burma and has not been treated in a particular manner, apart from simple temperature. Typically, a dealer will also guarantee the genuineness as well as grading of the stone based on his experience. However, today, the end consumer is more aware of the certification process. Getting a third party certificate is the new norm,” he updated.
Need to catch up
Consequently, there is a need to reinvent the wheel. The colourstone industry in Jaipur needs to integrate itself with globally acceptable and recognised standards for assurance in gemstones certification. It is likely that the process will take considerable time to put the architecture in place. Even if the small labs upgrade their facilities and international laboratories that are globally acceptable and equipped with sophisticated systems set up base in Jaipur and develop a set of standards and purity verification for gemstones, the ongoing difficulties in getting the products certified will continue to trouble the trade.
Narendra Lakhi, managing director, Biharilal Holaram Jewellers, drew our attention to various problems in the trade when it comes to certification of colourstones in Jaipur. “GTL is the only main lab in Jaipur. The International Gemological Institute (IGI) is doing certification of colourstone on a small level. Hence, the entire certification infrastructure in Jaipur is inadequate. If labs like the GIA start certifying gemstones, then a lot of progress can be made in the industry. Moreover, international lab like SSEF, AGL and Gubelin should also open their services here. Though these companies are independent, they command a very good reputation. Despite synthetic and artificially enhanced stones posing challenges to the trade, market confidence in coloured gemstones has grown significantly in the past few years; thanks to transparent valuation standards, the establishment of institutional gemology labs and active market transactions,” he signed out.
In view of the increasing demand of colourstone jewellery, a beginning would need to be made with the existing facilities available in Jaipur to unleash the potential of the huge demand emerging in the country and abroad for colourstone jewellery. Time is short and the industry has a lot of catching up to do.