Gems and jewellery imports up by 8 pc in January

India's gems and jewellery imports rose 8 per cent to Rs 15,161 crore in January mainly on increased shipments of rough diamonds as purchases of gold bars and jewellery continued to fall due to government curbs, according to the industry body GJEPC.

The country had imported Rs 14,026 crore worth of gems and jewellery in the same month in 2013, it said.

According to data released by the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), gems and jewellery imports improved due to increased shipments of rough diamonds.

Rough diamond shipments rose 46 per cent to Rs 7,803.63 crore in January from Rs 5,358 crore in the year-ago period. Import of pearls jumped to Rs 469.28 crore from Rs 2.02 crore.

Import of gold bars fell 30 per cent to Rs 2,824.56 crore from Rs 4,037 crore in January 2013.

Inward shipments of gold jewellery declined 24 per cent to Rs 461.20 crore and import of colour gemstones fell over 79 per cent to Rs 113.33 crore.

Import of cut and polished diamonds declined 2.23 per cent to Rs 3,179.63 crore.

India meets its entire gold demand through purchases overseas. Gold is the second-largest imported item after crude oil. The government had imposed measures to curb gold imports to contain the current account deficit, which widened to a record in 2012-13.

The government hiked import duty on gold thrice to 10 per cent, banned inward shipments of gold coins and medallions and made it mandatory for importers to export 20 per cent of their shipments before purchasing more of the metal from overseas.

The curbs resulted in the jewellery industry facing a shortage of gold and traders have started quoting high premiums.

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