Blood stained or not, diamonds from India had fewer takers during the 2006 Christmas-New Year season. The cut and polished diamond exports from India fell eight per cent in rupee terms and 11 per cent in dollar terms during April-December 2006, as per the provisional figures put out by the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
The publicity preceding the release of the Leonardo Dicaprio starrer, Blood Diamond created ripples in the diamond trade. If not the world, the US market which accounts for 40 per cent of India's exports had seen sales slide, as a result of serious activism to publicise the effect of buying 'conflict diamonds'. "We only execute orders in pipeline and the fall in exports has got nothing to with the hype about the movie", says Mehul C Choksi, co-convenor, diamond panel committee, Gem and Jewellery Promotion Council.
Orders for the Christmas season were dull and even the Valentine season orders are not so good, says a diamond trader in Mumbai. "I have been a trader for two decades and I can tell that the business has been nowhere near the order we did in the last two years", he adds. Choksi maintains that it is only the cyclical nature of order flow that dampened diamond sales and not the movie.
The total gem and jewellery exports from the country witnessed a 3 per cent fall during April-August 2006, against a 25 per cent increase in exports the previous year. The diamond trade had taken efforts to publicise the fact that diamonds are put through the Kimberly Process certification process to make sure it is from conflict free region. "India has been following the process for last three and half years and there is nothing new about it, may the consumer awareness has increased now", says Choksi.
'The effect of the movie will fade away in the next few months and then we expect the trade to pick up and diamond prices to climb, so if you want to buy your much desired solitaire, this is the best time", says the diamond trader. No one from the trade wants a bad publicity especially at a time the film is running across theatres in India.