Surat, a city in the western state of Gujarat, is known as the “Diamond City of India” for its leading role in the diamond industry. The city has a long and illustrious history of cutting, polishing and trading diamonds, making it a global hub for the precious gems.
How Surat Became a Diamond Destination
Surat’s journey to a diamond dominance began in the 18th century when skilled diamond cutters from Africa made it their home. Over time, the local Gujarati population honed their expertise in processing, polishing and cutting diamonds, creating a thriving diamond ecosystem. This led to an influx of laborers from around the world, seeking employment in Surat’s burgeoning diamond industry.
What Makes Surat’s Diamond Industry Shine
Surat’s diamond industry flourished, in part, due to its rich resource base. The city had access to the Ukai Dam for hydroelectric power, the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station for electric supply and the Tapi River for water resources. In contrast, other districts in Gujarat lacked the infrastructure necessary for such a specialized industry.
Another unique feature of Surat’s diamond trade is its culture of conducting transactions on credit. Most business dealings involve purchasing, keeping and selling diamonds on credit, rather than immediate exchanges of money. This practice fosters trust and long-lasting relationships within the industry.
The Indian government has also played a significant role in supporting Surat’s diamond industry through various schemes and subsidies. Economic zones have been established, making the diamond business even more lucrative. These policies have paved the way for continued growth.
How Surat’s Diamond Industry Evolved and Expanded
Surat’s diamond industry has not remained stagnant. Initially focused on polishing, many businesses have expanded to include trading and selling diamonds worldwide, showcasing the industry’s flexibility and adaptability.
Surat has also embraced new technologies and innovations to enhance its diamond production and quality. For instance, Surat has adopted laser cutting machines, computer-aided design software and artificial intelligence tools to improve its efficiency and accuracy.
How Surat’s Diamond Industry Impacts the World
Remarkably, around 90% of the world’s mined diamonds are polished in Surat, contributing to approximately 80% of India’s annual diamond trade. This extraordinary feat has led to Surat’s well-deserved moniker as the “Diamond City of India”.
Surat’s diamond industry has also boosted the city’s economy and social development. Between 2001 and 2008, Surat experienced an astonishing annual Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 11.5%, the highest of any Indian city. The city’s exponential growth earned it the distinction of being the fourth fastest-growing city in the world.
Surat’s diamond industry has also created a thriving community with a rich legacy and vibrant culture. The diamond industry in Surat has deep-rooted connections with the Patel community of Saurashtra, who kickstarted the trade in the 1960s. The proximity to the financial capital, Mumbai and market-oriented economic reforms in the 1990s further fueled the growth. As a result, a burgeoning middle class embraced diamond jewelry alongside traditional gold ornaments.
How Surat’s Diamond Industry Collaborates and Progresses
Surat Diamond Association (SDA), a non-profit organization founded in 1988, comprises major leaders of the local diamond industry. With over 4,500 members, SDA strives to foster the growth of the diamond sector through various initiatives, such as technology awareness seminars, educational programs and advocating for tax reductions. Moreover, they work towards resolving labor-related issues within the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector.
Among the many companies that contribute to Surat’s diamond prowess, some of the leading names include Sarvada Jewels, Paras Diamond Co., OM Diamond, Asian Star Co. Ltd., Pokia Impex Pvt. Ltd., S. Vinodkumar Diamonds and SkyBlue Diamond , just to name a few.
Surat is undoubtedly a shining example of how a city can transform itself into a global leader in a niche industry. With its dazzling diamonds, Surat has carved a niche for itself in the world market.