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FEATURE: RM Shah leaves no stone unturned as it marks six decades in business

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Longevity in most industries implies experience and reliability – and that’s certainly the case where R.M. Shah and the jewellery sector is concerned.

The rough gemstone wholesaler and distributor will chalk up 60 years in business during 2021, a remarkable achievement for a family business that now stretches back three generations.

While many well-known names that once shared a common goal with the company have headed for retirement or disappeared from the market altogether, it has no such intentions and is very much focused on harnessing the knowledge and integrity that it boasts to deliver maximum value for customers.

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“We are unique in that we have experience in and are involved in many areas of the industry,” says owner Nilesh Shah. “We buy rough emeralds, rubies and other gemstones direct from miners and we either sell or cut and polish these to our own specifications and under our own supervision.

“Additionally, as the only UK authorised auction partner of Gemfields, the UK-based emerald and ruby miner, we can buy responsibly-mined rough gemstones direct from the source. The responsible sourcing of gemstones, and full disclosure of any treatments, is a given when dealing with us.”

When Nilesh’s late father started trading in London in 1956 – five years before he set up the business – he only dealt in emeralds, rubies and sapphires, and these were mostly in commercial grades.

Over the following 25 years, as business took off, the company’s inventory grew to cover precious stones in all qualities and sizes.

By the time Nilesh joined the ranks in 1982, the company was ready to expand into bigger gems. Refocusing the business in that direction really set the tone for the operation that exists today.

“We started cutting the semi-precious rough we had been buying in Africa and South America, which until then we had been selling to cutters in Germany and India,” he explains. “Today, we stock some of the finest aquamarine in London as well as many other gemstones, most of which we have cut from the rough in Jaipur, India.

“Diamonds played a very small part in our business in the 1960s and 1970s, but today we have an excellent selection of old European cut diamonds, briolettes and rose cuts within our wide range.”

R.M. Shah, along with other gems merchants from around the world, was also instrumental in the creation of an international trade body to represent the interests of the industry.

Today, it is one of the limited number of International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) members with additional ‘accredited ethical member’ status and is proud to be able to participate in such important initiatives.

“Our membership has allowed us to make friends, contacts and build close relationships with not just gems dealers, but miners, jewellers and writers and experts in the field,” says Shah.

Turning his attention to what the rest of 2021 holds, Shah admits that the industry’s prospects for recovery, and the true impact of Brexit, remain difficult to gauge until the market fully reopens.

We stock some of the finest aquamarine in London as well as many other gemstones, most of which we have cut from the rough in Jaipur, India.”

“The coronavirus lockdown has meant that no one really knows what things are going to be like once we open up. However, we are confident that we will be busy, particularly with supplying unique gems to independent jewellers and designers.

“Bespoke jewellery will continue to very popular. Responsible sourcing has become extremely important in the last few years and that will be a key trend going forward.”

Like most firms, R.M. Shah is hoping to make up for lost time once restrictions are lifted. But it won’t stray from the philosophy that has kept it in business for so long.

“One goal is to ensure our many loyal European customers can continue to purchase from us as easily as possible despite Brexit, and we are fully prepared in this area.

“As a small family business, which until a few years ago never even advertised, perhaps not everyone is aware of the advantages of working with us and the expertise we can supply for all their gemstone and diamond requirements.”

What’s in a logo?

R.M. Shah’s logo represents and includes the company initials, as well as the three main areas of its jewellery activities:

– The emerald cut at the bottom represents coloured stones.
– The diamond is representative of its range of round and fancy shaped diamonds.
– The green colour is for emeralds, its first step into the industry 60 years ago.

The vertical lines incorporating the letter M, represent the crystal formation of the rough emerald as it is mined, highlighting its expertise and strength in the purchase and sale of rough gemstones, particularly emeralds.

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Sam Lewis

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