Exports in April 2017 stood at $3.31 billion, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India said. Major export destinations for the sector include Hong Kong, the UAE and the US. The three countries account for over 80 percent of the country's total exports of gems and jewellery. GJEPC vice chairman Colin Shah recently said the US is the largest consumer of diamonds and jewellery globally and the region is showing an upward trend.

Gems and jewellery contribute nearly 7 percent to the country's GDP and over 15 percent to the merchandise exports. The drop in outbound shipments in April is mainly due to negative growth in the export of silver jewellery, gold medallions and coins along with a sharp rise in the return of consignments. Representational image. Reuters.Representational image. Reuters. The industry has asked for support in terms of increasing incentives under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) to boost shipments. As per the data, silver jewellery shipments in April slumped 95.5 percent to $34.19 million.

Similarly, export of gold medallions and coins contracted by 87.6 percent during the month under review. However, total gold jewellery shipments went up 49 percent to $913 million during the period. Shipments of cut and polished diamonds too grew 14 percent in April. During the month, consignments worth $545.3 million were returned compared with $533 million in April 2017.

On the other hand, imports contracted by 24 percent in April to $2.35 billion. Imports of rough diamonds dipped by about 13 percent during the month. China is the biggest competitor of India in the sector. India's gems and jewellery exports contracted by 8 percent to about $32.72 billion in 2017-18. Gems and jewellery industry has urged bankers not to reduce their current credit limits as this would hamper and erode exports and employment creation.