27 Feb 2009
A Cut Above(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,2009)
S GoldI (Asia) Ltd
"Diamonds beyond imagination, values beyond expectation," is the promise of India-based diamond company Shree Ramkrishna Export, which is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced suppliers of its kind in the country.
One of the cornerstones of its success has been a consistently international outlook, which has seen the company's Mumbai head office open branches in Belgium, Israel, New York and Dubai in addition to its manufacturing operation in Surat, where around 92% of the world's diamonds are cut and polished.
Since 2004, however, its principal marketing arm in Asia has been S Goldi (Asia) Ltd in Hong Kong. "Hong Kong is one of the world's most important diamond trading centres, so you have to have an office here," states S Goldi's Senior Manager Shailesh Khunt. "There are also important exhibitions held here for jewellery and diamonds, so you get buyers from many markets - Australia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand for example."
The Hong Kong office is part of a long-term strategic plan that has seen Shree Ramkrishna Export, which was established in 1976 and opened its first marketing affiliate in Belgium in 1997, increasingly focus on buyers in East Asia in recent years.
It has also established an affiliate on the Chinese mainland - R Goldi Shanghai Diamond Co Ltd - to support the Hong Kong office in addressing the increasingly important Chinese market.
"We have an office in India which buyers visit, but we also felt it was necessary to have an office in Hong Kong to enhance our service to our customers," Mr Khunt explains.
He believes it is easier for people from East Asia to do business with the firm in Hong Kong, and stresses that S Goldi is committed to providing "the best possible service" for customers. "The Shanghai office can supply customers in Beijing, and nobody has any problem about visiting Shanghai," Mr Khunt states.
He credits the company's far-flung network of offices with allowing it to reach a diversified customer base of jewellery manufacturers, retail traders, chain stores and small independent stores.
The Hong Kong and China representative branches further extend that reach. "Our Hong Kong customers come mainly from China, Japan, Vietnam, Australia and Korea," Mr Khunt observes.
S Goldi sells mostly to jewellery manufacturers, but also sometimes to diamond traders. "Turnover value is variable on a monthly basis, but around US$700,000 would not be unusual," Mr Khunt adds.
The Hong Kong office is also the control centre for an intensive programme of regional promotional activity for the company's diamonds, with S Goldi focusing largely, though not exclusively, on participation in the most prestigious trade shows.
"We participate in exhibitions in Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai, while our mother company also participates in exhibitions in India," Mr Khunt explains. "Buyers can also look at the website, which can save them a lot of time."
The company is about to finalise a new Hong Kong-based website www.sgoldi.com, which will supplement the company's existing www.srkexport.com site. "We offer an online stock of more than 6,000 certified diamonds," Mr Khunt notes.
Nevertheless, it is manufacturing excellence which has positioned Shree Ramkrishna among the top 10 companies in the Indian diamond industry.
As long ago as 2000 the group achieved ISO 9001 certification, and it has also won other awards for excellence in the export and cut of polished diamonds.
Shree Ramkrishna, Mr Khunt stresses, has a firm commitment to advanced technology and continual product innovation that has helped it remain competitive in a changing and sometimes fickle market.
"While the stones themselves never go out of style, a successful supplier of cut and polished diamonds needs to be in tune with fashion at all times," he stresses.
The highest product quality is also a critical requirement during periods of economic uncertainty, when people may be thinking twice about investing in precious stones.
"The current economic conditions affect all diamond companies, and global diamond prices are not stable as people are scared to buy," Mr Khunt observes. "The US market in particular is not good, and that drives other markets."
The Chinese market is good for S Goldi, but he notes it also has economic problems and points out that nobody yet knows the effect on the diamond market. "Diamonds are not like gold," he concedes. "You cannot turn them into cash so easily."
He remains confident, however, that the reputation S Goldi and Shree Ramkrishna enjoy for product excellence and effective, hassle-free customer service will allow the group to maintain its competitive edge. "Our motto is to provide comfort and satisfaction and we will continue to do so regardless of market conditions," Mr Khunt concludes.
TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE