'Trust' is the biggest casualty at diamond hub | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'Trust' is the biggest casualty at diamond hub

mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2011 01:06 IST
Kunal Purohit

“Trust, this profession has been working solely on the basis of this word. After Wednesday’s blasts, we will think twice before we conduct business.”

Diamond trader Jayesh Labdhi insisted that this was his personal opinion, but the remark echoed through the by-lanes of the city’s diamond trading hub at Opera House.

Insiders said that the lanes around Pancharatana building (that houses offices of diamond traders) were one of those few lanes in the city where there wouldn't be a single unknown face. Not just this, probably as old as the diamond hub itself, was the tradition of ‘street trading’.

“For years, brokers who can’t afford an office stood in these lanes and did business worth crores on the streets. They would open up the jokham [diamonds] on the streets and fix a price for it, without thinking twice about the security,” said an insider, who has been in the business for 25 years.

For a business, which reportedly has a turnover of about Rs150-200 crore every day, trust was the most important factor. “There is hardly any technology that we employ while dealing in diamonds. Since it’s a small community of around 5,000 traders, each one recognises the other and hence diamonds are passed around without any evidence of it on paper,” says an insider.

“Earlier, there was never any fear even while dealing in diamonds worth lakhs on the streets. That trust has been shattered now,” said Kiran Shah, who works in a private diamond-trading firm.

From handling diamonds worth crores on the streets, to dealing with unknown persons on the basis of references, the diamond trading community has been through it all. However, traders feel that might change.

The ‘trust’ factor was vital to all transactions here. “We would trust parties with diamonds worth crores without keeping any record of it, and give them a due date of 180 days to pay the money,” said Shah. “That trust will now erode. We can’t stop making transactions with unknown persons, but Wednesday’s incident will come back to haunt us even when we see an outsider entering these lanes,” said another trader, who has spent nearly 15 years in the trade.