New Delhi: India’s imports of gems and jewellery fell over 11% to 15,735 crore in December after a sharp drop in shipments of gold bars and jewellery due to government curbs, the industry body said.

The country had imported gems and jewellery worth 17,692 crore in the same month in 2012, it said. “There has been a significant decline in import of gold bars and jewellery because of restrictions. However, import of diamonds is on the rise," Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) chairman Vipul Shah told PTI.

Import of gold bars fell 45% to 2,111.58 crore last month from 3,816 crore a year earlier, according to GJEPC data. Inward shipments of gold jewellery dropped 25% to 453.95 crore from 606.26 crore.

India, the world’s largest gold consumer, meets its entire demand through imports. The government introduced restrictions on gold imports last year to curb the current account deficit (CAD), which had widened to a record high in 2012-13.

Besides gold bars and jewellery, the country imports diamonds, coloured gemstones, pearls, platinum and synthetic stones among others. Purchases of rough diamonds from overseas rose 6% to 10,230.83 crore. Shipments of cut and polished diamonds were 24% lower at 2,355 crore.

Import of rough coloured gemstones increased 14.34% to 176.63 crore, while shipments of rough synthetic stones rose to 41.84 crore from 18 crore.

Import of raw pearls increased to 4.79 crore from 3.16 crore.

During the April-December period, gems and jewellery imports declined over 10% to 1,33,980 crore from 1,49,570 crore in the year-ago period, the GJEPC data showed.

The government increased import duty on gold thrice to 10%, banned inward shipments of gold coins and medallions and made it mandatory for importers to export 20% of their shipments before purchasing more of the metal from overseas.

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