||The Retail Jeweller
Absence of set standards, ethical code and transparency in coloured stone industry impelled Gemstoneuniverse to launch the first of its kind, exclusive boutique store for natural, treatment free coloured gems for planetary gem therapy in Bengaluru. In an interview with The Retail Jeweller, Abhijita Kulshrestha, Director - Gemstoneuniverse speaks about the importance of establishing trust by creating benchmarks in coloured stone retailing and the role of astrology in expanding the growth of coloured stone market in India.
The Retail Jeweller (TRJ): Opening a 3000 sq. ft. spacious store in India exclusively on coloured gemstone could be termed as one of the most adventurous moves in
jewellery retail. What kind of market insight gave you such confidence?
Abhijita Kulshrestha (AK): There is a wide variety of potential clientele that is serious when it comes to buying coloured gemstones. Unfortunately, the nature of trade has remained very arbitrary and disorganized. There are no set standards that foster customers' trust. Gemstoneuniverse endeavors to deliver real value to the clients. We are following strict ethical codes that are setting new benchmarks. Moreover, the increasing base has been a big indicator that we are headed in the right direction.
TRJ: Majority of consumers in India still connect coloured stone with astrology. You too are leveraging that aspect. Does it limit the growth of the category in any way?
AK: Gemstoneuniverse Is an organization dedicated to planetary gemology, which has its roots in astrology. The interest in astrology actually supports the trend of coloured stone buying in India. Indians are of course moving far from the mindset that coloured stones devalue the precious metal in jewellery. Sometimes, the cost of the gem may outdo the cost of the entire weight of precious metal! What it completely depends on though, is that the buyer be discerning about the quality, origin and certification of the gems used in the jewellery.
TRJ: In your experience so far, what kind of situations have lead the customer into buying the stones?
AK: Interest, connoisseurship, search for a breakthrough in tough times in career, finances, relationships through planetary gem therapy, idea of investment value upsurge manifold are some basic reasons for people looking at natural coloured gemstones with much greater interest. There are all kinds of people, from all walks of life with all kinds of issues, seeking astrological remedies in coloured gems. We also have the creme de la creme of the society looking at coloured gems as investments.
TRJ: Do you see the younger generation taking to the science of astrology? What are the demographics of customers who buy from your outlet?
AK: Indeed yes, I must say that the younger generation is much more awake, alive and curious. They ask questions and persist till satisfied. They do not take on a belief system just because it was handed down. What the previous generations have generally taken for granted, the younger generation is much willing to explore and find answers. The serious buyers are aged 25 years and upwards.
TRJ: What's the consumer perception towards gemstones right now?
AK: It is quite an awakening for customers when they realize (not when we tell them) that diamonds may not be the most precious gems and that the big three (rubies, sapphires and emeralds) routinely outpace diamonds in terms of value. More and more customers are awakening to the wealth potential of coloured gems. The big three - rubies, sapphires and emeralds are where the ROI is very high and therefore, the interest in these gems is also higher. We are witnessing interest from people who are looking at coloured gems as long term investment options.
TRJ: What are the barriers that you come across while dealing in the category?
AK: People are skeptical towards coloured gemstones because it's hard to differentiate a genuine from a synthetic or a stimulant. People are also conditioned negatively because of their bad past experiences where they have been exploited by fly-by-night operators inducing a false fear playing on personal beliefs promising the earth and the sky and much more. Mistrust and bad image created by disorganized players is quite detrimental. Lack of ..