A slice of Kolkata in Dubai’s jewellery markets.

Over the past few years Dubai, the nerve-centre of UAE’s gem trade, has established itself as an important global player in diamond trading, diversifying from its traditional status as a gold hub. It is now ranked the world’s fourth largest diamond trading hub, after Antwerp, New York, and Mumbai.

According to the Kimberly Process, a research body with a commitment to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain, the UAE imported US$5.44bn in rough diamonds in 2015 and exported US$7.56bn (a slight dip from 2014, but a massive increase from the US$1.5 and US$2.3bn figures recorded 10 years ago).

While its geographical advantages make it the ideal base for international trade, particularly in emerging markets in the East, it is also developing a niche for high-quality manufacturing, particularly for high-precision diamond jewellery usually set in 18K gold – a mainstay for most businesses such as Cara. This is where the artistic talents of Kolkata’s famed karigars (craftsmen) come into play.

While decades of communist rule had left the economy of the once-wealthy state of West Bengal on its knees, with traditional industries flagging and little innovation to make up for it, the enduring gems and jewellery industry provides a glimmer of hope.

Not only are these karigars now an essential cog in the manufacturing wheel of the UAE, it is estimated that more than 50 per cent of the jewellery manufactured in Kolkata is exported. And with the Middle East among the top three markets for the gems and jewellery sector alongside the US and UK, the capital is in prime position to take advantage.

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