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Gemstone industry seeks aid to fight ‘dragon’

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Trichy, once the capital of artificial gem cutting industry in India, lost its market to ambitious China that has become a market leader by supplying artificial gems to the entire nation with the backing of the technical advancements in the field. Unwilling to give up their traditional occupation, a section of the artificial gem producers, who still cling on to their generations-old business, have sought financial and technical support from the government o fight the Chinese monopoly. Though there is a cluster for artificial gem cutting and polishing workers in the city, the group remains inactive and seeks help from government to revive Trichy’s dominance in artificial gem production.

With as many as 5-6 lakh people involved in the artificial gem cutting industry, Trichy district comprising Lalgudi and Manachanallur blocks till 1990s were supplying artificial diamonds across the country, followed by Jaipur. Producing lakhs of artificial diamonds with size varying between 1 mm and 10 mm, the Indian jewellery was depending on the artificial gem manufacturers in Trichy. However, the rise of Chinese artificial gem industry armed with smart machines that are capable of producing lakhs of artificial gems in a day snatched the Indian market from the Trichy-based gems makers.

The artificial gems play a value addition role in gold jewellery mostly the earrings. “China and their state-of-the-art machinery grabbed the artificial gem market through competitive pricing and bulk production. We need financial and technical support to compete the Chinese giants,” T Rajasekar, 69-year-old artificial gem maker in Trichy said. Rajasekar is the only artificial gem producer in the whole of India to have imported a Chinese gem cutting machine worth Rs 30 lakh that can cut and shine 30,000 artificial diamonds a day.

Since Trichy market had relied on manual gem cutting, the generations-old gem makers could not compete witht he pace of bulk production by their Chinese counterparts. While Trichy jewellery needs 2-3 lakh artificial gems a day, 99% of the requirement is being fulfilled by Chinese manufacturers. “If the government is willing to financially support us by means of subsidy and minimum-interest loans, indigenous production of artificial gems can be increased. By reviving our industry, we can at least attain self-sufficiency in fulfilling our domestic needs,” M Kalyani, a Manachanallur-based artificial gem maker added.

Constituted three years back, the artificial gem cutting cluster is struggling to rejuvenate the gem industry in Trichy. The absence of capital and latest infrastructure were cited as the reasons for the poor show of the cluster. “We need to study the existing market and production capacity for reviving the cluster. The district administration has been supportive. We will enable financial support to spruce up indigenous production of gems,” N Kanagasabapathy, president of Trichy District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (TIDITSSIA).

Courtesy: Times of India

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