Sachin Jain has been a part of the Indian arm of De Beers, the global diamond conglomerate, since 2010 when he came on board as Head of Retail. In 2014, he took over as President of Forevermark and today he is the Managing Director of De Beers, India. He is responsible for the Forevermark business in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East GCC business. He speaks to us about the importance of India for De Beers, the Indian diamond market, and how the pandemic has had a positive impact on the gems and jewellery business. Excerpts:
How was the gems and jewellery industry impacted during the pandemic?
Last year October 16 was the first festive day and since then we have seen phenomenal growth. This year when the second lockdown took place, the industry was confident that it is temporary. Not a single order got cancelled. In the months of June and July even with a partial opening, we saw a strong comeback. I foresee 2021 festive season to be one of the strongest festive seasons in a decade. The confidence in the market is very high. We conducted our annual forum physically this year, maintaining all Covid protocols. Seeing the enthusiasm of the participants, I can tell you this is going to be a very strong season.
It has been a big comeback for the industry and that has got to do with what diamonds and jewellery mean for the Indian consumer.
Why do you think that is?
It is a combination of things. People want to invest in luxurious products but ones that hold value. The avenues to invest are also limited right now, and that also plays a role. A large part of the consumption comes from wedding jewellery. While during the pandemic, the weddings have become smaller in terms of the number of guests, the budget for the weddings has not gone down. So the percentage being spent on gems and jewellery has gone up. The physical events are restricted. They are not those 2,000-people, five-functions weddings. Honeymoons are also restricted. So all of that has helped the business.
Could you share some figures with us about how Forevermark India has been doing?
The year 2019 was our best year yet. The year 2020 was of course, a big setback. We expect to perform at 10-15 per cent higher than 2019 in 2021. We will be present in about 275 stores across the country. We are also increasing the number of exclusive stores from 13 to 16.
What new things are you doing at DeBeers?
We are doing quite a few things. Firstly, we have changed the name of our leading brand Forevermark to De Beers Forevermark where we are offering the entire legacy of the De Beers organisation to the brand. We are also launching a new range called Avaanti, which is a global design, and we are launching it in all parts of the world. Lastly, we are launching a global campaign for diamonds and recrafting the connection that consumers, particularly, younger consumers, will have with diamonds.
What is the size of the diamond jewellery market in India?
Broadly our estimation is that the diamond jewellery market is close to $5.5 billion in India and is on an important growth trajectory. We at De Beers believe is that India will be an important region for us and for the global diamond industry's growth over the next few years.
How important is India as a market for De Beers?
Very important. There are two parts. India plays a very important role in the manufacturing process. Nine out of 10 diamonds come to India for cutting and polishing. So it's like a nerve centre for the global diamond business. And now, from a consumption point of view also it is increasing. Currently, it is the third largest market and we only expect it to grow further. Our number one market is the US, with almost 50 per cent of all global diamond consumption. Our second-largest market is China with about 18 per cent of the world's diamonds going to China and then around 7 to 7.5 per cent come to India.
What is the growth projection for the Indian diamond market?
We are very positive about how the economic scenario is changing, how women are leading the change in their lifestyle. That is going to lead to more consumption of diamonds. There are more and more young customers buying diamonds. So we think we will get to double digits in the next few years. The growth will be led by easy, simple daily wear jewellery. More solitaire driven. Right now, it's more about tiny diamonds put together, which is more decorative. But we expect it to move towards simpler designs but bigger size diamonds.
What are De Beers' future plans in India?
The idea is to invest in all sectors right from design to retail, and provide transparency in every single diamond. The new-age consumer needs assurance of where they put their hard-earned money. The growth trajectory has been very strong for us in the past few years and we are hopeful it will continue.
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