by Yvonne Luk
Thai jewellery manufacturing has grown steadily and consistently over the last five years. According to The Silver Institute’s 2010 World Silver Survey,Thailand remained the biggest silver jewellery producing country in 2009. Silver Styles finds out how that was achieved.
Statistics from the Thai Customs Department and Ministry of Commerce showed that $419 million worth of silver jewellery was exported from January to May last year. The US continued to be the biggest market, importing some $176 million worth.
In 2009, the Thailand exported silver jewellery valued at around $956 million, up more than 10 percent from the previous year. “Silver jewellery in Thailand is growing strong as more jewellery makers have expanded their lines to include it. This could not have been done by individual companies, but by the joint efforts of the entire Thai jewellery industry”, the first Vice President of Bangkok Gems and Jewellery Fair, Prapee Sorakraikitikul told Silver Styles.
A good year for substantial growth
If we look at the silver jewellery developments in Thailand last year, we can conclude that 2010 was a great 12 months for the industry, with some manufacturers reporting considerable growth. Regal Jewelry Manufacture Co Ltd and Grace of Art Co Ltd are among those who did very well.
Reviewing their performance, Regal Jewelry said overall sales were very promising; about 30 percent higher than that of 2009. The company’s vice managing director, Iris Lin attributed the good results to support from the Thai government and the company’s response to new market demands.
To remain competitive, Regal Jewelry has equipped itself with new technology which has improved product quality and production capacity. The company also pays close attention to market demands. “We saw the growing demand for silver jewellery, especially for high quality branded products. So we have continuously improved products and prepared ourselves to supply this market segment.”
The company produces medium-to-high-end silver pieces from its factory near the Southwest border of Bangkok which employs 4,000 workers. Lin says Regal Jewelry produces more silver jewellery than ever, often delivering more than a million pieces per month.
Grace of Art Co Ltd, which always pays attention to product designs and quality, also recorded a 30 percent growth over 2010. Export manager Tanyaporn Chiewhutpong said identifying the growing market for silver jewellery and making it the company’s main business over the last five years, has won it international recognition.
Today, silver jewellery comprises approximately 97 percent of the company’s output, of which 70 percent is exported to overseas, mainly to the Middle East, Turkey and Russia.
Original design is just the start
The continued growth of Grace of Art Co Ltd since it was founded in1982 can also be attributed to its product designs. Says Chiewhutpong: “Design is one of the company’s strengths. We are good at integrating designs with different styles: matching them with a variety of raw materials to create extraordinary pieces. We also create unique and avant-garde collections to attract new customers and explore business opportunities.”
Recently the company launched silver jewellery embellished with resin flowers. The wholesaling prices of small pieces range from $35 to $70 and bigger, more intricate or elaborate pieces range from $100 to $600.
Goldlip Jewellery also focuses on designs and good quality in order to differentiate its products. The company produces a wide range of jewellery with designs inspired by Mother Nature. Its popular pieces include sterling silver with natural and organic shapes set with coloured gemstones, mother of pearl, pearls and crystals.
Managing director Tal Jakov Levran explained: “We have been working on designs that embrace the wonders of the Earth and include elements such as earth, water, fire and air. Some are shaped like coral and shells, and others are flowers, leaves and ferns.”
However, evolving your business takes more than good design, stressed Levran: “The originality of design is the key; but craftsmanship, service quality and marketing are also important and none of them should be neglected.”
Goldlip Jewellery exports almost all of its products, with Europe, Asia, Australia and the US the main markets. Wholesale prices range from $15 to $100.
Strengthening export opportunites
Chokas Jewelry is also focusing on expanding its export business. Currently, its strongest markets are Europe and the US, according to managing director, Arisanee Chokasut, who says: “All silver pieces produced by the company are exported. We have been attracting overseas orders with our outstanding designs, rigorous quality control and the best prices. Gradually, we have gained confidence from overseas customers which has increased our product competitiveness.”
Chokasut says the company specialises in creating “modern classic”silver jewellery, combining on-trend elements with traditional designs to create a whole new aesthetic. Chokas Jewelry is currently producing around 20,000 pieces of jewellery every month, which are all exported to the US and Scandinavian markets.
The way to strengthen export business is to nurture good and long-term relationships with the right clients. That’s according to the people at La Divas Jewelry Co Ltd whose exports last year exceeded $3.80 million: mostly to European markets and the US.
They maintain that focus on building relationships is just as important as original designs and a good quality service.
Established in 2005, La Divas Jewelry has been offering silver pieces with crystals, and recently developed collections made with high-quality cubic zirconia. Said managing director Ngamkiat Chainiwattana: “Our best sellers include silver rings embedded with big crystals of different colours. In order to expand our collections, we regularly add new designs using superior Stellux or Swarovski crystals to create fashionable pieces.”
She added that the company pays a lot of attention to product design and that Original Equipment Manufaccturer (OEM) barely accounts for one-tenth of its products, with the majority coming from its in-house designers. The manufacturing part is left to its sister company, Dazzle Link Co Ltd, which has a plant in Gemopolise, a Free Zone in Bangkok’s metropolitan area, that employs 160 workers, producing 50,000 pieces each month, an increase on last year’s output.
Looking ahead to a brighter future
In conclusion, it appears the Thai silver industry is healthy and manufacturers are optimistic about the future, believing silver jewellery’s position in the market can only improve as it continues to benefit from high gold prices.
Sutham Narula, vice-president of Bangkok Gems and Jewellery Fair and owner of Thai silver jewellery manufacturing company, Benetone Jewelry, has a slightly different view, he says: “Consumers are beginning to accept the price of silver because it was very much underpriced in the beginning. In my opinion, I do not see that it will increase further.”
Having been in the business for 40 years, Narula’s knowledge and expertise would be difficult to equal. His faith in silver is unwavering and he estimates that its value will remain in the vicinity of $18-22 per ounce “for a while”.
“I’m still very confident in this white metal. Although I have left it to my children to run the business, I keep telling them the prospects for silver jewellery are unlimited.”