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Diamond, gemstones are the future, may beat gold in 10 yrs



Nita Mukhpadhyay, head of products, SENCO, feels with changing societal milieu, the aspirational diamond and luxurious gemstones may take over the top jewellery spot

Diamond and coloured gemstones will be the two market dominators in the next 5-10 years. They drive aspirations and it’s just a matter of time when gold takes a backseat and becomes a mere add-on to sell these precious stones.

Being a part of SENCO for 18 years, I have seen that more than 10 years ago, there were buyback issues with diamonds and it was believed that one can buy their first diamond easily but would face a lot of hassle while reselling it. In that context, gold remained the go-to metal for investment. This continued as long as people thought jewellery is fit to be worn on wedding ceremonies only. Their conception of preciousness of their jewellery prohibited them to enjoy it.

Nowadays, young people enjoy their jewellery. They don’t dress up to match the glitter of their jewellery. Instead, they want jewellery to match their persona. Since 8 years, we’ve been noticing a change in our consumer’s dressing preferences. Today’s women are bold with their dresses and decisions. So she needs a diamond that suits her self-reliance and confidence and not gold. But before the introduction of Nakshatra, diamonds were beyond the reach of customers. The category, though as secure in terms of returns as gold, could never become equally trustworthy because none promoted this assurance publicly. At SENCO, we assure buyers that resale will be done with an appraised value of the diamonds since we accept resale on current selling price, provided you keep the bills and certificate intact and exchange for diamond jewellery.

The biggest challenge for any industry person has been to make diamonds as acceptable and affordable as gold. This wasn’t possible with the previous generation and the way societal interactions happened. Demand of any product is the reflection of its societal and financial acceptance. Today, for instance, 70% of SENCO’s employees are under 30 years of age. All our designers and even the labourers are young. Working with them has helped me pre-empt their thought processes, preferences and decision-making mechanisms to some extent. I know that they don’t believe in savings, they want to enjoy their present and that’s how they don’t mind spending on luxury items irrespective of their earnings. Similarly, jewellers now make lightweight pieces and know that they can charge handsomely on a jewellery product that must not feel or be heavy. They should be dynamic enough to go well with different dresses and accessories. Jewellery now is a part of a woman’s overlook look. So, the selling strategy has to change accordingly. While any jeweller would welcome high-ticket purchases, we need to understand that their frequencies are far and few and at SENCO, we really target those attending a wedding ceremony rather than the brides only because everyone wants to dress up for occasions and thus, our focus now is on everyday wear. I notice this shift in focus among other players too.

People also love to wear colours and this actually works well for the retailers. It enhances the volume of the jewellery and the beauty of diamonds. Take pearls for instance. This is an ornament that fits with beauty of every age. Violets, turquoise, sapphire and semi-precious stones are much on demand now, although emeralds have their own class. Compare a classy combination like emeralds and diamonds with that of only a gold jewellery piece of the same value. No buyer would want to wear a heavy piece like that and go to office. Customer needs have changed drastically and I believe that the pace with which diamond market is growing, I feel in 5-10 years time the diamond to gold jewellery market ratio might be 60:40 where gold would remain a metal where diamonds will be studded. This was a trend overseas, for which exports of diamonds and gemstones were very high but now, the domestic consumption is very high. People think, “I’ll wear something small, but it must be something really special.”

Gemstones too have a lot of demand in India today but the trading mechanism has not been that open as compared to diamonds. This sector will need some time to get at par with diamond’s popularity and for that, we need more organised mechanism. That way, the acceptance will be better. Although east is a big market for astrological gemstones but that doesn’t work for highly fashion-conscious North and central markets. I believe jewellery has to tie up with fashion intimately. The retailers need to study current fashion trends and promote those colours that are doing good in the market. We have seen that certain colours do exceptionally well in the domestic fashion market and so, it is wise to promote those coloured gemstones only. It’s an ongoing practice and the retailer has to keep up with it.

Challenges are there to make one stronger. This holds true for anyone and any company. The challenge to create a product that would instantly catch the customer’s attention is what every company faces and SENCO has won over many such challenges, crossed several milestones in its 80 years of experience. I am thankful to the leadership quality and vision of Shankar Sen and the youthful, modernistic outlook of Suvankar Sen to take the company to its present glorious stature. I thank God for giving me such wonderful bosses.

As told to Shubham Dasgupta

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