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Diamonds: Rocks for all seasons

Last updated on: December 19, 2003 12:17 IST

With the market for diamond jewellery growing rapidly, a number of sight holders are opening outlets to retail their products. The latest to jump on the diamond jewellery bandwagon is Mumbai-based Suashish Diamonds Ltd. Earlier this year the $200-million company started its retail arm, Ishi's.

"We've been in the diamond business for 40 years and starting Ishi's was only a natural progression to reach the customer," says Marzin R Shroff, chief executive, Ishi's. According to consultancy firm KSA Technopak, the total jewellery market in India is pegged at Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion).

Shroff says that diamond jewellery accounts for Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion). Branded diamond jewellery, in turn, accounts for Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion) of this. "Our main competition is the 350,000 jewellery outlets in the country who sell unbranded jewellery," says Marzin.

The growing retail market for diamond jewellery was the principal reason for Suashish to set up a retail arm. "We started producing jewellery in 1998. And nearly 62 per cent was exported to the US," reveals Shroff. According to him the global diamond market is around $55 billion of which the share of the US is $27.4 billion. "By launching Ishi's we are not be dependent on one single market."

In its bid to capture the imagination of the Indian customer, Ishi's has come out with a number of marketing gimmicks. Chief among them was the creation of the world's most expensive tie. Priced at Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million), the tie is made of pure silk and 150 gm of white gold studded with 261 diamonds and weighing 77 carats.

"We offer custom-made diamond ties also," says Shroff. The retail arm has tied-up with design house Satya Paul to design these ties. A range of designer diamond jewellery will be marketed exclusively at Satya Paul stores and Ebony in Delhi and Mumbai. The new range will also include jewellery for men.

Besides three own stores (two in Mumbai and one in Dubai), Suashish plans to market its branded jewellery through lifestyle stores and local jewellers.

"Traditionally, in India, jewellery is bought only during Diwali and marriages. We want to push jewellery sales during the non-season," explains Shroff. For the time being he wants to consolidate his brand for the next few years before going ahead with expansion plans.
Yusuf Begg