Rough Times for Surat Diamond Workers Owing to High Prices

The sharp increase in rough diamond prices is adversely impacting diamond workers of Surat, Diamond ex-porters reduced purchase of rough diamonds owing to high prices, thereby reducing the need for workers for cutting and polishing of diamonds.

As a result, in some cases workers are being deployed for only three days a week. Rough diamonds prices had started increasing from July onwards and the outbreak of Omicron in diamond mining regions of South Africa and Botswana pushed up prices another 20%.

“Since rough diamond prices have gone up, the cutting and polishing units are not replenishing the stock. This is why the work is less at the units,” Diamonds workers Union vice president Bhavish Tank told ET. “The workers are not being called every day. Some units have cut down work on Saturdays too. Every day workers are coming to us and complaining about this.”

Workers in Surat cut and polish more than 85% of the diamonds available in the world. The diamond city has 6000 polishing units, which employ nearly 700000 people and clock an annual turnover of about Rs1.45 lakh crore. Tank said the union will take up the issue with the Gems and Jewellery Exports Promotion Council (GJEPC) shortly.

Dinesh Nava Diya, regional chairman (Gujarat), GJEPC, said: “The units are working on a need-based pattern now as rough prices have gone up.

They are every cautions now so that their profitability does not take a hit. The industry had gone through a very bad time in the pre-pandemic period.”

When the demand revived after the second Covid wave, diamond units faced a paucity of workers, said Nava Diya.” Now the situation has improved.

However, high rough diamond prices are a matter of concern when there is robust demand across the globe. Polished prices have gone up 10-15% but a further rise is required to maintain profitability of units.”

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