Rs243-cr central grant to IIT-Madras for lab-grown diamond research
09 March 2023
Union budget 2023-24 has extended a five-year research grant of Rs242.96 crore for one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to encourage indigenous production of lab-grown diamonds (LGD) machinery, seeds and recipe.
It has now been decided to give this project to IIT- Madras after a joint determination of its capabilities by a joint committee of government, export promotion council and industry representatives. It is proposed to establish an India Centre for Lab-grown Diamond (InCent-LGD) at IIT Madras with the estimated cost of Rs242.96 crore over 5 years.
Project appraisal committee chaired by commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal has recommended the proposal, which has been approved by the minister for commerce and industry, textiles, food and public distribution and consumer affairs Piyush Goyal. Budget support will be provided during the course of the next five years.
The aim of this project is to provide, in mission mode, technical assistance to the industries, and entrepreneurs in the country, in promote indigenous manufacturing of both chemical vapour deposition (CVD) and high pressure and high temperature (HPHT) systems along with the recipes for expanding the lab grown diamond (LGD) business at the upstream end. Research efforts would make the technology available for startups at affordable cost, increase employment opportunities, increase exports of LGD thus play a significant role in fuelling India’s economic growth.
The gems and jewellery sector plays a significant role in the Indian economy, contributing around 9 per cent to India’s total merchandise export. Over the past decade, there has been several positive developments in the gem and jewellery sector globally. One of the major technological developments in this sector has been laboratory-grown diamonds (LGD).
Besides the jewellery industry, lab-grown diamonds are used in computer chips, satellites, 5G networks as they can be used in extreme environments due to their potential to operate at higher speeds while using less power than silicon-based chips. LGD has vast applications in the fields of defence, optics, jewellery, thermal and medical industry.
Globally, the market stood at $1 billion in 2020, the lab-grown diamond jewellery market is expected to rapidly rise to $5 billion by 2025 and exceed $15 billion by 2035.
Lab grown diamonds are produced through two different technologies, namely High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition. India is one of the leading producers of lab grown diamonds using CVD technology. As per industry estimates, India’s share in global trade in the financial year 2021-22 was 25.8. However, we have to depend on other countries for the supply of critical machinery components and ‘seeds’ — which are the raw material for producing synthetic diamonds.
It is, therefore, imperative that India develops its own, indigenous technology for producing the critical machinery components seeds to remove the import dependence that we have in the case of natural diamonds. Good quality lab-grown diamonds with qualified certification, produced from the developed equipment and process parameters will attract many foreign customers increasing the export volume of lab-grown diamonds and scalability of production. The documented process parameters and the developed recipe will encourage new entrepreneurs to enter the lab-grown diamond business making it easier and cost-effective to set up the facility, start the business and generate employment.