Stargems set to shine

Baitshepi Sekgweng
CONFIDENT: Sandeep Kolambekar

Ready to export first diamonds to the market

Having set-up its Botswana operations last July, StarGems is expected to export its first batch of locally sourced diamonds to the international market by the end of the month.

Established with the main purpose of sourcing and manufacturing rough diamonds from Debeers and Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), the unit has combined operations of cutting, butting* and faceting, meaning it essentially carries out the entire rough-to-polishing process.

Speaking to Voice Money on Friday, StarGems Global Head of Manufacturing, Sandeep Kolambekar, confirmed they were ready to start exporting.

“All the production from October to December 2022 is polished and ready for the market and exporting. All is in process; since we are a new company we should learn all the processes of exporting and customs for diamonds. That stock which has piled is about 300 carats of polished diamonds which is roughly 50 stones,” he revealed.

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StarGems expects to process 2, 000 to 3, 000 carats of rough diamonds every month, although there are plans to ramp up production as the factory has the capacity for more.

“The factory can accommodate 350 people which means plans for expansion are very much alive. We invested in machines, expecting allocations of stock from Debeers, ODC and importing from our subsidiaries in Dubai and South Africa. With that, our production scale will rise to 5, 000 carats per month – that’s the plan,” confirmed an optimistic Kolambekar.

One of the largest diamond producers in the world, Botswana produced 23 million carats in 2021 alone – a situation which creates opportunities for diamonds value chain development and beneficiation for locals.

“We are attracted by the quality of the precious stones and political stability. Over the years Botswana has consistently ranked highly on economic and development indicators; this motivated us to set operations in here,” he explained.

Currently, 117 polishers and 27 expatriate trainers are employed at the factory, located in Gaborone’s Block 3 Industrial location.

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However, according to Kolambekar, they aim to reach 250 employees by the end of 2023.

“We have high hopes that our presence in Botswana will add impetus to the economy and also curb the unemployment rate. The goal is to grow this numbers to 500 in the foreseeable future. We are also in a strategic partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School, so we will be mentoring 60 Batswana on focus areas of our operations,” said Kolambekar, who admitted there was a lack of skills in polishing and manufacturing locally.

*BUTTING: Creating the polygon-like sides of a diamond during processing

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