Under the banner of “The World’s Gem & Jewelry Destination,” the 59th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair took place February 22 to 26, 2017, and showcased a number of innovative jewelry ideas.
By Barbara Wheat
The 59th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair Still Sparkling
Thailand ranks Number 10 in the world as one of the largest gem and jewelry exporters with 15,800 entrepreneurs employing more than 900,000 people. Its twice-yearly gem and jewelry shows are among the largest in Asia, and serve as a showcase for many of these companies.
The Opening Ceremony of the 59th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF), organized by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), attracted a large crowd of government officials, industry leaders, exhibitors, buyers and media wanting to get an overview of the government’s outlook for the industry. They also came to see the latest creations from 1000 Thai jewelry brands and manufacturers, including a number of ICA members, as well as exhibitors from around Asia and the world. The number of visitors attending the 59th show was around 23,000.
In her opening speech, Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said that Thai gem and jewelry exports are forecast to rise around five percent year-on-year to $7.32 billion in 2018, up from $7 billion from 2016. This continues the trend of moderate year-on-year growth achieved in recent years. She also reported on a Cabinet resolution reached January 17, 2017 for gem and jewelry product imports, which provides a duty exemption on 32 additional gems and jewelry items, resulting in zero tax, which took effect January 28, 2017.
Among the many activities for visitors to the fair was an innovative fashion show that highlighted the Concept Showcase, created for targeting specific markets. This included collections for Metro Men, 60+ Jewelry, The Moment (bridal), Culture Club (arts and crafts jewelry), Spiritual Power, and jewelry for pets in Pet Parade.
The interesting 60+ Jewelry segment of the fashion show was well received by attendees for featuring a sixty-year-old model on the catwalk. Applause and cheers greeted her as she modeled an exquisite suite of colored gemstone jewelry made by a leading Thai manufacturer.
One of the highlights of the Bangkok fair was the “Gem ID Rendezvous.” Organized by the DIPT in cooperation with the Gem & Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT) and the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS), it featured a Ruby Competition to find the most beautiful Thai rubies. The contest was used to create awareness for the World Ruby Forum that will be held in Bangkok on November 4 of this year in conjunction with the CIBJO conference.
In a press conference with the Thai Ministry of Commerce Inspector General, Chantira Jimreivat Vivatrat reported that gems and jewelry remain among Thailand’s top five export industries. To facilitate trade, the government has been working on lifting import duties to boost the manufacturing sector. “We want to create a favorable trade environment and strengthen the competitiveness of Thai entrepreneurs,” she stated.
Areas of focus include working on international campaigns to attract buyers of loose gems, jewelry manufacturing and sales, as well as getting the right designs to the right market. When asked about Thailand’s advantages of other manufacturing centers, Jimreivat Vivatrat commented on the reliability, craftsmanship and quality of the country’s producers. “Buyers have looked elsewhere for cheaper pricing over the years, but have returned to Thailand when quality and timely delivery issues arise,” she added.
By partnering with other countries, the Inspector General stated that Thailand is looking for advanced technology as being the way of the future. “Adding new technology and machinery to the industry will allow Thailand to remain competitive and a leader in manufacturing worldwide.” Jimreivat Vivatrat also cited gemological testing laboratories as playing an important role in the country’s success. Lifting export duties are also aimed at helping the laboratories, as this will facilitate customers sending stones to Bangkok to be evaluated.
While some exhibitors remarked that traffic could have been better at the show, there seemed to be a consensus that trade in Bangkok remains steady. “Business in Bangkok doesn’t just happen during the fair as it might in some countries,” commented one gemstone supplier. “Buyers are here throughout the year.” This sentiment was echoed by many other exhibitors.
The next BGJF, sponsored by the DITP, will take place from September 6 to 10, 2017. (bkkgems.com)