Mumbai: Russian diamond mining company Alrosa announced on Thursday the launch of an India representative office as it looks to deepen its trade relations with the diamond and jewellery market.

The company, which accounts for about 30% of the world diamond production, will also look at monitoring the use of synthetic diamonds in the country through a device known as the Alrosa Diamond Inspector, a top executive said.

The decision comes in the backdrop of a fallout of the Gitanjali and Nirav Modi bank fraud. There have been reports alleging Gitanjali which sold jewellery under brand names like Nakshatra, D’damas, Gili, Asmi, Sangini, Maya, Giantti had passed off synthetic diamonds as real diamonds which caused consumers to cut back on their purchase of the stones.

The Alrosa Diamond Inspector is a handheld screening device that can identify natural and synthetic polished diamonds. “It will curtail the mixing of synthetic diamonds with real diamonds which is a minute problem but cannot be ignored," said Jim Vimadalal, director of Mumbai representative office.

Owned in 50% partnership by the Russian government, Alrosa is keen on having a trading office in India. However, there is a high excise duty of 40% on buying and selling of diamonds in India which makes it unviable at present.

“The two governments are in talks with each other and we hope that in the next 2-3 years we can make this into a trading office," said Jim Vimadalal.

India accounts for $700 million or 16% of Alrosa’s $4.2 billion sales. Vimadalal is hopeful of increasing the business from India in the coming years as it has already signed 14 long-term contracts for 2018-2020.