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Latest diamond cutting tech gives StarGems Botswana an edge

Sandeep Kolambekar, Global Head of Manufacturing at StarGems.
Sandeep Kolambekar, Global Head of Manufacturing at StarGems.

StarGems, a recent entrant into Botswana’s diamond industry, has secured early competitive advantage after investing in DaVinci Diamond Factory, technology that automates key processes involved in diamond cutting.

The global company has been in the rough diamond trade industry for over 40 years. It has diversified its business to include the manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing of jewellery.

StarGems Botswana was established in October 2022 at a cost of over US$16-million, with equipment at close to US$4-million.

Sandeep Kolambekar, Global Head of Manufacturing at StarGems, said the fully automated system combines three operations involved in diamond cutting, namely bruting, cutting and faceting.

“It carries out all the essential manufacturing workflows, including the entire rough-to-polish process, in less time …enabling a (manual) process that takes three- to-four days, to be completed in eight hours,” said Kolambekar.

Kolambekar added that the business intends to ramp up production and process 2000 – 3000 carats of rough diamonds monthly, and do so before year-end.

Neil Rademeyer of the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School commented, “This new, great technology helps the company to extract the biggest possible value from the stones (rough diamonds),” and added that StarGems is one of only a few companies internationally to have adopted this system.

However, even with the technology in place, StarGems still requires human capital.

Rademeyer explained: “DaVinci system only allows one to start the process up to 80 percent and the rest still needs polishers to perfect the product.”

StarGems has employed 117 local polishers and 27 expat trainers, and aims to recruit 500 people. The company has operations in Botswana, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and New York.

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