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Surat takes the shine off Antwerp

 

Sanjeev Ratan Singh found  at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ jan. 20, 2006

SURAT: This dazzling city has wrested a major part of the $22-million diamond cutting and polishing business of the world's diamond capital — Antwerp. 

From 25,000 diamond polishing workers that Antwerp had in the 1970s, the figure has now dwindled to barely 1,000. The reason for this slide is the shift of business to Surat which offers cheap labour. 

Among those watching this trend over the years is Ashish K Mehta, partner of Antwerp-based firm, Kantilal Chhotalal, who says Antwerp has now been restricted to playing the role of a diamond trading centre. 

Mehta, who was visiting his home town of Palanpur, told TOI that in the past few years nearly 65 per cent of diamond polishing business in the world has shifted to India, mainly Surat. 

surat diamonds Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council chairman Bakul Mehta, while affirming the shift, said that every nine out of 10 diamonds are now polished in India with over a million workers engaged in this business. 

Not only is the labour cheap, but it is highly skilled, which has made diamond businessmen to shift this segment of work to Surat, Mehta says. 

The figures speak for themselves, even though there is talk of Surat losing its shine in recent years. As against one million diamond workers in India there are just about 25,000 in China and about 20,000 in Thailand, Armenia and Russia, he said. 

Gujarat Hira Bourse secretary Nanubhai Vanani said that Surat is definitely dazzling as far as manufacturing is concerned, but a lot remains to be done on the marketing front where the Indian diamond business is still lacking. 

read also:

surat diamonds set to steal Antwerp’s dazzle

Call it ironic. Diamond traders in Surat operate from the Hira Bourse in a building called the Belgium Tower, right next to Belgium Square. But most of them don’t know, or probably don’t care, that their city is set to overtake the Belgian city of Antwerp as the diamond processing centre of the world....

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