COMMENTARY-Bangkok fair opens, resilient visitor numbers, strong precautions against coronavirus risks
By David Brough
BANGKOK, February 25, 2020 – Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair opened its doors with strong measures in place to reduce coronavirus risks, and visitor numbers appeared resilient.
The twice-yearly Bangkok fair, open to buyers from around the world, is a showcase for coloured gemstones and silver jewellery manufactured in Thailand, as well as diamonds, fashion jewellery and machinery.
By mid-afternoon on the first day of the February 25-29 show, organisers spoke of 2,821 visitors, versus around 3,500 at the end of the first day of the September 2019 event.
Organisers stepped up precautions to combat coronavirus risks. Face masks and hand gel were widely available at the fair. Many visitors, exhibitors, show staff and police wore masks.
As of February 25, Thailand has reported 37 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak.
The Bangkok fair opened despite the postponement of the March Hong Kong fair to May 2020 due to concerns over coronavirus.
Thailand’s Department of Trade Promotion (DITP), organiser of the fair, has targeted a 1 percent year-on-year increase in the value of Thai gem and jewelry exports in 2020 (excluding unwrought gold) to 8.2 billion U.S. dollars.
DITP Director-General Somdet Susomboon, in a news briefing, spoke of plans to develop new markets, notably in the Middle East and Central Europe, to compensate for lost sales linked to the coronavirus.
Some exhibitors spoke of the impact of coronavirus fears on sales, but added that well-cut, high-quality and rare coloured gemstones continued to sell well.
Dealers said some gemstones held back from the market last year were now being offered for sale, but prices were holding up.
THAILAND’S FRIEND AWARD 2020
The show was inaugurated after a well-attended ceremony to celebrate Thailand’s Friend Award 2020, granted by the Commerce Ministry for support to the Thai gem and jewelry industry, the country’s third biggest export sector.
The winners included Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough, as well as leading importers from around the world.
The February 2020 edition of the Bangkok fair included a Siam Silver Showcase, presenting extraordinary Thai silver jewelry designs, as well as a New Faces section for innovative talent.
The Jewellers exhibition featured 20 Thai designers displaying jewelry pieces using innovative materials, such as Tee who created jewelry using “forgotten materials,” including paper and rubber tubes.