Economy, Business And Markets

Gemstone Industry in Doldrums

Gemstone Industry in DoldrumsGemstone Industry in Doldrums

Iran is among the top ten countries worldwide in terms of the variety of precious and semi-precious stones. However, production has increasingly lagged behind the potential. The annual global gem trade fluctuates between $600 and $800 billion, of which Iran has a disappointing 0.5 percent.

Analysts believe while the firms have made significant progress in acquiring the latest grinding technologies in recent years, they have failed to promote Iranian gem brands globally due to lack of proper marketing strategies.

The gemstone industry is one of the few sectors in which the state has no stake. All precious stones are produced by private firms.

Presently, the private firms which mainly depend on turquoise extraction and export are finding themselves financially squeezed as foreign buyers were forced to look for other markets after the West tightened its sanctions on Iran over its nuclear energy program.

Gemstone manufacturers are now involved in a heated debate on whether and to what extent the state should interfere in their business. While some reject all kinds of state interference, others believe manufacturers should start to cooperate interactively with the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade, the Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs and the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourist Organization. According to these voices, cooperation could extend to creating new markets and developing the processing technologies.

Others believe manufactures should do more to reach international competitiveness. Mehdi Karbasian, the head of the Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development and Renovation (IMIDRO) –the major state-owned mining company and holding— in an interview with Eghtesad News argued that firms should improve their turn-over and production process in a way that the quality of the stone is preserved. He also emphasized that to increase competitiveness for the Iranian gemstones in global markets, the production costs need to be lowered somehow.