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Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more

13 May 2014

By Tasha Unninayar

The 53rd edition of the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair (BGJF) opened under the theme Freedom of Trade, and exceeded expectations despite external challenges. The BGJF demonstrated, once again, that this event is indeed worth the visit.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
The opening ceremony at the 53rd Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair, with local government and fair dignitaries cutting the ribbon.

In the weeks running up to the opening of the February edition of the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair, the international media published alarming reports of political unrest and violence in the nation’s capital, even to the point of portraying it as a chaotic war zone. these reports fuelled concerns for the safety of exhibitors, insurance providers, and fair visitors, causing some to cancel their trips.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Delicate gold and gem earrings by Pranda, one of Thailand’s largest fine jewellery brands.

For those of us who dared to go to Bangkok, however, the actual situation was really quite different. In reality, after the February 2nd election, protests in the city were peaceful demonstrations of civil disobedience with minimal incidents, complete with musical entertainment, stand-up comedy acts, street-food vendors, family activities, and sellers hawking all kinds of merchandise in an organized section with hundreds of tents.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Thailand is the largest exporter of silver jewellery and is home to many creative designers who work in silver such as Goldlip, a Bangkok brand that created this burnished silver, gold, mother-ofpearl, and gemstone necklace.

I know, because I inadvertently found myself at one of these demonstrations, not realizing at first that it was a political happening. But the streets were controlled and monitored by the authorities, and, according to the locals, the protests created more of a traffic jam problem than anything else.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
The Zero-Vat policy of exempting rough gems and materials into Thailand for manufacture was a huge draw at the show.

Setting the Stage

  • Alternative Insurance. In response to international concerns about the protests, the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA) organized alternative insurance for all exhibitors whose respective companies would not cover them at the BGJF.
  • Freedom of Trade. The Thai government approved a waiver of the 20-percent import duty on gems sold at the Fair. This allowed foreign exhibitors to reduce costs and be competitive with the local market.
  • Zero VAT pavilion. Authorized by the -ai Government, this exempts the 7-percent VAT on all imports of rough gemstones and raw materials brought into Thailand for manufacturing purposes.
  • Business Matching Services. The popular service of matching buyers with vendors that best match their needs was offered, free of charge and used quite successfully.
Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Somchai Phornchindarak, President of the TGJTA and the GJPMC, welcomes visitors to the 53rd BGJF

Regarding the government’s support of the fair, Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the TGJTA and the Gems and Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) commented, “We are privileged to have the Government’s support for the ‘Duty Free’ and ‘Zero VAT’ policies. As a result of this support, which worked hand-inhand with the TGJTA and GJPCT, the 53rd BGJF was able to showcase a comprehensive range of gems and jewellery to the world.”

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Honouring the Year of the Horse, Thai silver manufacturer Monplaisir created these earrings made of silver and Swarovski marcasite.

Fair Focus

Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of silver jewellery, so it was no surprise to see that silver occupied a significant portion of the show floor, which comprised some 1500 exhibitors and 3000 booths. The Thai Silver Exporters Association presented a glamorous display of workmanship representative of the quality of Thai silver production in the aim of showing concretely why Thailand is the leading manufacturer of silver, and silver design, in the world. “People come from many countries looking for the quality of Thai silver workmanship,” commented Weerasak Lervisrt, President of the Thai Silver Exporters Association.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Stone cutting is a major activity in Thailand. Shown here are facetted sapphires from TC Mining.

Since Thailand is one of the world’s largest producers of facetted gemstones, a great deal of floor space was also taken up by gem dealers from around the world, many of whom have offices in Bangkok. Other booths ranged from purveyors of simple pieces to prestigious brands featuring highly elaborate fine gold, diamond, and gemstone jewellery. In sum, there was something for every taste and budget.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
The Ploi Thai pavilion featured creative Thai designers and manufacturers.

Also in the spotlight was the new Ploi Thai pavilion, under the theme of “Ploi Thai Gems & Jewellery Gateway to ASEAN the Colourful Ploi Thai: the Spirit of ASEAN 2015,” making reference to the adherence of Thailand to the ASEAN economic zone in 2015. The goal of Ploi Thai (Ploi = gem and Thai = Thailand) is to enhance the recognition of stones and jewellery processed in Thailand. “It may be a ruby from Mozambique, but once it is processed here, it becomes Ploi Thai,” explained Anthony Peter Brooke, vice president of the TGJTA, who added that the focus on Thai craftsmanship in stone cutting and jewellery design and manufacture, via Ploi Thai branding, will help bring more international recognition and appreciation of the important role played by Thai jewellery manufacturers as brands themselves and as high-quality private-label producers.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Nature-inspired earrings in silver, gold, gemstones, and pearls by Dhevan Dara.

And, speaking of rubies, the TGJTA discussed its proactive work relating to the emerging ruby market in Mozambique. “Currently, in terms of deposits in the world, some major ruby and sapphire producers, such as Myanmar, are losing their positions, while several newcomers are rising significantly, such as Mozambique and Madagascar,” stated Dr. Dietmar Schwarz, Director of the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences, at a press conference.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Rubies have traditionally been important in Thai jewellery as seen in this ruby and diamond necklace by Blue River.

As the world of ruby deposits changes, Anthony Peter Brooke stated that it is TGJTA’s goal to elevate Bangkok as the world’s ruby trading centre. The association has been working diligently with Mozambique to have Thailand recognized as a platform for ruby trading by having the Mozambique Ruby Auctions in Bangkok.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
One of Thailand’s leading producers of silver jewellery is Topaz BKK, with a production of all types of jewellery including charms.

Positive Atmosphere

The reduced attendance both by exhibitors and buyers, while visible in the halls, allowed for a more relaxed environment where serious buyers could have time for more quality interactions. Vendors stated that the buyers they met were more serious and committed to doing business. It was a quality versus quantity situation. Overall, vendors were pleased with the results. “Our expectations have been exceeded and we are pleasantly surprised, despite the political situation, since we are still seeing our current customers, as well as new ones,” said Decha Nantana, Pranda, Bangkok. “Because we have such a range of diversity, with less crowds, the customers were able to take their time and experience the interaction in more depth,” added a spokesperson for Beauty Gems of Bangkok.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Lovely ruby and diamond necklace and earrings, modelled by Sangduen (Chompu) Suksawat (left), and her sister, Napa Suksawat, who both now manage the family business Duang Kaew.

Buyers also expressed satisfaction with the BGJF. “I come every other year and, yes, some vendors are missing, but I am seeing new trends and great new variety in product,” observed Joann, a retail buyer from Alaska, USA. “I come every year and I am quite impressed with the fair organization. It is well established and is a great source for gemstones. Already by the second day, I had bought over US$30,000 worth of stones,” declared A. Deen and B. Verma of Zenith Trading.

Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair: quality and more
Thai craftsmanship is known around the world for jewellery and also for objets d’art as shown in this elephant sculpture by KdeCraft.

The Fall edition of the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair will be held September 9 to 12, 2014. And, again, it should definitely be worth the visit.

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