The Korea Herald


Gems of Power: Thailand's Sparkling Journey to Gemstone Hubness


Published : Aug. 29, 2023 - 20:10

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BANGKOK, Aug. 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- "Diamonds are forever" is the old cliche that once guided the gemstone universe. But diamonds must now share the world stage with a new cast of sparkling characters. In a shifting landscape of consumer preferences, other precious gems are rising to prominence, drawing attention not only for their aesthetic allure but also for their versatility, uniqueness, and spiritual endowments. And Thailand is already an established hub for these newcomers.

A blossoming of timeless elegance unveils a vibrant cultural heritage intertwined with the fineness of jewelry craftsmanship.
A blossoming of timeless elegance unveils a vibrant cultural heritage intertwined with the fineness of jewelry craftsmanship.

Gems today are more than just pretty baubles; they serve as conduits to astrological energies and personal connections. Birthstones, cherished by many, hold the promise of shielding against negativity and drawing positive energy. Sapphires, symbols of wisdom and spiritual enlightenment, are an integral part of India's cultural heritage. China's reverence for Jade, believed to possess protective properties, is steeped in Taoist beliefs and ancient literature. Thus, ancient lore infuses contemporary jewelry with age-old mystique, adding cultural gravitas to visual appeal.

Thailand has emerged as a focal point in this global gemstone renaissance, skillfully navigating changing preferences while cementing its position as a luxury adornment leader. Rooted in a cultural heritage that spans centuries, Thailand's gem and jewelry industry is a testament to local artisans' skill in transforming raw gems into intricate masterpieces embodying tradition, spirituality, and exquisite craftsmanship.

A distinguishing element of Thai expertise is their mastery of heat treatment techniques that infuse colored stones with unparalleled vibrancy. This unique skill, a signature of Thai craftsmanship, has been perfected over the decades. With approximately 20,000 skilled artisans and production hubs like Bangkok and Chanthaburi province keep the legacy alive and well.

"We've witnessed a surge in global and local demand," said Mr. Phuket Khunprapakorn, advisor of the Chanthaburi Gem and Jewelry Traders Association. Post-COVID economic recoveries in Europe and the US, and the influx of tourists to Thailand (particularly from China and India), fuel this growth.

Thailand proudly stands as the world's third-largest exporter of colored gemstones, with gem and jewelry exports reaching over USD 15 billion in 2022, notching up 50% growth year-on-year. The upcoming 68th Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Trade Fair, scheduled for September 6-10, 2023, aims to host some 30,000 visitors, clinching its status as a premier industry event.

"An increasing number of modern buyers view gemstones as a novel form of investment," said Mr. Phuket. Acquiring top-quality gemstones such as rubies and blue sapphires from Thailand could indeed prove profitable, as the value of rubies has increased by more than 40% over the past five years. Given the high demand, and dwindling natural resources, Thailand faces the challenge of balancing supply and demand for sustainable growth.

In an era dominated by online commerce, the gems and jewelry sector has embraced change. To instill confidence in product quality, the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT) has spearheaded several initiatives across the value chain.

Director of GIT, Mr. Sumeth Prasongpongchai, said, "Our mission is to elevate the gem and jewelry industry's standards and competitiveness to an international echelon, while ensuring sustainability."

GIT has invested in research to bolster manufacturing productivity and address environmental concerns, collaborating with both national and international institutes to establish industry standards for gemstones and precious metals. To bolster the downstream sector, GIT has introduced the "Buy with Confidence" initiative, issuing quality assurance certificates that induce confidence among both buyers and sellers. Employing AI technology, GIT can trace gem origins, and curb misinformation that could unfairly influence pricing.

With an unwavering commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and adaptability, Thailand's gem and jewelry industry has been steadily solidifying its standing as a radiant gem in the crown of luxury adornments.