The branded jewellery segment is glinting with action. Everybody from diamond polishers to traditionally established stores, are putting their stakes on branding their gemstones.
The retail boom has spawned over 30 brands in the jewellery segment over the past year and there is more to come.
Sheetal Diamonds, the largest diamond polishers in India is all set to launch its Kiah brand of diamond jewellery. The Diamond Trading Company that pioneered the concept of branding is also bringing out a new collection under the brand name of Sangini. Some of its other famous brands include Nakshatra, Asmi and Arisia.
Says Marzin Shroff, chief executive officer of Ishi's Jewellery, a division of the Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) Suashish Diamonds, "The global diamond sector has been under pressure over the last few years with shrinking margins, which has prompted the industry to explore more lucrative alternatives. Besides, the shift is also driven by brighter economic prospects in India along with the retail revolution."
Launched last year, the company is charting out a aggressive expansion plan for Ishi's from 35 outlets to over 70 across the country and have already opened seven stores abroad.
The jewellery market in India is estimated to be around Rs 60,000 crore (Rs 600 billion), second to the fast moving consumer goods market. Of this, the branded segment accounts for only Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion). Globally, branded jewellery accounts for only 8 per cent of the total market of $70 billion.
In India, this equation is all set to change. Industry experts say the branded jewellery is currently growing at 15 per cent annually and is expected to grow at 40-45 per cent over the next three years.
Titan Industries was the first to have a national presence in branded jewellery under the Tanishq name in 1995. Tanishq has recorded sales of over Rs 420 crore (Rs 4.2 billion) in 2003-04 and is expecting to double its turnover in the next two years.
Unlike the traditional designs these branded players are putting their stakes on uniquely designed jewellery modelled on the famous Italian style of lightweight jewellery.
While gold continues to steal the limelight among the precious metals used in jewellery white gold and platinum are increasingly being used in branded jewellery.
Its not that just Indian companies are jumping into the bandwagon, foreign companies are also looking at India. Hammer Plus, a hundred per cent subsidiary of Hammer & Sohne from Germany was set up a year ago in India.
Sucheta Khandwala, managing director, Hammer Plus says, "Hammer & Sohne had partnered with various jewellery companies over the last 13 years and set up its own company last year seeing the immense potential in the domestic jewellery segment. The company already has a base of over 200 retailers, and is expecting a turnover of Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) in the next year."
Says Mehul Choksi, chief executive officer, Gitanjali Group, "Branded jewellery is expanding and currently accounts for Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion) of our company's turnover of Rs 1500 crore (Rs 15 billion), but we expect a growth to Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) by 2007." Gitanjali's brands are Gili and D'damas.
To promote branded jewellery, celebrity endorsements are also becoming the order of the day with brands like D'damas from Geetanji Jewellers roping in bollywood stars like Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty, Celina Jetley among others.Hammer Plus has signed glamourous Rajya Sabha member Hema Malini on to endorse the products.