Global diamond mining and trading major, De Beers Group on Tuesday unveiled its newly expanded diamond grading and testing centre, the International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), in Surat at an investment of $5 million (approximately Rs. 34 crore), taking the group’s total investment in Surat to $15 million so far.
The facility, employing about 100, has the capacity to process diamonds worth over $500 million every year. The newly expanded facility would provide polished diamond grading services, diamond verification services, as well as melee (small diamond) testing and screening.
“This facility will help protect the domestic industry against emerging risks. And through IIDGR, De Beers Group is investing in innovations to ensure India maintains its position as a global diamond hub,” said Jonathan Kendall, President, IIDGR.
Commenting on the group’s new initiatives, Kendall said that IIDGR education services will be launched in Surat — a global first for the group — in early 2017. “There will be three short-duration courses to provide practical understanding and knowledge on grading, melee screening and understanding synthetic diamonds. We plan to launch the course in March-April 2017,” Kendall stated.
On the consumption side, Kendall said India’s consumer demand for diamonds is set to grow significantly considering the potential increase in income levels in the next 10-20 years.
Around 90 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds are cut and polished in India, with the sector employing around 8,00,000 people in highly-skilled jobs.
“India has also experienced almost uninterrupted growth (in rupee terms) in consumer demand for diamond jewellery in the last 20 years and now makes up eight per cent of global demand,” he said.
Highlighting the need to recognise lab-grown diamonds, Kendall said De Beers Group’s IIDGR will make and market more of the PhosView screening instrument, which was well received in the market after its recent launch.
PhosView is a compact, self-contained screening device designed to allow parcels of polished stones to be quickly and accurately analysed to determine if they contain potential High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) synthetics.
“About 98 per cent of the world’s synthetic diamonds are HPHT synthetics. Jewellers, diamantiares and traders are willing to install a machine for themselves. We plan to make 200-300 such machines next year,” stated Kendall.