Martin Rapaport has called on manufacturers in Surat to develop relationships with small US jewelers in an attempt to expand their sales and marketing.
The Indian diamond city, a hub for cutting and polishing, remains highly traditional, and must advance its trade if it wishes to survive, the Chairman of the Rapaport Group said in a speech at last week’s Surat Diamond Expo. To that end, young people entering the industry there should focus on trading and marketing as opposed to just manufacturing, he added.
At present, most of the city’s polished stones go to marketing units in Mumbai for distribution, meaning Surat has not developed as a significant center for diamond sales.
“Recognize that just because you know how to make diamonds, doesn’t mean you know how to sell them,” Rapaport said. “So, just making the diamond and saying ‘I’ll wait for the customer to come to me’ [is] not enough in the modern world.”
Smaller American jewelers should be the targets for sales as they are more likely to be open to buying Surat companies’ goods, Rapaport noted. Larger companies such as Signet Jewelers and Tiffany & Co., comprising about 60% of US buyers, no longer source from smaller open-market players because it is harder to trace the ethical origins of their diamonds, he explained.
“They buy very specifically, and they don’t buy on the open market…they buy from big sellers,” he added. “Maybe 40% of the demand are small, independent jewelers.”
Surat manufacturers must establish global online marketing and distribution capabilities to create demand and meet buyers’ needs, Rapaport said. Diamond buyers outside India seek detailed information about the diamonds, online access to them and ease of purchase, according to Rapaport.
Cutters should also only manufacture goods if they can make profit from them, he added.