Business Times

Huge presence by China at Gem and Jewellery exhibition

By Quintus Perera

China, which has made inroads into Sri Lanka mega project sector and other areas of the economy, had a significance presence at this week’s Facets Sri Lanka 2010 Gem and Jewellery Exhibition currently on at the BMICH.

There was a 200-strong delegation from China while there were many Russians and Indians too.
The Chinese delegation was led by Ms Huang Shan, Vice Chairman, Chinese Organization for the Promotion of International Trade and Wilson K W Yuen, President, International Coloured Gemstone Association, Hong Kong.

On the opening day Mr Yuen told the Business Times that they are to establish a good relationship with gemstone authorities in Sri Lanka and Asia to develop standardization of coloured stones. He said that he was here to promote Coloured Stones in the Chinese Market. They are to establish relationships between Coloured Gem dealers of China and Sri Lanka.

The Gem and Jewellery industry indicated that due to the war raging in Sri Lanka the Sri Lanka Gem trade has almost lost the traditional markets of Europe and America. Macky Hashim, Chairman, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association said that there have been tremendous improvements to the Gem and Jewellery Industry being abreast with international designs and in exports. In terms of technology, cutting, manufacturing ofjewellery and in heat treatment of gems there has been vast improvements. He said that in addition to the 200 Chinese, there is a 30-member delegation from India for the first time in the history of Facets.

He said that the number of stalls has increased by 10 % and they expected sales to the tune of $1.5 million during the show and orders would be more than $500 million. He said that Sri Lanka’s main product is sapphires and there are other producing countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Tanzania and few African countries. Today, the gem trading hub is Thailand and all the European and American buyers who were patronizing the Sri Lankan market have now been attracted by the Thailand market.

Chanaka Ellawala, Chairman, Facets Organizing Committee said that the gem and jewellery traders in Sri Lanka are striving hard to make Sri Lanka as the hub in gem and jewellery industry. As they have lost the old market, they are now encouraging new markets such as China, India, Russia, and several other countries. He said the first hub was Hong Kong and with the entry of American and European buyers, the hub moved to Thailand.

He said that gaining hub status is a very difficult task and said that though the industry could handle this difficult task, the government should also have to support their efforts. But as things are, he said, state support is not forthcoming. He said that the recent media reports that the issuing of visas on arrival to be cancelled is very disturbing news for their industry.

Mr Ellawala said that foreign gem buyers should be free to visit Sri Lanka and they should be afforded to purchase gems with no difficulty and there should be a moderate tax system that would definitely support the industry and their attempts to make Sri Lanka the ‘Spot for Gem and Jewellery in the world’.
Ahsan Feefai, Managing Director, Zamgems - sellers of very expensive gems told Business Times that the earlier highly expensive gem Pathmaraja Cats Eye, they possessed was sold and now they have Alexandrite highly priced at $1 million and its colour changes from emerald green to raspberry red. He said that this gemstone was mined in Sri Lanka.

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