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The 56th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair: A hub for coloured stones

By Cynthia Unninayar

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Sapphire and diamond jewellery by Thai manufacturer, JNB Manufacturing and Exporting Co.

Despite the recent terrorist attacks in Bangkok and the global economic slowdown, the 56th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF) still registered good visitor turnout. Some 11,000 people entered the show on the first day, keen on seeing the wares of approximately 2500 exhibitors and stocking up before the holiday season. While a definite showcase for Thai gems and jewellery, the event also featured a wide range of international exhibitors from dozens of countries around the world.

Organized by the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) and the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA), with the co-operation of the Ministry of Commerce and the Department of International Trade Promotion, BGJF took place Sept. 10 to 14 at the very modern Challenger Halls, located in the Muang Thong Thani section of Bangkok.

Unlocking the tax barrier was a definite incentive for both exhibitors and visitors. The elimination of the 20 per cent duty effectively made BGJF a duty-free zone. Another tax incentive was the Zero VAT, which is the continued exemption of the seven per cent value-added tax for all imports of rough gems stones and raw materials into Thailand for manufacturing.

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Ruby and sapphire necklace by Thai brand, Sphere.

In terms of products, Thailand is known as a global hub for coloured stones, so it was no surprise this was the largest category (nearly 30 per cent) at the show, with silver jewellery a close second at just under 25 per cent—understandable since Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of silver jewellery. Gold, pearls, and fine diamonds made up a little less than 25 per cent, while the International Pavilion accounted for 16 per cent of exhibitors. Equipment, packaging, synthetic stones, and costume jewellery rounded out the total.

“Thailand is among the top 10 exporters of gems and jewellery products in the world,” stated GJPCT president, Somchai Phornchindarak. “From January to June 2015, the nation has earned $5.334 billion U.S. from these products.” With the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, “there will be more than 600 million people who can be a big target group for the industry,” he added.

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One of the most important exhibitions at the BGJF was the special pavilion paying tribute to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on the occasion of her 60th birthday. Held at the Design Pavilion, the ceremony featured a traditional Thai dance performed on stage for guests, who could then view the many jewels inspired by or created for the princess.

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Thailand’s Prime Minister, H.E. General Prayuth Chan-ocha (centre), takes a tour of the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, with GJPCT president, Somchai Phornchindarak (at right).

Another highlight of the show was the ‘Gems, Jewelry and Luxury Goods Auction Gemopolis Industrial Estate,’ a new event in support of GJPCT and TGJTA. Numerous bidders gathered to buy precious items at good prices. Among the 120 items auctioned off was a set of 17 unmounted oval-shaped Mozambique rubies (unheated) with an Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS) certificate and a total weight of 24.25 carats that sold for $60,000 U.S. A remarkable 15.10-carat oval-shape AIGS-certified Burmese blue sapphire mounted with brilliant diamonds in an 18-karat white gold setting went for $467,200 U.S. “It was the first international auction at the BGJF and it was very successful. We saw bidders from Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and the West,” said Phornchindarak, adding the auction will become a regular event with more products.

The ‘Online Sourcing Project/Business Matching Service’ was another successful feature of the show, facilitating contacts between buyers and sellers. “This service is proving more and more popular since it enables buyers to locate specific suppliers in the fastest and most convenient manner,” explained Suttipong Damrongsakul, CEO of BGJF.

It will be interesting to see how the ASEAN trading zone will affect Thailand, which is well poised to take advantage of the increase in potential customers in the New Year. Perhaps we will already have some information on the ASEAN effect at the next BGJF, which takes place Feb. 24 to 28.

A 20-year veteran of the jewellery and watch industry, Cynthia Unninayar travels the world reporting on the latest trends, promising new designers, global brands, and market conditions. Her interviews with some of the industry’s top players offer insight into what’s new and what’s happening on the global jewellery stage.

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