Diamond people - the Palanpuri Jains of Gujarat, India's successful “business community

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 Palanpuri Jains – the diamond people are closely associated with diamond trades world over.The success behind India's lucrative diamond processing business are the Palanpuri Jains, natives of Palanpur village in Banaskantha district in Gujarat,West India. The famous  Ambaji temple is  55 km from here.The Jains are a historic and successful  “business community” and their main occupation is diamond trade and finance, and  are known for hard work, honesty, skill and entrepreneurshipPeople of this close-knit community of Palanpuri town have been actively involved in the diamond business for years carrying on their legacy of secrecy, honesty and informality and have built this highly expensive and risky business based on trust without any written agreement. Diamonds worth millions of dollars are traded on mere handshake, just verbal agreement, surprisingly with minimum security which is an impossible thing in western countries where heists occur frequently in downtown business areas.

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
India's modern diamond cutting industry was founded by several Jain families of Palanpur who, in 1909, decided to uplift their standard of life and of the poverty of their village. India's diamond industry, still dominated by Palanpuri Jains, who now process the majority of diamonds used in various jewelery.

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.