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Bangkok Gems Fair Focuses on Niche Markets

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Six specific markets were highlighted.

The revamped Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair closed on Sunday with its new government organizers expressing quiet confidence that it would help Thailand secure its position as Southeast Asia’s jewelry trading hub.

The trade show, one of two held by an official export promotion agency each year to showcase Thai gems and jewelry goods, had more of a local feel this year, with 625 Thai traders and manufacturers and 105 foreign exhibitors (down from 150 last year) displaying their goods from some 2,000 booths. The crowds walking the aisles were also predominantly local or from elsewhere in Asia or the Middle East.

This regional focus was reflected in the thematic heart of the fair: A “Concept Showcase” targeting six niche markets:

  • “60+” — jewelry for senior citizens.
  • “Pet Parade” — jewelry for pets.
  • “The Moment” — bridal lines.
  • “Metro Men” — gems and jewelry for men.
  • “Spiritual Power” — gems and jewelry of “opulence, spiritual, beliefs, and horoscope.”
  • “Culture Club” — artisanal craft jewelry influenced by traditional Thai styles and workmanship.

The bridal jewelry was clearly targeted at Chinese and Indian markets, while the Spiritual Power designs were evidently aimed at East Asian customers. The 60+ and Pet Parade showcases, while specifically looking to appeal to the Japanese market, represent interesting ideas with universal potential.

Yuchi Metani, a Japanese design consultant who acted as an adviser to the show, said the “60+” jewelry was intended to be timeless with an emphasis on comfort.

“This group of consumers lives in a carefree (manner) with a young-at-heart mindset,” Metani said. “Therefore, they admire comfort, timeless beauty, elegant jewelry which makes them look younger than their age.”

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Soft-colored jewelry such as designs featuring pink and champagne gold were popular with Japanese women, he said, because it matched their complexions and made their skin glow, unlike silver jewelry, which was viewed to be unflattering on older women.

Similar to the North American market, pet jewelry, once seen as gimmicky, is becoming a serious market involving serious amounts of money. Matching designs for both the “pet parent” and Felix or Daisy are one way to double up on sales, Metani said.

“Pet lovers, especially the elderly, tend to pay a lot of money for their beloved pet no matter how expensive those products are,” Metani said. While he was talking about Japanese pet-owners, he could just as easily have been talking about owners of Boston terriers or Ragdolls in the U.S.

Thailand’s government, currently ruled by the military following a coup in 2014, has identified the local jewelry industry – the 10th largest in the world – as a key source of export revenue and in January unveiled a batch of tax breaks on raw material imports as well as industrial support programs for Thai jewelry manufacturers.

In 2017, the country is targeting jewelry exports of $7.32 billion, up 5 percent from last year. The U.S. is the third most important market for Thai gems and jewelry, accounting for about 12 percent of its exports.

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