A Royal Touch at 60th BGJF
The 60th edition of the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF) showcased the vast array of beautiful gemstones and stylish jewelry that the event has become known for. This year, one of the main highlights was the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, daughter of the present king, who oversaw the BGJF’s opening ceremony. A jewelry and fashion designer in her own right, the princess exhibited her collections at the BGJF in the “SIRIVANNAVARI Jewelry Showcase.”
By Cynthia Unninayar
Winners in the World Ruby Contest, Top left to right: “Natural Unheated Ruby” category - Rubies 3 to 5 carats: Veerasak Gems; Rubies over 10 carats: K.V. Gems; Bottom left to right: “Natural Unheated Ruby” -Rubies 5.01 to 10 carats: Gemburi; and in the "Conventional Heated Ruby" category, 5.01 - 10 carats, the silver award went to Premier Gems Trading Co, for this heart-shaped ruby.
Taking place September 6 - 10, 2017, the BGJF is supported and organized by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) under the Ministry of Commerce. “Thailand’s gems and jewelry industry is an essential part of the country’s trade and exports,” explained Mrs. Apiradi Tantraporn, Minister of Commerce. “Ranked third after the auto industry and electronics, it generates over US$10 billion in revenue annually, and provides decent incomes for over one million artisans and skilled workers in the nation.”
Mrs. Chantira Jimreivat Vivatrat, director of the DITP, added that Thailand’s gem and jewelry exports are estimated to rise around 5%. She also reiterated the importance of the DITP-supported “T Mark” (Thailand Trust Mark) that certifies high-quality and socially-responsible production in several sectors of the Thai economy, including gems and jewelry.
Thailand is also well known for its third-party jewelry manufacturing that Thai manufacturers carry out for many foreign brands, including a number of elite global luxury brands. The Southeast Asian nation is also the world’s second largest supplier of silver jewelry, after India.
The 60th BGJF featured 843 exhibitors from around Thailand and the world, who showcased their wares in more than 2100 booths. This year, the national pavilions enjoyed an increase of 18% in exhibitor participation.
The strongest export markets for Thai gems and jewelry are Switzerland, Hong Kong and the United States. Overseas exhibitors this year came from the ASEAN nations, China, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Sri Lanka and the United States, among others. Final trade attendance was about 16,000 visitors from 130 nations, generating nearly US$60 million in sales, 29% higher than the previous edition.
Jewelry designs were available at all price points, types and qualities. It ranged from high-end gold pieces set with diamonds and precious gemstones, to silver and gem pieces, to costume jewelry set with created gems. Booths offering loose diamonds, packaging and machinery also attracted a large number of buyers. The leading growth sector of the Thai gems and jewelry industry, however, is the colored gemstone sector. Stones ranged from large rough samples to faceted colored gems of all kinds, including diamonds.
One gemstone that I had not seen before was a rather unusual stone in the sapphire family. Dubbed the “Golden Sheen Sapphire” by Tanzim Khan owner of Bangkok–based gem dealer, Genuine Gems and Jewellery, this unique sapphire was discovered in a remote area of Kenya near the Somali border in 2013. “As soon as I saw the stone,” Khan said, “I knew there had to be a way to showcase its unique characteristics.” After trial and error, he succeeded in creating a series of facets (and also cabochons) that bring out the gem’s shimmering beauty.
Khan was so impressed by this remarkable stone and its commercial possibilities, that he purchased the mine’s entire production—still in an undisclosed area—which is now depleted. He showed me gem certificates from a number of labs around the world, attesting to the gem’s authenticity as a sapphire and its natural state. The stone comes in a range of sizes and recently was featured in a 2016 Spectrum Award winning ring.
The 60th BGJF also featured a number of new additions, including “New Faces,” with 50 booths offering intricate jewelry crafted by smaller companies and designers. A special section under the “Talent Thai and Designers’ Room” showcased emerging designers and entrepreneurs in the sector. Returning from the previous editions, but in a modified form, was the “Niche Showcase” that featured innovative designs in five emerging market categories across the globe. These included: “The Moment” (celebrating weddings, special occasions and anniversaries); “Spiritual Power” (infusing religious and spiritual beliefs in adornment); “MetroMen/LBGT” (a fast-growing segment for refined masculine jewelry); “Heritage & Craftsmanship” (jewelry and artisanal crafts inspired by cultural roots); and “Beyond Jewelry” (bejeweled furniture and objets d’art).
The World Ruby Contest
Co-organized and supported by the GIT, AIGS, the Jewelry Trade Center (JTC), and France’s Association of Gemmology, the goal of the World Ruby Contest is to promote, support, raise awareness of and create an accurate understanding of ruby to people worldwide, both consumers and the trade. It is also a precursor to the World Ruby Forum that took place in Bangkok on November 4, following the CIBJO conference.
“The World Ruby Forum aims to increase recognition of the value and beauty of the ruby, which is regarded as ‘The King of Gems’, as well as to showcase the strength of Thailand’s gemstone industry,” commented Mrs. Duangkamol Jiambutr, the newly appointed director of GIT.
Judges for the World Ruby Contest included: Mrs. Wilawan Atichat, GIT advisor; Mr. Chawalit Salwala, coloured stone expert and managing director of Thai Lapidary International Co.; Mr. Victor Tuzlukov, renowned gem cutter; Ms. Gail Brett Levine, executive director of USA-based National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA); Mr. George Shen, director of the California Gemological Institute; and Mrs. Winnie Chen, chairman of Guangdong Shining House.
The contest was organized into six categories: Natural Unheated Ruby and Traditional Heated Ruby, in sizes of 3 to 5 carats, 5 to 10 carats and stones of more than 10 carats.
In the “Natural Unheated Ruby” category, winners were: 3 to 5 carats - Veerasak Gems Co.; 5.01 to 10 carats - Gemburi Co.; and ruby over 10 carats - K.V. Gems Co. In the “Conventional Heated Ruby” category, winners were: 3 to 5 carats - Premiere Gems Co; 5.01 to 10 carats - Jack Abraham; and ruby over 10 carats - Veerasak Gems Co.
The 61st BGJF will be held on February 21 to 25, 2018. (bkkgems.com)