Thai gem and jewelry industry gleaming over growth

Thai commerce officials said they were looking forward to sterling sales in the Kingdom’s gem and jewelry industry this year despite a slowing global economy basing their forecast on unexpectedly high attendance and purchases at the annual Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair last month.

The fair “experienced great success, with sales generated at the event totaling more than 2 billion baht ($62 million),” said Banjongjitt Angsusingh, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department.
That represented a 5.4 percent increase over the previous year as the fair attracted over 14,000 buyers, visitors, and industry experts from 118 countries. The event was open to the public on some days, while others were reserved for international buyers and agents, and their purchases were 85 percent higher than last year.

Thailand was once one of the world’s source countries for raw gems such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other precious stones and gems. Today, much of that treasure has already been extracted, and the Kingdom is now known as a leading cutting, finishing, and polishing center for raw diamonds from DeBeers of South Africa and other major suppliers.
It has also emerged as a competitive design center for jewelry as Thai designers have increasingly adapted to global trends and their creations have attained broad appeal.

That evolution has led overseas buyers and industry experts to conclude that the Thai gem and jewelry industry, once thought to be a sunset industry, has a lucrative future in store.
“The future of the Bangkok fair was often questioned, but by all accounts, it does have a future,” said Helen Thompson-Carter, director Fabuleux Vous, a New Zealand firm.

“Thailand promotes itself with an ‘artisan’ approach to their jewelry craft, embracing tradition and use of ‘magic hands’ to deliver fine jewelry – versus the mass-machine production that we see from [other] countries,” she added.