Will History Repeat Itself? Surat Diamond Bourse Appoints Arvind Shah, Aiming to Lure Mumbai Traders

Shah's appointment follows the resignation of Vallabh Lakhani, chairman of Kiran Gems, who also served as the chairman of the Surat Diamond Bourse


Surat : The Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) has ignited whispers of déjà vu with the appointment of Arvind Shah of Dhanera Diamonds as the president of the Surat Diamond Bourse Service Co-operative society. Shah inherits the task of attracting Mumbai’s diamond trade to Surat, a mission that saw the previous president, Nagji Sakaria of HVK Diamond, resign from the SDB committee. This latest move raises concerns about the SDB potentially repeating past missteps.

“The appointment of Arvind Shah feels like history repeating itself,” said a prominent Surat-based diamantaire, who wished to remain anonymous. “We saw this exact scenario unfold with Mr. Sakaria, who ultimately stepped down.”

Shah’s appointment follows the resignation of Vallabh Lakhani, chairman of Kiran Gems, who also served as the chairman of the Surat Diamond Bourse. Lakhani’s tenure was marked by a concerted effort to lure Mumbai’s diamond community to Surat. This included Lakhani himself relocating his entire diamond operation from the Bharat Diamond Bourse and even constructing housing for his employees near the SDB.

“Mr. Lakhani went above and beyond to attract Mumbai traders,” commented another diamond industry insider. “He offered brokerage discounts, sent messages directly to Mumbai, and even relocated his business. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”

Lakhani’s efforts were met with resistance from the Mumbai diamond lobby, ultimately leading to his resignation from the SDB chairmanship. Industry experts are now watching closely to see if Shah can succeed where his predecessors failed.

Surat Diamond Bourse has appointed Govind Dholakia, BJP Rajya Sabha MP and founder chairman of Shree Ramkrishna Export as the chairman. The SDB wants to capitalise on Dholakia for the political and social connections and ensure that the SDB is up and running by May 2024. The SDB committee has forecasted that about 500 diamond offices will be operational by May 2024.

“The challenge of attracting Mumbai remains formidable,” acknowledged a diamond analyst. “Mumbai has a long-established diamond ecosystem, and convincing traders to uproot themselves won’t be easy. Mr. Shah will need a fresh approach that addresses the specific needs of Mumbai’s diamantaires.”

The SDB boasts the title of the world’s largest diamond trading hub, yet Mumbai continues to be a dominant player in the industry. Whether Shah can bridge this gap and fulfill the SDB’s ambitions remains to be seen. Only time will tell if history repeats itself, or if a new chapter is written in the ongoing competition between India’s diamond capitals.