Gemstone Journeys: India

Saying goodbye to the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, it was time to journey to our last destination. Our lap of India was a true cross country tour: with visits planned to source lab grown diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds, and tourmalines, our gemstone journey was set to finish with a bang! 

Next Stop: Mumbai 

We touched down at Mumbai airport late on the 11th of March, heading straight to the hotel to get ready for the busy week ahead! As a country responsible for a large quantity of the gemstone trade worldwide, we were so excited for everything on the agenda (and also the food). 

The Diamond Capital of the World 

India is known as the diamond capital of the world, with over 90% of the world's diamonds passing through. Either by trade or to be cut and finished by skilled craftsmen!

Both Mumbai and Surat are well known for diamonds, but it looks like Surat is fast becoming the true diamond city. Many lab grown diamond manufacturers and lab and earth grown diamond trade centres have sprung up in recent years! 

While we had touched on lab grown diamonds back in Hong Kong, in India it was their time to shine. We made sure to set aside plenty of time for some salt and pepper diamond and tourmaline scouting too! 

The Diamond Bourse  

The Diamond Bourse is a bit of a mystery to anyone not involved in the diamond trade or jewellery world. With intense security and no visitors allowed inside, it is basically the gemstone equivalent of Wall Street, but with diamonds instead of stocks.

Manufacturing at its Best 

As part of our trip we were invited by one of our manufacturing contacts to come and visit their factory, so that they could demonstrate to us the Kaizen way of working! 

The major benefit to this process, is that individuals can train and focus their skills on one part of the jewellers craft! Each individual becomes a master in their own special skill group, be that setting, polishing, casting, or design. This results in a highly skilled group of people with well rounded expertise! 

Raising Our Standards

As Jessica Flinn moves into the future of jewellery, it is important for us to embrace new methods of working! Our team was super impressed by the level of tech available, the standards of working, and the quality of work they witnessed in Mumbai. 

It is important to acknowledge the UK perception of overseas factories, but this is why journeys like this are so key to education! What we found was a highly organised and skilled company of people, with much better working standards than we have sometimes seen back home. Going forward as we look to work with new and old suppliers, this is definitely a standard we will be holding them to!

“The ‘Kaizen’ way of working translates to continuous improvement. Teams work to high proficiency levels in individual rooms, each room focusing on one particular process before passing onto the next.  

Each department had a traffic light system in place. So if the lights were to flash amber or red in any room help would be on hand immediately! This could be for anything for advice on a tricky problem or anything urgent.”

- Grace, Senior Client Liaison

Moving Onto Surat 

Now we don't like to pick favourites, but we were definitely most excited for Surat. For one reason: diamonds! 

If India itself is the diamond capital, Surat is the diamond centre. Known for its strong connection to the diamond trade, it’s home to many diamond merchants and manufacturers, and is fast becoming the base for many lab grown diamond companies. 

Sourcing Salt and Pepper Diamonds

Surat is also home to our salt and pepper diamond suppliers! We have worked with this team for years, and it has always been a delight. They've been in business for decades, and are based in a building full of other gemstone suppliers, so there's a real vibe about the place!

They had such a large variety of salt and pepper diamonds for us to choose from, we were genuinely in heaven for a good few hours. Their stock always has an amazing range from icy white to dark black galaxy diamonds. Being able to look through all those salt and pepper diamonds and make sure we have the right range of stones for you was our goal! 

You can look through our loose gemstones to see what delights we brought back for you! 

“So part of the visit was to actually buy a bunch of stones! We wanted to see them in person, see their stock, and meet the team. They've always been so good to us! Their service is really great, but it's also really nice to put a face to a name. We were so excited to meet them, and what they achieve with their resources is amazing. I’m pretty sure one of their computers was older than I am! We did actually buy a hell of a lot of stones.” 

- Amy, Chief Operating Officer

Cutting Salt and Pepper Diamonds

Before we get to the exciting part of turning these stones into salt and pepper diamond engagement rings, they have to be cut! Stones are cut in a lapidary, usually by teams of talented craftsmen. 

Each station is usually focused on different stages of cutting. One team deals with pre cut, one facets, one polishes. Four craftsmen will usually share one machine, working in perfect rhythm. 

The number of salt and pepper diamonds that can be cut and finished each day varies depending on the complexity of the gemstone cut! Rose cut salt and pepper diamonds are the quickest gemstones to cut, as they have fewer facets (around 15-20 facets, compared to 57 facets on a radiant cut). And because they are sliced down the centre to create two rose cut salt and pepper diamonds in the end! 

Take a peek at some of our favourite salt and pepper diamonds we have sourced from our trip, and what we would do with them in Designing Our Dream Salt and Pepper Engagement Rings! 

Bespoke Salt and Pepper Diamond Rings

Once each spectacular salt and pepper diamond has been cut, polished and purchased, it's time for it to find it a forever home! If you’d love to know more about this process, check out Creating a Sapphire and Salt and Pepper Diamond Toi et Moi Ring. Where we take you through how we make a stunning Toi et Moi ring with stones sourced from our gemstone journey!

Lab Grown Diamonds 

Our next day in Surat we moved on from stormy salt and pepper diamonds to the clear sunshine of lab grown diamonds! Not only is Surat the source of an exciting secret project we are working on, it is also going to be the new home of India’s Diamond Bourse! 

The jewellery world is in the middle of a lab grown diamond obsession, and we are happy to encourage it! If you don't know where to start with lab grown gems you can check out our lab grown diamond guide. Or if you just like to look at shiny objects, check out our collection of lab grown diamond engagement rings.

What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?

If you aren't familiar with lab grown diamonds, they're basically chemically the same as earth grown diamonds, but were grown in a lab, not in the ground! 

There are two main methods of growing lab grown diamonds, but the one we were focused on was CVD! Back in Hong Kong we met Saichin, who kindly travelled to Surat from his home in Mumbai to show us around a 100% renewable energy lab grown diamond factory! 

Renewable Energy Lab Grown Diamonds 

But what does a renewable energy lab grown diamond mean? Well, like everything else in our modern world, lab grown diamonds take a lot of tech and electricity to grow! And all of that energy has to come from somewhere. 

As part of our commitment to sustainability and conscious sourcing, we have been on the lookout for suppliers who can offer this level of renewable energy in their production methods. Saichin’s company uses 90% solar energy and 10% wind for their lab grown diamond factory, and the entire campus!

As we were guided around their campus, it was like we had reached eco-diamond disney land. You can read all about our exclusive look at eco-powered lab grown diamonds and get some hints about our new collection in Sunshine Power: 100% Green Energy Lab-Grown Diamonds.

Lab Grown Diamond Engagement Rings

Jaipur & Agra 

Next we were onto the pink city: Jaipur! As lovers of everything bright and bold (and especially everything pink), we were so excited to visit a city covered in this fabulous colour! If you’d like to turn your jewellery box into your very own pink city, shop our collection of Barbie engagement rings!

Sourcing Tourmalines

The city may be pink, but in Jaipur we were on the hunt for something green! 

For us, having a consistent supply of our most exciting gems is super important. We want you to have the stones you fall in love with, even if they’re tricky to acquire! 

Optix cut tourmalines are the green gemstone we are searching for! With such a unique cut in such an amazing colour it's no surprise that they are one of our best sellers, but like all of our alternative gemstone options, the supply is limited. 

Optix Cut Tourmalines

But, because we are amazing, we have found an equally amazing supplier! After creating ethereal optix cut tourmaline engagement rings for years, it was time to meet the fantastic people behind these fascinating gemstones in person. 

As the optix cut is such a specialist technique, the tourmaline team do everything in house. Unlike cutting the gems on a flat disk like normal gemstones, optix cuts are done with a cylinder. And because our supplier does everything in house, this means that we can order custom cuts! So keep an eye out for some extra exciting tourmaline engagement rings.

The Last Stop

After all that work it was only fair that we made one last stop for some sightseeing. We headed to Agra, and on our last day we got up bright and early to see one of the wonders of the world (and gemstone craftsmanship): the Taj Mahal.

Featuring carved flowers made of Carnelian, Malachite, Onyx, and Citrine, it really is a testament to what can be achieved with the materials that we are so privileged to work with. 

If you would like your own floral gemstone masterpiece, our Botanicals collection is waiting for you!

“Wow, this was just such a special moment. We got up at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds and it was absolutely worth it. I loved finding out about the history, the length of time, and craftsmanship it took to build it was just mind blowing. As a trained Jeweller who has worked with these materials in the past I was just in awe of the work involved.”

- Grace, Senior Client Liaison

Home Again

This journey was so much more than a list of places to visit. We set out to educate ourselves about the suppliers we work with, the communities they support, the sustainability of the processes we use. 

As a business Jessica Flinn will move forward with the ability to make conscious choices to better support our communities! We have so many plans in the works, and we hope you are as thrilled as we are to be moving into a well informed and sustainable future! Of course, with as many stunning designs as we can!

If you’d like to recap our journey, you can scout out suppliers with us in Hong Kong, or join us in sapphire heaven in Sri Lanka. Or, if you’re ready to start your own gemstone journey, you can book an appointment with our fabulous team! We can’t wait to see you! 

Book an Appointment

Still searching for your dream ring? We can help make that dream a reality with our custom and bespoke services. You can customise one of our existing designs, swapping out gemstones for ones that speak to you or changing the metal type. Or with our bespoke service, you're able create a ring that is completely unique to you. So whether you want a custom engagement ring or a bespoke engagement ring, at Jessica Flinn we have you covered. Book an appointment to begin the process and create your dream ring.