The Thai government has set the target of making the country the world’s gem and jewelry hub by the year 2020, said a leading industry player in an exclusive interview with ASEAN Forum.
“The Thai gem and jewelry industry is very important for the Thai economy,” said Duangkamol Jiambutr, Director of the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT). “The Thai Government will promote Thailand as the hub for world gems and jewellery industry by 2020.”
The industry is ranked third, after automobiles/autoparts and electronics, in terms of exports accounting for 3 to 5 % of the GDP, or some $10 to $15 billion dollars depending on your source.
When the economy is not doing well, people buy high value jewelry for investment
The main exports markets are China and Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, the US and the EU. However, Jiambutr believes the GIT has an important role to play in promoting cooperation across the ASEAN region, and in particular within the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries.
“Myanmar is very strong in gem stones, Laos in silver and Cambodia with certain gemstones,” she said. “We cooperate with them,” citing the gems tasting laboratory in Myanmar as an example of how knowledge and information was being exchanged.
Thailand’s particular strength is in colour stones, and particularly rubies.
“We are very strong in colour stones and the trend is on the up, particularly in China,” said Jiambutr.
In addition to the revenue created, the industry benefits other sectors including tourism and medical care.
According to Jiambutr, part of the strength of the sector is that jewelry serves a dual function; first as an investment and second as a luxury. “When the economy is not doing well, people buy high value jewelry for investment,” she said.
The GIT is a government body that sits under the Ministry of Commerce. It has a multi-faceted role, the main one of which is as the country’s gems tasting centre, approved by the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO). Accordingly, it provides certificates, or reports, to guarantee the quality of the gems purchased “in accordance with international standards,” Jiambutr said.
More recently the GIT has taken on the role of providing hallmark certificates for precious metals, in addition to its traditional role of providing training and research for the country’s private sector, as well as running an industry information centre – git.or.th.
It also arranges a series of events and contests each year including the GIT Jewellery Design contest – for young designers – which will be presented in November.
Also, in November the GIT will cooperate with CIBJO to organise the CIBJO Congress in Bangkok from November 2 to 5.
It is the second time that a CIBJO Congress will take place in Bangkok, with the first held in back in 2004.
“The fact that the CIBJO Congress is returning to Bangkok is a testament to Thailand’s central role in almost every category of our business, from mining all the way through to jewelry retail, not only in Southeast Asia, but globally as well,” said Gaetano Cavalieri, CIBJO President.
“We thank the Thai government for its generous invitation, as well as DITP and GIT, and invite members of the gem and jewelry sectors from around the world to join us, and to participate in our deliberations, which will impact on stakeholders along the entire chain of distribution. We also are honoured to be able to work in tandem with the World Ruby Forum, which in itself will be a milestone event.”
The World Ruby Forum will take place November 4. Both this and the CIBJO Congress will be held at the Bangkok Shangri-la hotel.
Jiambutr is particularly excited about the Forum.
“Experts from many countries will come and discuss rubies, the innovations and what we are going to do in the future,” she said, inviting those interested in attending either event to contact the GIT.