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Platinum, Not Gold»

Jewellery makers can now hope for a platinum glow

All that glitters is not gold. It could be platinum. Rare, precious and eternal platinum is making India shine on the exports front.

Earth?s most precious metal has seen a rise in demand in the last decade, and India is ideally placed to take a lead in manufacturing and exporting platinum-based, diamond studded jewellery for the international market.

?The demand for the metal has always outpaced the supply, hence the prices per ounce of platinum have been increasing in the international market (more than $600/ounce against gold?s $450/ounce). India can offer relatively low-priced high quality platinum jewellery.

Hence, the demand for made-in-India platinum jewellery is bound to increase in the near future,? says Sanjay Kothari, chairman, Gems and Jewellery Exports Promotion Council (GJEPC). He added that the proposed cut in the customs duty in the ?04-05 Budget from Rs 550/10 gm of platinum to Rs 200/10 gm of platinum would help platinum jewellery manufacturers to scale up their production and meet the global demand.

Total exports of gems, jewellery and precious metal stood at $9.5bn in ?03, with platinum?s contribution to the exports kitty being negligible. However, the government has targeted $16bn worth of exports by the end of ?07 and platinum jewellery will take a giant share in the increased exports, feel experts.

Government initiatives, coupled with cost-effectiveness and quality designs that Indian designers offer to international consumers has made India a hot spot for manufacturing and exporting platinum jewellery.

The top platinum consuming countries are Japan and China, followed by the US and UK. ?Platinum in raw material form will be cheaper once the lowering in the customs duty is effective. This will give India an added advantage since the country is already a hub for cutting and processing diamond. So value addition will be easier,? says Sabhyasachi Ray of GJEPS.

?India processes diamonds worth more than 60% in value terms, but of late it is facing stiff competition from China which is also one of the major consumers. Hence, India needs to develop other areas of competence,? said an industry observer.

He, however, assured high returns on investment. According to a recent CII-KPMG report, India needs to do value addition to safeguard itself from threats of being eliminated as a processing intermediary, by creating areas of expertise in jewellery like platinum.

At present, the demand for platinum is 3m ounce more than the supply in the international market.