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Industry News: De Beers’ Conservation Call; How India’s New Tax Impacts Diamonds; Exelco’s Troubles July 05, 2017 (0 comments)

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De Beers Group Calls For Research Submissions For Leading Conservation Conference

Johannesburg, South Africa—De Beers Group is calling for research papers to be presented at the 8th Annual Oppenheimer De Beers Group Research Conference taking place October 17-18 in Johannesburg. 

Academics, students, researchers, site managers, and environmental managers that have carried out research on any E Oppenheimer & Son or De Beers Group sites are encouraged to submit their findings for presentation to more than 180 attendees. Conservation properties include those on De Beers Group’s Diamond Route, such as the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, Rooipoort Nature Reserve, Orapa Makgadikgadi, and the Kimberley Big Hole, as well as a number of the company’s operations and E Oppenheimer & Son properties. 

The Diamond Route, launched in 2002 to promote biodiversity conservation and education, connects seven conservation sites and nature reserves located around De Beers Group’s mines in southern Africa. The conference provides a platform for those working or studying in the areas of ecology, archaeology, paleontology, or cultural, tourist or social research, to share their findings with an audience of their peers. It also offers an opportunity for site managers and researchers to discuss the latest environmental, conservation and ecology trends, and guides future research and postgraduate opportunities across the Diamond Route.

Patti Wickens, senior environmental manager of the De Beers Group, said, “The conference first began as a platform to highlight the ‘good that diamonds do’ by making significant contributions to conservation. Today, more than ever, we’re keen to keep this vision alive by showcasing the positive contribution that safe and sustainable diamond mining can provide.”

 

Diamond Supplier Exelco Has Assets Seized

Antwerp, Belgium—Exelco NV, a major diamond house that numbers key names like Signet, Sterling, and Chow Tai Fook among the customers it supplies, has had its assets seized for nonpayment of loans.

According to Bloomberg.com, the Belgian bank KBC Group NV is seeking to recover 26 million euros (US $29 million) from the diamantaire. Bailiffs searched the firm’s offices in Antwerp, as well as other offices—including De Beers and ABN Amro Group NV—where it might have assets.

According to Bloomberg, the goods seized do not cover Exelco’s outstanding debt. The firm also reportedly has credit lines with Standard Chartered Plc, which last year stunned the diamond industry by announcing plans to exit the sector where it is one of the two leading lenders.

Exelco’s troubles underscore the struggles of the midstream segment of diamond cutters, polishers, and traders, where profit margins, if they exist at all, are now razor thin. Read the full article here.

Update: On July 7, an Antwerp court ordered KBC to return the seized assets within 24 hours, saying Exelco was on track to repay its debts by 2020 as planned. Read more here and here.

 

Pros And Cons Of India’s New Goods And Service Tax

By Mark Gershburg, CEO, Gemological Science International

New York, NY—Following the July 1 implementation of the new goods and service tax (GST) in India, jewelry dealers in the country will pay taxes ranging from 0.25% to 3% for gems. More specifically, gold, semi-diamonds and cut diamonds will attract a 3% tax, whereas rough diamonds will be taxed at 0.25%. The new tax rates are in line with the old tax rates for jewelry, which ranged between 2% and 2.5% for all states except Kerala. Under the new unified service tax (GST), consumers will effectively pay a 13% duty on gold and diamond jewelry, because the GST Council maintained the 10% import duty. Below is some more information on this topic.

Mark Gershburg

An Overview of Gem & Jewelry Industry in India. Accounting for about 7% of the country's GDP, the gems and jewelry industry is one of the biggest industries in India. On a global scale, India is a major player in this space. For instance, the country is home to the biggest diamond exchange in the world; the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB). Located in Mumbai, India, the BDB covers over 20 acres and is home to over 2,000 diamond dealers -- both small and large—, as well as other service providers in the industry such as banks and the Custom house. India currently cuts, polishes and exports more diamonds than any other country in the world. Specifically, according to figures from the Gems and Jewelry Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), Indian diamond cutters today produce 11 out of every 12 cut diamonds in the world. Moreover, the country global production by value and volume currently stands at 60% and 85% respectively.

Furthermore, estimates from Research and Markets, a leading market research company, show that the India's gem industry will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) rate of about 16% from 2014 to 2019. Among the factors that have made India the jewelry capital of the world is the availability of relatively inexpensive but highly skilled labor. Given the significance of this sector both locally and internationally, the Government of India regularly takes measures aimed at promoting investments in the industry. One such measure was the recent implementation of the GST.

Pros of GST. In my view as CEO of GSI, an independent gemological organization with a global footprint, I’ve expressed support and satisfaction with the new tax rates. In particular, I believe that the new GST tax rates would spur growth and help organize the jewelry industry. Additionally, the rates would promote transparency in the industry.

Cons of GST. One of the concerns over GST is it may make India's diamond exports less competitive on the global market in terms of price because some Asian countries including Thailand, China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam do not levy GST on imported rough diamonds. 

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