Jaipur turns into Gemstone city

Nearly-three centuries ago when Sawai Jai Singh made efforts to promote the gems industry in his newly founded city, nobody must have thought how big it was to grow over the years.

What began with a handful of artisans-working on unpolished precious stones has today turned into the largest industry of the Pink City, with exports of gems and jewellery to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore per-year.

There was a time when Jaipur was known only for the cut and polished precious and semiprecious gemstones, but gradually, the Pink City has earned a reputation for jewellery be it gold, silver or coloured stones.
The last decade has been particularly good for the industry, when it witnessed a sea of change in terms of modernisation, growth and exposure. The industry, over the past-decade, has grown at an annual rate of nearly 10%.
"There was a time when Jaipur was known only for sourcing of the most fine-cut precious and semi-precious gemstones. However , silver jewellery-has now become equally popular, followed by gold, diamond and coloured stone jewellery,'' said Rajiv Arora, president, Federation of Rajasthan Exporters.

According to rough estimates , of the Rs 2,000 crore, the share of gold jewellery is Rs 400 crore, silver close to Rs 600 crore while the rest of the revenue is generated by gems along with diamond and coloured stones. Over 1.5 lakh people are directly-or indirectly associated with this industry.

The road leading to this achievement has certainly not been a bed of roses and the transformation was snail-paced . In fact, even till the early 2000s, the gems and jewellery industry in the city was largely limited to the Walled City--the famous Johari Bazaar for retail and the small rooms in the houses on the by-lanes , which doubled up as workshops for-artisans, for cut and polished rough gems. As most of the work of cutting gemstones is done manually, it was difficult to get-samesized gems for bulk orders, which was a prerequisite for several export orders.

However, the special zone for gems and jewellery at the Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP) at Sitapura, besides a gems and jewellery SEZ, developed by RIICO, worked wonders for promoting the industry. It began with a handful of small units a decade ago but today houses nearly 150 small and large units, a figure that continues to grow. "Transformation and modernisation witnessed by the industry after the EPIP was set up. Today, our techniques , after the import of latest-machines from Israel and China are as good and modern as anywhere else in the world. We are in the best position ever to compete at the international level,'' says Vijay Kumar Chordia, president, Sitapura Gems and Jewellery Industry Association.

From tradition-bound manual processing of coloured gems and manufacture of specialised jewellery like Minakari, to exporters of studded gold, silver and to some extent , platinum jewellery, Jaipur has-come a long way. Though, the huge investment in the industry has helped in setting up a few state of the art cutting and polishing units in the
city, the traditional, conventionally imperfect, hand-made jewellery is in equal demand.

Jaipur jewellery today marks the perfect blend of contemporary and ethnic designs , modified to suit the demands in domestic and international markets. Industry experts expect further growth in the sector, especially in diamonds and coloured stones, which has opened a vista of newer-opportunities for city jewellers. 

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