Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair to showcase Thai silver and craftsmanship
The Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, which will take place from February 25-29, 2020, will showcase Thai skills in making silver jewelry, from ancient times to the present day, and superlative Thai craftsmanship, Somdet Susomboon, Director General of the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough.
What will be the main features and highlights of the 65th Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair?
The Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair, also known as BGJF, continues to celebrate Thailand’s long recognised artisanal skills in line with our global marketing theme, “Thailand’s Magic Hands: the Spirit of Jewelry Making.”
The theme and the campaign emphasize the strong image of Thailand’s gem and jewelry industry, which demonstrates the advantages of Thailand being the country where artisans with the highest level of expertise in gems and jewellery gather.
New to the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair this year is the story of Thai Silver at the Niche Showcase exhibition. For many years, including 2018, Thailand has ranked as the number 1 silver jewellery exporter in the world.
It is well known to be the home and manufacturing capital of high quality silver jewellery products. The exhibition will include the history of silver products from ancient times, and will feature modern design elements and showcase expertise in silver jewelry.
There will be workshops demonstrating gem and jewelry making from Thai artisans to highlight the expertise of Thai craftspeople and enhance the image of the Fair. Visitors can also attend the jewelry making workshops.
Other key aspects include “The New Faces”; featuring jewellery products from 200 promising businesses from across the country. Equally important, one should visit our showcase entitled “The Jewellers”, highlighting a group of designers who focus on creative jewelry crafting.
The Fair will also hold a series of insightful seminars and interactive workshops to promote trade and technical cooperation in Thailand and worldwide. A range of topics is covered: from raw materials and jewellery trends, to innovative marketing techniques and approaches.
What is the significance of Thailand’s gem and jewelry craftsmanship in the global trade?
In the past, Thailand was a source of raw materials, such as rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Just as the name of our international airport, Suvarnabhumi means the land of gold, Thailand has a proud and rich culture of sculpting, engraving, weaving, and creating gold masterpieces, from crown jewels to sacred pagodas and royal dresses.
Thailand’s exceptional design, gemstone selection, settings, and polishing are a reflection of our long history and heritage in fine jewellery.
Thai artisans are praised for their meticulous gemstone setting skills as our country’s jewelry and artistic creations brilliantly shine with the precision of high craftsmanship.
For hundreds of years, the knowledge of the Western world’s finest jewelry making has been assimilated with Thai artisans’ skills, allowing for significant advances in the art of precious metal jewelry making.
Innovation from Thailand’s history such as the uniqueness of Thai contemporary artistry is the means to bridge the past and the future.
For this reason, Thailand has become one of the leading countries of value creation for the global gem and jewelry industry.
And we are well established with a significant reputation for jewelry brands that are internationally recognised for having the highest skills and artistic design in the world.
Why is the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair a ‘must-attend’ event for buyers from around the world?
First and foremost, Thailand is a one stop destination for the gem and jewelry industries from mine to market that offers the full spectrum of gems, finished jewelry, design services, polishing, setting services, gem certifications, logistics, and related services.
Secondly, thanks to its strategic location and infrastructure for the industry, Thailand serves as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) gem gateway to the world.
The Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair embraces the AEC partnership and welcomes exhibitors from neighbouring countries, especially Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam or CLMV.
Thus, visitors to the Fair can be certain of discovering a comprehensive range of gems and jewelry from Thailand, ASEAN, and beyond.
And lastly, our Fair’s highly anticipated jewelry presentation, whether in the form of a spectacular fashion show or mesmerising art performance, promises to delight all attendees at the Networking reception.
Is the Thai Government pursuing new initiatives to support the Thai gem and jewelry sectors around the world?
The Thai government has adopted economic measures to address the volatile world economy, which include, but is not limited to the gem and jewellery industry. These measures include:
– Increasing exports to emerging markets such as the Middle East, the ASEAN region, India and China in addition to its existing markets namely Hong Kong, the U.S. as well as Europe, where the industry still sees demand growth by introducing campaigns to promote the image of Thailand’s gem and jewelry products.
– Exploring new opportunities from the trade dispute between major trading partners by attracting those buyers who have been affected by the ongoing political turmoil in some regions to seek suppliers in Thailand instead.
– Promoting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in connection to domestic tourism through The New Faces Zone which will serve as a new marketing channel for local entrepreneurs, especially to business owners with potential to export, such as in provinces with significant raw materials like silver from Nan province in the North, gemstones from Chanthaburi province in the East, and black spinel from Tak province in the Northwest of Thailand.
Do you believe that Brexit can bring new trade opportunities in the gem and jewelry industries between Thailand and the UK?
The Thai government has a plan to facilitate the opportunities of Brexit by promoting and expanding potential Thai products, including gems and jewelry in the UK market. The UK is still one of the potential markets for gems and jewelry from Thailand since the UK is Thailand’s fourth largest export destination among European markets with 2018’s export value of 207.7 million USD, increased by 6.64 percent from 2017. In 2019, despite global economic volatility, Thai exports to the UK remained very promising with 13.30% growth in the first 10 months. We believe that there are opportunities for the gems and jewellery trade to grow between the two nations.
What are the projections for total Thai gems and jewelry exports by value in 2019 versus 2018, in US dollars, and what are the key drivers of this trend?
In 2018, the industry brought in approximately 12 billion USD (-6.56%), accounting for 4.74% of the country’s total export value. The export of gems and jewellery excluding raw gold was worth 7.6 billion USD, an increase of 7.08%. The Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) has set out the 2019 working export target for the industry at +1% (raw gold excluded) or about 7.7 billion USD. So far, thanks to rising gold prices, during the first 10 months of 2019, the export value of gems and jewelry products totalled 13.97 billion USD, an increase of 37.58%. Once excluded raw gold, the 2019 export is worth 6.9 billion USD, an increase of 6.22%. Thus, we are positive that the 2019 export of gems and jewelry will reach the target.
According to the statistics below, the upward export trend comes from rising prices of raw materials such as gold and precious metals as well as growing demand for gemstones and pearls in major export markets such as Hong Kong, India, the U.S., Switzerland, Italy, Japan etc. The continued growth in the gems and jewellery industry reflects confidence in the quality of Thai products and reputable craftsmanship of Thai manufacturers. I believe that 2019 as well as 2020 will be a fruitful year for Thai gems and jewelry exporters.
Key products export in detail (Jan-Oct 2019)
Precious stones (overall exports of 2,619.67 million USD (an increase of 3.85%))
Diamonds US$ 1,305.16 million (-7.89%)
Gemstones US$ 1,298.64 million (+18.95%)
Pearls US$ 15.87 million (+14.87%)
Fine Jewellery (overall exports of 3,037.85 million USD (a decrease of -8.69%))
Gold Jewellery US$ 1,619.47million (-1.65%)
Silver Jewellery US$ 1,215.69 million (-21.71%)
Other Precious Metal Jewellery US$ 202.69 million (+58.81%)
Imitation Jewellery US$ 349.29 million (-0.10%)
Synthetic Jewellery US$ 57.18 million (-14.97%)
Precious Metal and Metal Coated Items US$ 838.38 million (+261.93%)
Unwrought gold US$ 7,073.84 million (+93.24%)
What is the outlook for next year in key overseas markets for Thai exports of gems and jewelry, and what steps is DITP taking to drive growth in those countries?
Major Export Markets of Thai Gems and Jewellery (excluding raw gold) in 2019
1. Hong Kong -3.83%
2. USA -7.58%
3. India +98.05%
4. Singapore +306.11
5. Germany -30.77%
6. Switzerland +52.84%
7. Belgium -5.25%
8. Italy +125.71%
9. United Arab Emirates +2.82%
10. UK +13.33%
– Potential Markets that show strong growth are Qatar (4.35%) South Korea (22.42%), the Netherlands (9.75%), Cambodia (135.97%), Spain (17.12%), and Vietnam (56.71%)
– Major export markets of Thai Gems and Jewelry and products in demand: Hong Kong (gold, coloured stone), the U.S. (gold jewellery, silver jewellery, coloured stone), Germany (silver jewellery), India (polished precious stone, diamond), Belgium (polished diamond), China (polished precious stone) Russia (silver jewellery), etc.
Aligned with the Thai government’s policy, the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) has proactively adopted different marketing schemes to promote the gems and jewelry industry in various countries and regions.
Firstly, DITP sets out to maintain and expand existing markets, seek new markets and revive former markets. Particularly, in growing markets; DITP by our Thai Trade Centres (DITP’s overseas offices – TTC), for instance TTC Dubai and TTC Chennai, conducts business networking events together with related associations and trade partners to make sure Thai gems and jewelry remain high profile.
In a similar manner, in well-established markets such as Hong Kong, the U.S. and Italy, DITP promotes the image of Thailand’s gems and jewelry industry, utilizing our marketing campaign “Thailand’s Magic Hands,” which highlights advanced skills of Thai craftspeople in creating intricate fine jewelry, to communicate directly to end consumers as well as people in the gems business.
Within the ASEAN region, DITP focuses on high-end consumers or the “super-rich audience” in the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) who can easily pop in to visit the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair in Bangkok.
Last but not least, DITP has worked relentlessly to improve the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair (BGJF) to ensure that BGJF remains one of the most comprehensive trade platforms that provides the industry with a one-stop solution, from upstream to downstream, from sourcing to the marketing, which ultimately helps propel Thailand towards becoming the world’s gems and jewelry manufacturing and trading hub.