Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

India’s Gem Industry Gets Behind Diamond-Marketing Push

  • India’s GJEPC agrees to spend $2 million on diamond lobbying
  • About 90 percent of the world’s diamonds pass through India

The push for bigger diamond advertising campaigns and marketing to wealthy millennials has won support from a key part of the industry: India’s manufacturers and retailers.

India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, which represents almost 6,000 diamond companies, has agreed to contribute $2 million to the Diamond Producers Association, a group designed to promote gems and backed by miners, according to executives from both organizations. India is the global hub of diamond cutting, polishing and manufacturing. About 90 percent of the world’s diamonds pass through the nation, where as many as 1 million people are employed in the industry.

“It’s a demonstration of the leadership that the Indian industry has been showing,” said Jean-Marc Lieberherr, chief executive officer of the DPA. “It’s a big deal and a big vote of confidence.”

While the funds are modest, it’s a sign of broader support for diamond marketing in the face of increasing competition as wealthy shoppers turn to splurging on high-end electronics, such as Apple Inc.’s $1,000 iPhone X, and fine dining.

The DPA, the diamond industry’s main lobbying group, has previously been funded by miners, but is now reaching out to court gem traders, manufacturers and retailers. The group raised its budget almost 10-fold this year to about $57 million, with the vast majority coming from dominant producers De Beers and Russia’s Alrosa PJSC. India’s GJEPC plans to support the group for three years.

The group was set up in 2015 with an eye to revive the glory days of diamonds 50 years ago, when slogans like "a diamond is forever" were ubiquitous in popular culture. The collapse of De Beers’s monopoly, after losing a 10-year legal battle with the U.S. over price-fixing in 2004, left the industry splintered and miners unwilling to pay for promotion that would aid rivals.

“The council is looking forward to this partnership flourishing. We believe that we need to expand the diamond jewelry market that has been stagnant,” said GJEPC Vice Chairman Russell Mehta. “If we don’t expand the retail market, we will not get the growth in polished diamond prices or the growth in volume.”

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