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Q&A: Uniglo gives a behind-the-scenes look at life at its production facilities

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Global diamond manufacturing company Uniglo Diamonds boast clients in Europe and America as well as production facilities in Antwerp and India.

Here the company’s director, Suraj Poddar, chats Uniglo’s illustrious 30-year history, goes in-depth on what technology it uses behind the scenes, and talks the future of the industry. 

Uniglo has now been operating for more than 30 years. Can you give us an idea of the scale of the business today and the pace at which you have grown?

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After more than 30 years in the diamond industry, we have achieved a good and recurring set of customers originating from Europe and the United States.

Uniglo has become well-known for its quality cuts and loose stones, which are sorted as per the GIA standards. We offer all kinds of diamonds: round, emerald, fancy, yellow and colorless. All cuts, shapes, colours and sizes are available for our customers.

We have adapted to the current market where customers want a good and fast service. Since all our stones are in stock in Antwerp, we can offer a one- or two-day delivery.

Each certified stone has a 360° view option on our inventory app or through the browser, resulting in many customers buying without viewing the stone.

We highly believe in transparency towards the customers, which benefits both parties.

You’re based in Antwerp and have production facilities in India, allowing you to serve the global market place. How important has the UK market been to your business historically?

We have indeed a setup that allows us to cater to customers around the world. The UK is also an important market for us, where we have a good set of customers.

Our customer base in the UK has grown bigger over the years, thanks to our certified, uncertified diamonds and our fast delivery. We have quite a good understanding of what the UK customers are looking for so we can offer them the right stones.

What opportunities do you see for your business in the UK during 2021 and beyond – and what would your message be to prospective customers or partners?

We have a lot of growth potential in Europe and the United States, for the next few years we would like to emerge to other countries as well. We will always improve ourselves and adapt to our customers’ needs.

Our strong point and the message we would like to communicate to potential clients is that we have many different stones, ranging from small commercial cuts to fancy cuts and special colours. ]

The customer has no need to look at different diamond companies, they can find all that they are looking for at Uniglo. Additionally, the gemological industry is our passion, and we are determined to meet our clients’ expectations.

You operate world-class diamond cutting facilities – tell us about the sort of infrastructure you have in place and the investments you have made on this front?

We have close connections with some important diamond mines. After being mined the rough diamonds are brought to our diamond cutting offices.

Uniglo Diamonds has chosen to have two diamond cutting centres: one in India and one in Antwerp.

While most diamonds are cut in India, the most expensive and exclusive rough diamonds are brought to Antwerp to cut them.

We have carefully invested in the latest technologies and machines such as the Sarin machine, M screen machine, and our team consists of skilled workers with each more than 20 years of experience in cutting diamonds.

Every three months our diamond cutters educate themselves about the latest technologies in the diamond industry.

We use two high-tech and innovative machines at Uniglo: the Sarine machine and M screen machine.

The Sarine machine is a machine which is able to take an accurate 360 degree scan and images of diamonds followed by a specific analysis, based on an extensive range of parameters.

After the scan, the machine is able to determine the best cut and recut options to ensure the highest potential of the stone.

The M Screen machine is a highly sophisticated machine that is made to screen and sort a large number of small brilliants at a very high speed, three diamonds per second to be exact. The high-tech machine can also differentiate natural from lab-grown diamonds.

Since the pandemic we have understood the importance of inhouse production even more. We have made sure to have everything close so we can provide our customers at any time.

Since it has become more difficult to travel, we have special photography and vasography instruments to portray the diamonds and send to potential clients. We constantly adapt to the market.

The loose diamond market is incredibly competitive – how do you seek to differentiate your business?

The loose diamond market is indeed extremely competitive, but with many rising concerns about quality there is a need for a trustworthy and established brand.

With more than 30 years of experience in the diamond business, we are able to guarantee the customers that we know this market through and through.

We constantly aim to be the best and never stop innovation on different levels. Within the house of Uniglo we have many people with a lot of experience in the diamond industry.

We care a lot about quality, trust, integrity and transparency, and we always try to live up the to client’s expectation.

Lastly, we are not only situated in the diamond capital, Antwerp, but we also have ties to the diamond mines, making it very easy to find exactly what the client is looking for. This combined with our in-house manufacturing ensures we can offer the best prices to our customers.

Uniglo operates a large online inventory. How large is this inventory and what functionality does it offer to users?

Our large online inventory is one of our precious assets. Everyone can immediately consult our online inventory through the browser or our new application.

We have more than 10,000 different diamonds, ranging from small commercial stones to top cut diamonds in both white and fancy colours. Additionally, we also have a selection of high-quality lab-grown diamonds.

Our Uniglo application, available through the App Store or Google Play, allows you to browse through our stones, view it with a 360° angle, view all the specifications, properties and certificates if applicable. By using the filters, you can easily narrow the search down and look for something specific.

The main advantage of our large inventory is that our clients who are looking for multiple stones can find them all at one business. There is no longer a need to contact different business to find what they are looking for.

How significant is the online inventory in respect of your business today? Does it account for the majority of trading you do – or are trade customers reluctant to source online?

Our online inventory is one of our assets and the online sales transactions make up for about 50% of our business. It has become very easy to buy online as we can list all the characteristics of a certain diamond.

What trends are you expecting to shape the diamond industry this year? How dramatically has the pandemic impacted the business?

During the pandemic we have learned a lot of valuable lessons. Because of our in-house manufacturing and large inventory, we have been able to carry on our business.

What is noticeable is that diamond prices have kept on increasing, even during the pandemic. There are of course, loads of ups and downs in the diamond business, but diamonds are still a great investment, and we believe prices will never collapse.

What future do you see for natural diamond supply – especially given the momentum that seems to be building from the lab-grown side of the market?

In our opinion the natural diamond industry will always be very active and although the diamonds- supply might slow down a little bit, people will always understand the value of a natural diamond.

Lab-grown diamonds are indeed great alternatives for natural diamonds, especially for people who have a smaller budget.

The lab-grown diamonds, however, will never be able to replace the natural diamond industry. We believe lab-grown diamonds are a great opportunity for lower budgets but will eventually be replaced by moissanites.

What one thing would you like UK-based customers to know about Uniglo?

Uniglo diamonds is a reputable diamond manufacturer with more than 30 years’ experience. We have a true passion for the diamond industry and put all our efforts into providing our clients with the perfect stone.

Our inventory is so large that customers don’t need to go to different places to find what they are looking for and we also guarantee best prices.

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Sam Lewis

The author Sam Lewis

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