Diamonds have and always will be a woman’s best friend, and who knows this better than the man who was with the industry for more than a decade. “Every diamond is as unique as a person’s fingerprint; in fact it is as unique as the person buying it,” says Prasad Kapre, ex-business director, Diamond Trading Corporation (DTC).
DTC, which was responsible for making diamonds a household name, started off their operations in India in 1995. “We spent many years doing research on both the consumer and trade side. On the consumer side we tried to understand the barriers to diamond purchase and from the trade aspect we tried to understand the barriers to growth,” says Kapre. With gold being the preferred metal, diamonds were thought to be for the “rich and the famous.” The biggest challenge Kapre says was educating people about diamonds.
“Eighty-eight percent of the women we spoke to told us that they wouldn’t know the difference between glass and diamonds, if they were asked to differentiate between the two. Price surprisingly wasn’t the issue but the primary concern was that they knew nothing about diamonds,” smiles the man who later conceptualised a popular diamond advertisement of Nakshatra with Bollywood’s leading lady, making diamonds a dinner-table discussion. “We also put in a lot of thought behind who should be the brand ambassador. We wanted someone who would enhance the brand and not detract from it. And Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was the perfect choice,” he says.
Another problem they realised were the designs. While people wanted a traditional look, the ones available in the market were contemporary and modern. “We wanted to give them consistency in designs. For example, a floral design is called kudajodi in West India, kodu down South and tadki in the North. We decided to bring all of it under one roof and that’s how Nakshatra was born,” says Kapre with a proud smile. “Also these designs were available only in rings but with Nakshatra we gave them necklaces, pendants, rings etc.”
After they gave the required hook for the consumers to enter the shop, the second problem they had to tackle was of the traders. “The biggest issue that traders faced was the smooth and continuous supply of diamonds. Consumers would come in and ask for VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included) diamonds but the shopkeepers had only VS (Very Slightly Included) because VVS wasn’t available when they was stocking up. We wanted to put a stop to this,” says Kapre, who is a member of the executive panel of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gems and Jewellery (FICCI). “FICCI is a quasi-judicial body that was started on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi in 1927. Under FICCI there are many sectors and one of them is Gems and Jewellery. It’s our duty to understand the barriers to growth and the solutions to get these barriers. We are the link between the industry and the government,” says Kapre. The man who finds “the jewellery industry very exciting” is also the brain behind Opulence, one of the leading brands for diamond jewellery in India. “At Opulence we believe in giving the best craftsmanship and the unique designs. Infact our ad campaign also promotes our designs as rare,endangered. We want to be the luxury diamond brand from India,” he signs off with a smile.