|Map of the Palanpur region,Gujarat,India.en.wikipedia.org|
|The Ambaji Mata Temple is situated in Banaskantha district of Gujarat.www.walkthroughindia.com|
The highly successful people have set up diamond polishing, cutting and sales centers in Antwerp, Belgium, Tel Aviv, Israel, USA and China. Surat is indisputably a major diamond cutting center in the world handling any size from less than 5 points to 5 carats besides bigger stones. The Surat center has been processing unpolished bigger diamonds in the past few years. The Palanpuri Jains have turned the scattered cottage industries into a Rs 80,000.00 crore enterprise.
|Kirti Stambh of Palanpur.en.wikipedia.org|
Jains began to arrive in Antwerp in 1970s, the world’s biggest trading hub for rough diamonds and their first foray into Antwerp was based on capital and prior experience on the polishing side of the diamond trade in India. Antwerp, the world's gem city where raw diamonds are traded, has 60 percent Indians in the cut and polished diamond trade and most of them are Palanpuri Jains. Previously the industry was dominated by Jewish traders.
Palanpuri Jains were successful in Antwerp, ''because of new technique of cutting and polishing diamonds introduced by us - Palanpuri Jains in Antwerp," according to Manoj Mehta, diamond merchant of Antwerp, who was in Ahmadabad on a visit said.
Polishing the dust, or small diamonds 100 pieces in one carat, in the Antwerp gem market was ignored by Europeans as they were not familiar with that delicate work. Palanpuri jains developed special technique to convert unpolished diamond dust to valuble diamond pieces of dazzling beauty.The jain merchants bought the diamond dust in bulk and had them processed in Surat,India where the labor costs are cheaper and this has given them the added advantage over others in the competitive world of diamond trading at Antwerp. The finished diamonds are traded in Antwerp.
The Jains have now expanded their business to such an extent, that in the latest elections to the Antwerp World Diamond Center in 2012, five out of the six representatives elected to the board were Gujarati. In 2014, a Gujarati businessman was nominated vice president.
It is a male dominated lucrative business, but daughters are not encouraged to enter the diamond trade. Further, they do not take keen interest in this challenging business and many Jain traders claim that after marriage, women drop out and are least interested in this business.
'Derasar', or a Jain temple of Antwerp built by the Jain Community is believed to be the biggest and costliest temple of the world with gems studded in its walls.
The Katiawadi Patels form yet another Gujarati community and are equally competent diamond traders whose foray into diamond industry was late and now they have their own diamond processing factories in Surat and trading offices in Antwerp.
The palampuri Jain community are a proud people who have made a niche for themselves in a competitive and risky business such as diamond processing industry through sheer guts, hard work, business acumen and this enterprising community is a good example to other Indian communities.
That, any community by dint of collective hard work can achieve success in life, is true in the case of the proud people from Palampur, Gujarat. Palampur Jains dazzle like diamonds, so are their spirits of hardwork and adaptability.
Tribal women and diamond cutting:
Another interesting aspect is a lot of well trained tribal people including women are increasingly being employed in the diamond cutting and polishing business for which the Surat diamond traders have set up polishing and cutting centers in the tribal areas of Ahwa, Vengal, Mandvi,etc in Maharastra. To day more and more tribal women are actively involved in this lucrative business drawing guidance and inspiration from the Palanpuri Jains - the masters in diamond business who add dazzling beauty and splendor to earthy diamonds from Mother Earth's womb.