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Start calling job workers artisans; a mindset change is mandatory for this $7 billion industry to scale heights
In a first, GJEPC organised a SEZ Gem and Jewellery Conclave Vision 2025, where panellists discussed many pertinent issues that were all geared towards creating ‘Brand India’ and improving exports
By: Vijetha Rangabashyam
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Aug 24 2022 1:57PM
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Reference: 26490  

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In December last year, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal laid the foundation stone for a 70 Crore Mega Common Facility Centre at the Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ) Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Mumbai. Collectively, the manufacturing units that operate out of SEZ contribute $30 billion towards exports – the idea behind building a state-of-the-art facility is to improve their efficacy in terms of skill and technology. Currently, when it comes to gold jewellery, India ranks Number 4 and one of the biggest markets largely remains the U.S. Our gem and jewellery industry is widely known for its mass produced, low-end jewellery. When it comes to high-end pieces with design at its core and quality finish, the world looks at countries like Switzerland and China.

The one-point agenda of the first SEZ Gem and Jewellery Conclave Vision 2025 was to outline the objectives of the Mega Common Facility Centre and how as an industry we can increase our exports. The facility is set to be an iconic building with a sprawling space of 90,000 sq-ft. The first two floors will be a machinery and service centre, the third floor will be a space for innovation, the fourth floor will have training and upskilling and the top two floors will be a facilitation centre where regular seminars and workshops will take place.                        

Shyam Jagannathan (I.A.S.), Zonal Development Commissioner, SEEPZ, Mumbai pointed out that India has always been a frontrunner in SEZs. He stated that the exports within SEZs in India grew by approximately 50% between 2014-2018 and that SEZ has been a successful model. However, he also said that there are challenges – more than 24,000 sq-mt is not being used and there have been issues in maintaining institutional balance. The Baba Kalyani Report and the DESH Bill, which was passed earlier this year, will address all of these fundamental issues, he noted.

The Conclave hosted a few riveting panel discussions with experts from various industries. A conversation on enhancing exports to $15 billion was moderated by Bobby Kothari, Director, Jewelex India. The panellists included C.P.S Chauhan, IRS, Joint Development Commissioner, SEEPZ; Rohit Gupta, Managing Director, Agra Products Pvt. Ltd. (ACPL); Tejas Shah, CEO, Unique Designs Inc.; Ashish Shah, Managing Director, Gold Star Jewellery Pvt. Ltd.

The panel discussed the roadmap to increase the export target from $7bn to $15bn. It is estimated that the Indian gem and jewellery segment’s untapped potential is $30 billion. “Why are we only focusing on small diamonds, why are the bigger roughs not coming to us?” asked Chauhan. He noted that India has to start focusing on producing finer, more refined jewellery. He also said that the lab-grown diamond sector has huge potential to enhance our exports. Other panellists talked about their journey and what particularly led them to be successful in their ventures.

The 2nd panel discussion ‘Technology, Skilling & Branding – Manufacturing for Future & Promote Make in India SEZs", had panellists including Ankit Mehta, Founder & Director, Walking Tree; Professor Asim Tewari, Department of Mechanical Engg. IIT Bombay; Adil Kotwal, CEO, Creations Jewellery Mfg. Pvt. Ltd.; Dr. Parag K Vyas, Director & Founder, Grau Bar Design Studios; and was moderated by Neville Tata Executive Director, Renaissance Global Ltd.

“A brand is like a language, something that is aspirational to the consumer. This is not possible without technology. There is a direct correlation between technology, skill and branding,” said Ankit Mehta. He also shared an anecdote from his recent trip to France. “I visited a factory and the owner introduced his bench workers to me as his jewellers and I felt ashamed. We still have the mindset of treating our artisans as labourers, we need to get rid of that mentality; that is the only way we can grow,” he insisted.

Asim Tiwari elucidated the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it is going to be a game changer to take manufacturing to the next level. “The end user should view SEEPZ as the hub of cutting-edge technology and art,” he pointed out.  Tiwari said that IIT Bombay has been working on an AI-based model with 4 jewellers from SEEPZ to optimise manufacturing and minimise defects. He said that the first version of the model would be ready by December this year.

Adil Kotwal said that without skill, even the best technology is of no use. “We need to respect our artisans and stop treating them as job workers. We need to upskill them and compensate them properly,” he said. Dr. Parag Vyas highlighted that jewellery manufacturing is all about accuracy and precision. “We lack the discipline. I started working with tools at a very young age and I still practice every single day,” he said.



A brand is like a language, something that is aspirational to the consumer. This is not possible without technology. There is a direct correlation between technology, skill and branding.I visited a factory in France and the owner introduced his bench workers to me as his jewellers and I felt ashamed. We still have the mindset of treating our artisans as labourers, we need to get rid of that mentality; that is the only way we can grow - Ankit Mehta, Walking Tree

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