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News & Highlight


  • Promotional event of World Ruby Forum at the 59th BGJF
  • unheated mozambican ruby from veerasak gems
  • veerasak gems’ 8.03-carat heart shape ruby won 1st prize in traditional heated category of the ruby contest.
  • World Gemstone’s booth
  • The award-winning rubies of the Ruby Contest
  • Polished rubies from World Gemstone
  • Unheated Mozambican ruby from Gemburi
  • World Gemstone’s workshop

The ruby wisdom in Thailand

Statistics from the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT) show that in 2016 Thailand’s overall export value of gem and jewellery products surged 29.6 percent to US$14,247.6 million compared to 2015. Coloured stone was the fourth most prominent product with a share of 7.49 percent, fetching a 2.41-percent growth compared to the preceding year. Under the coloured stone category, the export value of polished precious stones went up 6.51 percent, among which ruby earned a share of around 41 percent, a 16.37-percent increase from the previous year. “Export value of ruby accounted for a 1.93-percent share of the country’s total export value of gem and jewellery products, with key export markets in Hong Kong, the United States and Switzerland,” revealed Pornsawat Wathanakul, director of GIT.

From the above, export figures reconfirmed Thailand’s position as the world’s ruby manufacturing and trading centre, which is especially the case in the global economic downturn and weak market sentiment. Hong Kong Jewellery talked with GIT and some renowned Thai ruby manufacturers on the Thai ruby industry, past and present.

Reputation and expertise

Decades ago, there were only two origins of ruby in the market namely Burmese ruby and Siamese ruby. While the former has been breaking world auction records in recent years, the later was depleted after over 50 years of mining, which leaves the world nothing but a legend. The good thing is Thai miners, craftsmen and traders had the opportunities to learn how to sort, cut, treat and trade rubies, and these areas of expertise have become a Thai wisdom and created a complete value chain of ruby production in Thailand, said Pornsawat Wathanakul.

Chanthaburi was the origin of Siamese rubies. After the ruby resource had been depleted, the province evolved successfully from a mining area to a gemstone manufacturing and processing base, which is dubbed ‘City of Gems’. Phuket Khunaprapakorn, president of Chanthaburi-based Gemburi which is a manufacturer and wholesaler of rubies and sapphires, told Hong Kong Jewellery that for the long-term development of the industry, local practitioners have mastered exclusive techniques, obtained rich experience in manufacturing rubies from heating to cutting and polishing, and trained and recruited skilled workers to support the expanding business scale and market demand.

Also as the president of Chanthaburi Gem & Jewelry Traders Association, Khunaprapakorn said that in the past Chanthaburi had access to limited raw materials mostly from the domestic market. Later on, local gem-traders turned to overseas markets mainly in Africa, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, etc to find new and consistent supply of rough rubies and sapphires. As experience accumulated, they have gained the ability to distinguish the quality of rough rubies and developed various heating techniques for different types of the stone. “It is crucial to select the most appropriate heating technique to apply to a rough stone and to generate consistent results in high quality and success rate after heating. The main reason underlying this know-how is the experience gained from trial and error for many years,” he noted.  

“Approximately 80 percent of the world’s ruby production passes through Thailand for cutting and processing before being distributed across the world. Thus, Thailand is considered the world’s largest ruby manufacturing base,” Pornsawat Wathanakul pointed out. “Thai entrepreneurs possess many decades of superior experience in ruby processing, especially heat treatments.” 

Regarding the local wisdom of heat treatments, she stated that Thai ruby craftsmen know how to select the right rough stones and which condition of heating is suitable for rubies from different origins. The Thai ruby industry’s reputation has been built because of this wisdom, and “such expertise has remained unbeatable” compared with other gemstone processing centres like China, India, and Sri Lanka. 

Status quo

According to Wathanakul, lately ruby trading in Thailand has been stagnant as the global economy remains unstable, together with the shortage of raw materials and skilled labours. In a bid to sustainably assist the industry, the Thai government has taken initiatives concerning raw material access, skilled labour trainings and pro-trade taxation policies.

World Gemstone is Thailand’s major gemstone wholesaler with in-house skilled craftsmen and main markets in mainland China and Hong Kong. Supak Wuthipanyakom, manager of the company, told Hong Kong Jewellery that in Bangkok, the manufacturing of coloured gemstones is still running but not as much as two years ago, due to the declining market and the resulting shrink of gemstone processing business. As for ruby trading, she said: “It is still good in terms of production volume and market demand, whereas the price level customers would accept is a bit lower than that of two years ago. One exception is that high quality rubies are always sought-after.” 

“I personally believe that ruby trading is less impacted by the economic downturn, as there is a huge demand from mainland China. More and more Chinese customers participate in major trade fairs worldwide looking for products,” Gemburi’s Phuket Khunaprapakorn elaborated. While the demand for high quality rubies is always there, he thinks that the real problem is the shortage of rough rubies. He said that at the moment, apart from Gemfields ruby auctions and the auctions in Myanmar, local practitioners can hardly find any new purchase channel of the raw material. Even though some local companies have been looking for rough rubies in other countries, it requires a much larger budget to do so.

Established in 1982, Bangkok-based Veerasak Gems specialises in manufacturing and exporting high-quality rubies sourced from Myanmar and Mozambique directly, with a broad client network around the globe. The company’s vice president Tanya Trirotanan commented that even the statistics have shown how great the industry’s performance is; in the view of end-consumers, they rarely know the Thai expertise on coloured gemstones. “This obviously shows that Thailand is lacking in the promotion of its expertise in some way. In my view, it is one of the problems we should solve...If we approach this field correctly, I strongly believe we can lead our industry to the next step,” she added.

World Ruby Forum

When it comes to promotion, it is worth mentioning World Ruby Forum (WRF) which will be held concurrently with CIBJO Congress in November 2017 in Bangkok. Organised by GIT in collaboration with its partners including the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), the Asian Institute ofGemological Sciences (AIGS), Jewelry Trade Center (JTC) in Bangkok and the Association of Gemmology for France (AFG), WRF aims to raise awareness and create accurate understanding on ruby to both practitioners and the general public, and boost the status of ruby as one of Thailand’s most important exported jewels. 

“The key activities of WRF are talks on various topics regarding ruby such as mining, manufacturing, design, marketing and jewellery, conducted by ruby experts from all over the world,” says GIT’s Pornsawat Wathanakul. She also reveals that GIT will organise a warm-up event in which a contest for WRF’s logo and slogan will be held during the 60th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF).

During‭ ‬the last BGJF, the institute launched some promotional events for WRF. The ‘Ruby Contest: The Most Beautiful Ruby Awards’ was one of them, which was divided into unheated ruby and traditional heated categories, and five out of 12 prizes in both categories went to Veerasak Gems. Tanya Trirotanan of the company spoke highly of WRF and the contest. “It is a great idea to have the forum and the contest organised by GIT. The contest drew public attention to the Thai ruby industry, and the forum will definitely help promote the industry overall,”she concluded. 


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