Asian brands at BaselWorld

October 2003

Many Asian jewellery brands are moving into the global marketplace as the quality, design and originality of their products are becoming increasing recognized around the world. Offering competitive prices, due mostly to lower labour costs than in Europe or the United States, they have a relatively large pool of highly skilled workers producing small to medium diamond and gemstone pieces. The following offers a brief look at the Asian jewellery landscape.

Thailand: A reflection of their exotic and colourful surroundings, Thai jewellers are known not only for their sparkling gemstones and nature-inspired designs, but also for contemporary diamond-set pieces. According to the Thai government, the country has assumed the world's Number One position as an exporter of fine jewellery, surpassing Hong Kong and Italy in only a few years. The initial reason was the inexpensive labour market but this has changed over the last decade as salaries and costs have risen and craftsmanship has become more sophisticated and original.

Among the many creative Thai brands at BaselWorld are: Zorab, with its bold colourful designs; Gamma Creations, founded by French jeweller Jacques Prades; Jacobs Jewellery, making a wide selection of modern gold and pavé pieces. Others include the colourful Prima Gems and Jewel Décor as well as silver specialist Beauty Ever Jewelry Corp.

Japan: In Japan, lifestyles have been evolving over the last few decades, tending more towards individualization. One of the effects of these changes is an increased demand for jewellery, in both quantity and quality. While pearls are a major export product, there are a number of award-winning designers who are reaching out to international markets with high quality and original products. Among them is Casmine, which uses pearls in novel ways to create fanciful pendants and earrings.

India: India has made remarkable strides in the world of jewellery over the last few decades. Known traditionally for the local consumption of elaborate gold jewellery, the nation has emerged as one of the world's major players in the diamond industry. India's huge labour force and government support have allowed the nation to claim a large share of the production of cut and polished diamonds. Today, it counts more than 7,000 diamond exporters, 25,000 diamond manufacturers and 750,000 workers. In addition to its growing cutting business, Indian companies are expanding into the production of finished jewellery as is the case of Bapalal Keshavlal.

Various other countries: The Philippines also produces a number of jewellery firms, including Jewelmer, known for its South Sea pearls, in particular the rare golden pearls. Many other nations are also present, such as participants from Sri Lanka, specializing in precious gemstones. Taiwan counts a number of interesting designers among its ranks, namely Arthur Li-Ro who was present last year in Zurich with her original and eclectic mixes of East and West. While not as highly developed as some of its neighbours, Singapore's jewellery industry is doing well in export markets with a blend of moderately priced gem-set jewellery and some classic popular-priced designs. The Korean jewellery industry is rapidly expanding into global markets thanks to its unique designs, competitive prices and a skilled labour force that is adept at meeting the tastes of an international clientele. Many designers have won prizes in global competitions for their creations. Among the better known companies are Lee Gold, Core Jewellery, Far East Gem and Angevin.

The Asian brands represent a wide variety of styles and price ranges and contribute to the overall eclectic and cosmopolitan mix that is one of the welcome and defining characteristics of BaselWorld.