17:36 GMT28 November 2020
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    If there are three things that most Indians today are fascinated by, they are – engineers, technology, and shiny diamonds. Somewhere in Surat, an Indian city situated on the banks of the river Tapi, four engineers got together and amalgamated technology with diamonds to make for a success story.

    Chintan Gujrati, Manoj Miyani, Riken Gabani, and Chintan Goplani – four 28-year-old friends, all engineers, have recently made it to the headlines after launching India's first platform dedicated to people associated with the country's lustrous diamond industry.

    The app named "Diamond Merchant", that launched in September 2020, aims to connect traders selling diamonds to jewelers who craft sparkly ornaments out of them – with no national or international barriers restricting the flow of business.

    Sputnik got in touch with the quartet from Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, who said that just like all great ideas are inspired by real life stories, theirs was too.

    Born and raised in Bhavnagar, the boys with parents associated with Gujarat's world-renowned diamond industry, grew up watching their families invest so much effort to connect with the right people.

    "We are building India's own diamond trading platform so that small and medium diamond cutters, polishers, traders can directly sell polished diamonds to jewelers across the globe. For years, our ancestors had been selling their finished goods, polished diamonds, to local markets like Mumbai and the diamond capital of India, Surat. We began thinking about the business struggles of small and medium diamond merchants like our parents and decided to do something about it", Chintan Gujrati told Sputnik.

    The market research accumulated by the team over two years highlighted that given India's massive capacity for diamond polishing, traders in the country urgently required a dedicated platform. The city of Surat in Gujarat is the world's biggest diamond polishing and processing hub. It contributes 80 percent of the total processed diamonds that India exports to places like the US, Hong Kong, and China every year.

    In fact, eight out of ten diamonds in the world are processed in India’s Surat, known for its $24 billion diamond industry.

    Life Finally Led Them to Their 'Eureka' Moment

    Back when the internet wasn’t around to save the day, diamond merchants in India struggled to connect with people in their industry on a large scale. Since the business involved trading in the expensive jewel, these merchants restricted themselves to connecting with only trustworthy jewelers from their local areas.

    Not only did this keep business limited, other factors like working with lesser capital and with a limited variety of diamonds also acted as extremely problematic issues that these engineers watched their parents battle.

    After completing their respective engineering courses from the Shantilal Shah Engineering College (SSEC) in Bhavnagar, the four friends started brainstorming to find a venture that would not only solve the woes of people around them, but could also be their big breakthrough.

    Drawing inspiration from the struggle of their parents, two years ago at the age of 26, Gujarati, Goplani, Gabani, and Miyani took it upon themselves to create a platform for diamond merchants, artisans, and jewelers from around the world to connect with each other. Indian diamond merchants never had a platform, that is until now. The friends' big 'Eureka' had finally arrived.

    Technology Just Got a Touch of Bling

    A shiny new app for blingy diamonds shone up the Android and iOS app stores in two languages, English and Gujarati.

    "Most of the diamond manufactures and traders in India are based out of Gujarat so they feel very comfortable communicating in their native dialect", Gabani, one of the four "appsketeers" told Sputnik.

    Within the first month of its launch, the app garnered registrations from over 5,000 diamond traders, wholesalers, and jewelers from India, South Africa, Europe, Japan, and Turkey.

    "Across the world, the diamond industry completely runs on reference and trust. Traders and jewelers can call or chat with each other using this application without any mediator. People can get more demand, more variety, more parties from this application. Buyers can post their demands and sellers can post their stocks. A special app feature called 'Mutual Friend' also allows the buyers and sellers to look for common references between them (if any), so that they feel more comfortable entering into business together", Gabani said.

    Aiming to raise investment to expand the app, the four are working on a business model that also pivots the perspective of the app taking into consideration the requirements of jewelers as well.

    "The team is also working with jewelers to understand their requirements. We also want to develop a desktop version of the platform and also want to onboard the domestic as well as global jewelers community", Gabani added, revealing the future plans for their platform.

    Harsh Realities

    Despite Surat being the largest diamond polishing and processing centre in the world, employing over 750,000 workers in around 5,000 factories – 90 percent of the sector remains unorganised in the city, and the country at large.

    These recent months of the coronavirus pandemic have further worsened the situation for India's billion dollar diamond industry, Demand for these expensive jewels has witnessed a sharp downfall.

    The four friends from Bhavnagar, Gujrat – who saw their parents and thousands of diamond traders around them restricted to the borders of their states and nation – have just started, they say. In the wider picture, they are working every day to help make the world a brighter place to live. 

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