At a time when the global luxury market is struggling to attract customers to keep their exports afloat, silver jewellery exports from India skyrocketed over the last five years. Silver jewellery exports from India quadrupled since 2010-11 due to rapid shift in consumer preferences in favour of light weight, modern and contemporary designs of gemstones studded ornaments without compromising on the “feel good” pride.
Data compiled by the apex trade body Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) showed India’s silver jewellery shipment at $2959 million in the financial year (FY) 2015-16 compared to $566 million in FY 2010-11. From the previous financial year i.e. 2014-15, however, exports of silver ornaments recorded a jump of 44%.
The growth in silver jewellery exports has opened an opportunity for Indian designers to compete with existing market leaders — including Thailand, China and Turkey. Subdued price quote and growing consumer confidence have lured customers to pick an alternative to gold with guaranteed buyback. All these factors have resulted in growth of silver jewellery exports from India.
“There is a silver lining in silver jewellery exporters. Until a few decades ago, India was exporting primary silver bars. Today, the world can see our presence in silver jewellery. Our growth indicates that we can easily become the largest silver jewellery exporter in the world,” said Praveen Shankar Pandya, chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
Silver prices in the international markets have declined by 50% over the last five years to trade currently at $15.44 an oz. Silver price marginally recovered in financial year 2017 though. In domestic markets, however, the impact of price fall was limited due to depreciation in the Indian rupee. In domestic currency, silver slipped to Rs 36,990 a kg, a decline of 34% from the level of Rs 56290 a kg in FY 2011-12.
“The slowdown in European manufacturing activity has benefitted India over the last few years. Understanding the need of overseas consumers, India has invested immensely in technology advancement for modern and contemporary designs of intrinsic jewellery. So, accumulating all, India is reaping the advantage of its expertise in the jewellery sector,” said Rahul Mehta, managing director, Silver Emporium, one of India’s largest silver jewellery exporters.
Silver Emporium is planning to set up a large warehouse in the United States to serve its customers in American countries efficiently.
India is in the nascent stage in terms of silver jewellery exports as the industry needs government policy support. A few years ago, India had a policy for duty drawback on silver which despite repeated reminders, exporters are yet to receive payment from the government.
“Such unfavourable policies prevent us from exports despite huge appetite for Indian jewellery in global markets,” said Mehta.
Meanwhile, India’s silver import too jumped four-fold in the last three years from 1900 tonnes in 2011-12 to 7954 tonnes in FY 2014-15.