Eye on Asia

MARCH 16, 2010: For many of us in the international diamond trade, the month of March has become a fixed item on our travel calendar. It starts with the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair, followed by the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show and usually ends with the Basel World Fair.

At these shows, we usually get a good indication of where our business is heading.

This year, before traveling to Hong Kong, I had the pleasure of paying a visit to Bangkok, Thailand, in particular to attend the opening of the 45th Bangkok Gems

I was invited to Bangkok jointly by the Ministry of Commerce; the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA); the fair management and, last but not least, the Bangkok Diamond and Precious Stones Exchange (BDPSE), which is one of the world’s 28 WFDB diamond exchanges.

While I had visited Thailand before, this was my first opportunity to observe and learn, within just a few days, how strong and effective infrastructure the Thai diamond, gem and jewellery industry and trade has put in place in the Bangkok metropolitan area.

Thailand is expected to trade more than a billion dollars of diamonds this year. Its bourse has the potential of growing its current membership of about 70 members to a much larger number, as hundreds of diamond traders who are not yet bourse members are active in Bangkok. We look forward to working closely with the BDPSE to try help and grow its membership. We also discussed the plans for a WFDB InterBourse pavilion at the 46th Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair in September 2010.

In addition, BDPSE Secretary-General Pichet Romhuttirerk took me on a tour of Gemopolis, the diamond gem and jewellery industrial park and free trade zone. This park is located strategically, just minutes away from Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok’s international airport, and about half an hour drive from the city center. The park not only houses diamond, coloured gemstone and jewellery manufacturing companies, but offers schooling in jewellery craftsmanship, diamond and gemstone cutting, diamond grading and coloured gemstone identification courses and so forth. As the park has been marketed mainly within Thailand, it is a gem yet to be discovered by the international gem and jewellery community.

Traffic at the Bangkok Fair was reportedly up, compared to last year and exhibitors voiced guarded optimism. With the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show still in progress as I write this, the jury is still out on how fast our business is clawing its way back up. In any case, I urge all of our trade's members to remain careful and vigilant — and keep a finger on the pulse.