For Nirupa Bhatt, the intrigue and appreciation of the gemstone lies in its story. As the Managing Director for Gemological Institute of America in India and the Middle East, she is in a unique position, which enables her to dive into the history and impart the knowledge that very few women leaders in the jewellery industry possess, discovers Sharon Carvalho
How did your interest in gemmology start?
The jewellery industry thrives because of women and I am no exception. Personally, I love jewellery and I always have. My first job in the industry was with Rio Tinto, a global mining company, and during my tenure, I learned how the industry works from a mining point of view and how mother nature has created something so rare and unique. I became intrigued with the idea that every stone has a story and a character. Since I was based out of Mumbai, I was able to work at the ground level, where I established a network and created a rapport with the many players across the industry. My job helped me learn the technical capabilities of the manufacturing industry and about the marketing of diamonds.
What are the gemstone preferences in this region?
I think the Middle East is a very interesting market and the use of gemstones and pearls is amazing. There is a significant use of coloured stones, especially emeralds, with pearls. I believe the culture and heritage of pearl diving has an impact as well.
How does GIA work around seasonal demands?
GIA has locations across the globe, and with a strong workforce we are able to support manufacturers all year round.Typically, traders and retailers make their purchases four to six months in advance. Also, demand is spread throughout the year, for example, in UAE, September through November is the peak season for buying jewellery as Diwali and Eid fall during this period. But, in China, February is the buying season due to the New Year. Our mission is to ensure public trust in gems and jewellery. GIA’s presence worldwide helps us to fulfil this mission.
What work does GIA do to support local talent?
In this region, we support two jewellery design competitions. We believe that designers have the creativity to bring life to the gemstones and precious metals they work with. They are the soul of the industry and it is important for them to understand the history of the material they are working with. Designers can come to our classrooms to dive into the mysterious world of the gemstones and gain from the extensive research we have available.
What are your thoughts on the change in consumer behaviour?
I think, globally, the consumer profile has evolved. The way our mothers bought jewellery has changed and the way we shop is different. And I believe with this change in buying habits, the designer, manufacturer and retailer have to evolve as well. GIA plays a major role in educating the gem and jewellery industry worldwide. Research and education is our forte. GIA has also set standards for diamond grading and gemstone identification worldwide. While we don’t trade or sell, we are here to help the industry to enhance trade by providing education and grading services as per the standards set consistently across the world. We also help the consumer to develop confidence in the gemstone industry and the product they are buying.
What is the most expensive gem you have worked with?
I’ve seen some of the most beautiful stones while working in the Argyle diamond mines. As the largest source of pink diamonds, I have seen some deep purple-pink stones that are about three to four carats and of high quality. With regards to size, I have seen stones up to 100 carats. I haven’t worked with them directly, but I have seen them while working in the industry. I believe that, as consumers, we must appreciate nature’s gift. These stones have a finite production and the more you learn about them, the more you appreciate them.
The stone that intrigues you the most?
Pearls! Due of the purity involved. It is rare to find a beautiful pearl with luster, colour and finish. It’s something that only nature can create. The other stone I love is coloured diamonds!