Thousands of traders attend gems fair as Thailand's jewellery exports defy economic headwinds to reach record highs

Thousands of traders attended Bangkok's gem and jewellery fair as the industry defied economic headwinds to reach record highs.

Retailers had feared the high-end industry would be hit by the wider economic slowdown combined with trade friction between the U.S. and China.

But industry figures said the ''better craftsmanship and design quality'' of Thai gems and jewellery would see exports soar by up to 10 per cent this year.

The industry - currently worth 12 billion dollars annually - showed off its wares at the Bangkok Gems & Jewellery Fair 2019 on Saturday and Sunday with 900 exhibitors and dealers from around the world making orders.

Banjongjitt Angsusingh, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said he believes Thailand's gem and jewellery exports would increase by up to three per cent this year.

He said: ''Thai gems and jewellery still have strong points such as better craftsmanship and design quality than those of other exporters. More importantly, Thai gems and jewellery come up with product variety.''

Boonkij Jitngamlang, president of the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association, predicted exports could increase by up to 10 per cent in 2019.

He told the Bangkok Post that provincial manufacturers and suppliers could drive the increase with improved ''innovation, marketing and branding.''

The boom has been fuelled by demand from China and India. While Thailand's has the world's highest number of silver shipments with most going to the U.S. market.

Gem and jewellery exports rank third in Thailand's total exports.