We retrace the fascinating journey of Venus Jewel, the first Indian company to cut and polish large natural diamonds on a large scale paving the way for the country to become the world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre.
For a natural diamond, the journey of a billion years begins with a single speck. A speck of carbon, nestled deep in the confines of the earth, where it faces very unique circumstances that mould it for a path of invaluable greatness. For Venus Jewel, a pioneer in the Indian diamond cutting and polishing industry, the path to brilliance has been equally daunting, exhilarating, and rewarding as the tumultuous journey of a natural diamond we cherish today.
Humble beginnings A diamond is but a tiny rock at birth, whose journey is nothing short of remarkable.
Founded by brothers Sevantilal and Ramniklal Shah in 1969, Venus Jewel too began small—as any other diamond cutting firm in Surat. However, by the 1980s they realised that the Indian diamond industry had the potential to play a bigger role in the global market. They didn’t want to limit themselves to cutting small diamonds while all high-value gemstones were being cut in Israel, New York, or Belgium. Sevantilal Shah decided to take on the formidable challenge of becoming the first Indian manufacturer to polish diamonds that were two carats and above on a large scale.
Having attempted the unthinkable, Shah rewrote the rules of diamond cutting operations in the country by upskilling their workers and creating a world-class manufacturing environment. This was a defining moment in the history of the diamond industry, as Venus Jewel spearheaded a movement which has today positioned the country as the world’s leading source of large, polished gems.
Heat: A burning passion for excellence
Intense heat is the catalyst that helps carbon crystallise into a scintillating natural diamond. In the case of Venus Jewel, its steady growth was a result of the fiery passion the Shah brothers had to make India stand out in the diamond market. They were always zealously comparing quality standards to global manufacturers, trying to understand and meet the requirements of international buyers and motivating local artisans to upskill and create masterpieces that would put the country in a superior spot in terms of diamond cutting and polishing.
“We worked closely with our artisans and teams and went in-depth into various aspects to reinvent and redesign the most core operations of diamond cutting, thereby achieving greater efficiency, precision and the highest quality of finishing. It wasn’t just about polishing diamonds with 56 facets for us, it was about proving that India could excel in this field as well,” recalls Ramniklal Shah.
Such was the success of this endeavour, that several international companies came to India in the early ‘90s to source diamonds cut and polished by Venus Jewel and supply it to the rest of the world. They soon became an industry innovator, rewriting history by setting new standards in diamond polish quality, pricing, and ethical business practices.
Pressure: Withstanding the forces of nature Every glorious diamond we know takes its resilient form only after withstanding duress like no other.
When it comes to the challenges and pressures of being a pioneer in the diamond industry, Venus Jewel, has had its share of upheavals. They had to set up everything from scratch, from grading diamonds individually, evaluating them to selling online, sometimes requiring to change the -industry’s mindset too.
They decided to embrace state of the art technology to get a headway in the business by developing in-house, fully-integrated software in 1987 to aid the manufacturing processes and sale of polished diamonds. By 1997, they had even launched a B2B website, way before their competitors, to make the process of selling large diamonds online easier.
Time: Investing years to achieve perfection From rough to ready, natural diamonds are a product of time—running through many hands and visions over the years.
Over the years, Venus Jewel’s business model and their commitment to their society has evolved, creating more opportunities for them to empower communities. They were the first to elevate pay standards in the diamond industry in the 1970s and reward skilled workers with performance-based compensation. They were also lauded for being one of the few companies that managed to retain all their employees at full pay, during the global recession of 2008, when others were forced to halt production and furlough workers. Apart from steadily aiding their employees through years of financial ups and downs, Venus Jewel, has been doing its bit to extend support to various humanitarian activities across the country through its charitable trusts and myriad CSR activities. From raising relief funds after natural calamities to contributing to education funds for underprivileged children, they’ve left no stone unturned to give back to the society.
The most recent feather in their cap has been building a 201-bed multi-speciality hospital, Smt. Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital in Gujarat. The hospital has been providing quality healthcare since 2019, with a special COVID-19 care section added to it this year. This has been an initiative that is very close to the Shah family, as they aim to provide top-notch and highly trustworthy health services at minimal costs to as many people they can reach out to. “ Venus Jewel is a family-run company, so the emphasis has always been on building emotional bonds with the community. We started off by winning people’s trust with quality natural diamonds and now are striving to do the same with Smt. Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital. We want to always be the brand people can trust, in whatever we choose to do to serve the society,” says founder Sevantilal Shah.
As one of the forerunners in the natural diamond industry, Venus Jewel, has always known when to take the leap of faith in the business, pause for austerity, and most importantly, give back to society over the decades. They have been trailblazers of their time, having engaged in several revolutionary activities that makes them worthy of being compared to a priceless diamond, with a rich past and an ambitious future.