Diamond Kings of India: Six Business Tycoons Controlling 70000 Crore Industry

The top shareholders in India’s Rs 70,000 crore diamond sector, the diamond monarchs, are as hidden as their products are glistening. The six diamond tycoons profiled here are India’s most significant diamond traders.

From Nirav Modi, who began his creative journey by designing an earring for a friend, to Mavji Bhai Patel, who grew to become India’s largest diamond exporter while vehemently rejecting the notion of “individual success story”; from Mehul Choksi, who founded one of the biggest diamond company in India, Gitanjali Group, and began his career in diamonds and jewellery as a teenager and conquered the peaks of branding, to Dharmesh Shah, who simply wants to double his turnover every five years, to Ashok Gajera and Russell Mehta

Nirav Modi (Firestar Diamonds)

Nirav Modi was born in a Belgium-based diamantaire family. At 19, he was sent to Mumbai to learn business basics from his uncle Mehul Choksi, the founder and chairman of Gitanjali Group. After a decade with Gitanjali Gems, Neerav decided to make his path in the business of precious gems.

Hence, the journey of this trader of the finest and the rarest diamonds has begun. With his youngest brother Neeshal, Nirav started buying pink diamonds from Argyle, yellow diamonds from Sierra Leone, and white stones from Russia and Armenia. Slowly and gradually, he empowered Firestar Diamonds and anchored its name globally in the rare diamond market.

Mavji Bhai Patel (Kiran Gems Private Limited)

In a family business where your name is your identity, managing director Mavji Bhai Patel is a breath of fresh air. Mr. Patel says, “My father was a cotton farmer in the Bhavnagar area of Gujarat, where he lived in a community of 500 people. We’re first-generation business owners”.  Vallabhbhai S Patel, his elder brother, moved to Mumbai and founded the company in 1985 with some seed capital from his father. Mavji, who was a fresh commerce graduate at that time, soon joined his elder brother.

Despite beginning from the grass route level, Kiran Gems is India’s top diamond and jewellery exporter company. With an army of 30,000 artisans handling over 5 million carats in rough diamonds each year, it is also the diamond industry’s largest employer.

Mehul Choksi (Gitanjali Group)

Even as a teenager, the 53-year-old had a clear goal: to become the world’s most significant luxury player in branded jewellery. After his father, Chinubhai Choksi, died in 1985, Mehul Choksi joined the business in 1975 and took over the company worth 50 crores. Chinhubhai had founded the firm, which he named Gitanjali after his two daughters, Gita and Anjali.

Today Gitanjali’s portfolio consists of numerous brands, including D’damas, Asmi, Nakshatra, Maya, Gili, Diya, and Sangini. Also, the company has acquired many US and Italian brands.

Dharmesh Shah (Asian Star Company)

Asian Star Company was founded in 1971, when three cousins Dinesh Shah, Arvind Shah, and Probodh Shah, established a diamond processing unit in Surat. In 1990, the second generation of Shah’s took over the company. Dharmesh Shah was appointed as joint MD and CFO, while Vipul Shah became the MD and the chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.

When Dharmesh took up the responsibilities, the turnover of Asian Star was 350 crore; in FY21,  that figure stood at Rs. 2450 crores.

Ashok Gajera (Laxmi Diamond)

Vasant Gajera, Ashok Gajera’s older brother, founded Laxmi Diamond 40 years ago. Vasant is situated in Surat, whereas Ashok is based in Mumbai to handle the sales and marketing of the Laxmi Diamond. The firm purchases rough diamonds, polishes and ships them to the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Ashok joined the company in 1986, shortly after the firm’s Mumbai headquarters opened, and believes that sourcing is the most crucial aspect of being a solid player in the market. Mining companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP, and Diavik Diamond Mines are the regular sources of Laxmi Diamond.

Russell Mehta (Rosy Blue, India)

Belgium-based Rosy Blue is one of the largest diamond jewellery firms in the world and owns the retail brand Orra. B Arunkumar, a privately held corporation, has been in business for more than 50 years. Rosy Blue Antwerp began expanding into global diamond distribution and sourcing in 1973, with Dilip Mehta at the lead.

Today, Rosy Blue is made up of two legal entities: one based in India, Rosy Blue (India), and the other, Rosy Blue investments Sarl, active in the rest of the world. The Rosy Blue trade brand is used by all of the firms that operate within these organisations. Russel Mehta, the managing director of Rosy Blue (India), is successfully holding the flag of the Mehta Family, who are the grand veterans of the industry.

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