Could you share the history of Thailand’s silver jewellery?
Thailand is the biggest exporter of silver jewellery in the world. We have a beautiful long history, culture, religious beliefs and practices. The knowledge of jewellery making started in the royal palace and has been passed down from generation to generation for 200 years from when the country was called Siam. That is why we have such a strong knowledge to make such beautiful jewellery. All of these elements create an environment of craftsmanship that is embedded in the DNA of Thai people. Thailand has been supplying silver jewellery to the world for over 50 years. Thailand’s jewellery designs and manufacturing are accepted worldwide. I think this is the major reason that Thailand is so well respected for its expertise in silver jewellery making nowadays.
What is the structure of Thai silver jewellery manufacturing in Thailand?
More than half of people employed in the industry work for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) located across Thailand. This is a major advantage. If there were just one company or a few big companies, they could not generate such diversified designs and concepts. In Thailand, there are more than 12,000 small and medium enterprises, so you can see that a large number of people are involved in the industry creating designs to manufacturing.
How has the coronavirus affected the work of craftspeople and manufacturing in Thailand’s silver jewelry industry?
Thailand’s jewelry industry has been affected since the end of March when the government introduced a lockdown so people couldn’t work in many facilities. However, the value of Thai silver jewellery exports decreased by only 9% when comparing with the same period last year (January-May 2019). This is better than many other economic sectors. We had strong orders at the beginning of this year before COVID-19 occurred.
What are the main markets for Thai silver jewellery exports?
Our top markets are the US, Germany, the UK, China, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. India is a very interesting emerging market for Thailand’s silver jewellery. If we were not talking about COVID-19 I think the US would still a big purchaser of silver jewellery from Thailand. As soon as any country recovers from COVID-19, then it will become our potential market.
How have TSEA and the Thai silver jewellery industry showcased the industry’s talent and silver jewellery craftsmanship at the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair (BGJF)?
For TSEA, we have more than 100 well-known manufacturers exporting silver jewellery. We have worked closely with the DITP, and our association has always participated at and supported the BGJF. In the past, we have arranged booths showcasing and distributing our members’ products. But right now, we are collaborating with the BGJF by DITP very closely to organise a large Siam Silver Showcase which will show the full range of Thai silver jewellery. Designs have changed a lot, and we have many new brands to showcase silver jewellery trends for the coming season. This is an event that people involved in the industry should not miss.
Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi