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Bangkok Jewellery Fair opening; no one does it better than the Thais
Bangkok Jewellery Fair opening; no one does it better than the Thais

Bangkok jewellery fair to undergo relaunch

The 57th Bangkok jewellery fair has concluded with the announcement of two major initiatives in an attempt to rejuvenate the Thai gemstones and jewellery industry.

The dates for the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair (BGJF) will move to ensure the biannual show no longer coincides with the larger Hong Kong International Jewellery Show.

The change was revealed at the recent BGJF, which ran from 24 to 28 February, along with the announcement that a world first ruby symposium was in development.

Suttipong Damrongsakul, TGJTA president
Suttipong Damrongsakul, TGJTA president

Speaking at a press conference during the 57th edition of the BGJF, Suttipong Damrongsakul, president of the Thai Gems and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA), announced that: “The 59th BGJF in 2017 will no longer be held in February but rather earlier in January 2017 to ensure buyers will not need to hurry from our fair to other fairs in the region [Hong Kong show] and so that exhibitors will be able to participate at both fairs.”

The decision was considered a strategic move to relaunch the Thai event; it’s anticipated that by decoupling the two shows, the Bangkok jewellery fair will, once again, become a stand-alone trading event.

Thailand hosts two annual BGJF shows – February and September – that have traditionally been timed to take place prior to the Hong Kong fairs. For example, this year, the Bangkok fair closed on 28 February with the Hong Kong show to open 3 March.

Speaking at the same media conference, TGJTA vice president Anthony Peter Brooke, explained that splitting from the Hong Kong show would enable major buyers to attend the Thai fair directly without the pressure of visiting the Hong Kong show virtually at the same time.

“Up until now, I must admit, some Thai companies have not been exhibiting here [BGJF] and have been exhibiting at Hong Kong. This is why there’s a strategic move to split so we anticipate a growth of exhibitors not a decline,” Brooke added.

The latest BGJF presented around 1,500 exhibitors – a decline from previous events. In comparison, the Hong Kong show will feature around 2,400 exhibitors.

Brooke believed bringing forward the traditional February Bangkok fair to mid-January, and the later show from September to August, would revitalise the Thai market.

Anthony Peter Brooke, TGJTA vice president
Anthony Peter Brooke, TGJTA vice president

“We expect the market to come back,” he said.

The move appears to have been accepted by stakeholders mainly because the local industry needed to do something to re-stamp Thailand as the gemstone hub of the world. Gemstones and jewellery is Thailand’s third largest export industry, behind automotive and electronics.

Suttipong outlined that in 2015, the industry generated US$7.2 billion (AU$10 b) in exports and employed 1.3 million people in more than 3,500 registered companies. In 2015, the industry increased 3 percent, and this year growth is expected to be between 3 and 5 per cent.

Focus on rubies

Somchai Phornchindarak, president of newly formed association Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT), made the second major announcement designed to revitalise the industry.

Somchai Phornchindarak, president GJPCT launches Ruby Symposium
Somchai Phornchindarak, president GJPCT launches Ruby Symposium

He declared that Bangkok would host the “world’s first” ruby symposium in April 2017.

“Our aim is to promote Thailand as the central hub for the world’s leading businesses operating in the gemstone industry to come together to express their opinions and ideas especially about rubies,” Somchai said.

All ruby-producing countries and parties, such as leading brokerages, governmental agencies and grading laboratories, will reportedly be invited with the aim to develop plans and set the direction of the industry, while providing comprehensive data-gathering and analysis and organisation.

According to TGJTA, ruby supply chains and sources remain inconsistent and highly unregulated. As such, the association believed an enhanced regulated industry and improved grading system would benefit the overall international gemstone trade.

The organiser hoped that as many as 400 people would attend the first event.

The ruby symposium, coupled with bringing forward the dates of the jewellery fairs, have been seen by many as much needed initiatives.

Brooke was pragmatic about the purpose of the symposium: “The aim is to reclaim Thailand’s reputation after the gem diffusion crisis of about 10 years ago. A lot of stones were being diffused [treated] here, which created a huge impact resulting in massive bankruptcies.

“Unfortunately Thailand’s reputation was damaged and we intend to bring our reputation back to where it should be.”

Somchai added that the symposium aimed to promote Thailand as the hub for rubies and bring together leading manufacturers and exporters to focus on the latest developments and the outlook for processing and trading of rubies.

Immediate BGJF changes

While the latest announcements were aimed to make future fairs more successful, there were also new initiatives put in place this year.

The BGJF is now designated as a duty-free zone, so exhibitors are now exempt from the customary 20 per cent import duty on gemstones and jewellery products.

In addition, a media release stated: “You pay no Value Added Tax (VAT) when you hand-carry rough gemstones through the Bangkok International Airport to attend the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair. The Zero VAT scheme is a year round privilege allowing for a 1 per cent withholding tax that is levied on the buyer.”

On 9 February 2016, the Thai government approved a tax exemption to promote the country’s gemstones and jewellery industry. Under the initiative, Value-Added Tax (VAT) on imports of unpolished diamonds, coloured stones, rubies, emeralds, topaz, garnet, opal, zircon, chrysoberyl, jade, pearl and gemstones will be waived for importers or sellers registered as individual traders.

Imitation or artificial items are not exempt. In addition, individual importers will be exempted from paying personal income tax on money earned from selling unpolished gemstones and pearls, and pay a 1 per cent flat tax on income instead.

These measures aim to support and promote the Thai gemstones and jewellery industry to be able to compete on international markets.

Coleby Nicholson attended the event courtesy of the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair.


On display at the BGJF


World First Ruby Symposium

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