Thailand Aims to Become Production and Trading Hub

Thailand’s first precious stones and jewelry trading center could come into existence next year as part of an effort to make the country a regional hub for jewelry production and trading.

Narong Thamavaranukup, who has assumed the presidency of the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association, says the center would be run by the association with operating functions similar to those of the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The proposed center would promote more traffic of raw materials for jewelry production via bidding and auctions. Details of regulations as well as supporting agencies will be settled in the next few months.

“Organizations like this have been operated in many countries, including the diamond bourse in Israel,” Narong says. The Thai government has agreed to grant about $3.1 million to set up and run the facility at a location now being selected. Earlier, the government agreed to eliminate value-added tax on raw materials imported for jewelry production to allow a freer flow of gems and raw materials into the country.

Narong says the association also plans to create a “Brilliant Diamond From Thailand” image for diamond and precious-stone exports. The country has a local supply of precious stones and rough diamonds, and the cutting skills of the industry’s workforce have reached world standards. The association also plans to promote a Thai or Bangkok cut for diamonds and gemstones.

Cut diamonds accounted for 30% and cut gemstones for another 20% of the country’s total gem and jewelry exports last year, worth $2.3 billion. Jewelry accounted for the balance of exports, Narong says.

The association plans to launch an international jewelry award to attract both amateur and professional designers, who would be required to use indigenous diamonds and precious stones.

A Jewelry Fashion Institute also is planned. The institute is aimed at strengthening local design capacity, with 6,000 new craftsmen expected to graduate within three years, Narong says.