Inaugural Yangon gems and jewellery fair to promote value-added products, say organisers

Organisers of an international gems and jewellery fair in Yangon this month say a boycott of precious stones from Myanmar by some luxury brands because of the crisis over Rakhine State is unlikely to have a significant impact on the industry.

Yangon International Gems and Jewellery Fair 2018 is being hosted by the Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs’ Association (Yangon) at the Lotte Hotel from January 11 to 14. It will be the first such event to promote finished products, the organisers said.

The fair comes amid a boycott of Myanmar gems by luxury brands, such as Cartier, in protest at violence in northern Rakhine that sent more than 650,000 people fleeing to safety in neighbouring Bangladesh after attacks by Islamic militants late last August.

“I don’t think such a ban will have much impact on our gems and jewellery industry; Myanmar gems such as rubies, jade and sapphires are already popular worldwide,” said Daw Myo Myo Thant, vice-chairperson (3) of the association.

“How can you stop someone from buying gems and jewellry? There are countless people in the world who want to have Myanmar gems,” Myo Myo Thant told Frontier on January 2. “The accusations are groundless,” she said.

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The association is organising the fair with support from Myanmar Gems Enterprise and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

“The major aim is to create an international gems and jewellery market here, in our country,” said U Thein Win Zaw, the association’s chairperson.

He said it was common for foreign buyers at gems emporiums held in Nay Pyi Taw to acquire raw stones for value-adding outside Myanmar.

“We have seen how other countries make a profit by adding value to our raw stones for decades,” Thein Win Zaw told Frontier on January 2.

“In the past, we lacked technology; now we have the technology and are ready to produce such jewellery,” he said.

“All the items displayed at this fair are finished products or value-added products by local gems firms,” he said, adding that domestic companies would have about 100 booths at the fair.

Thein Zaw Win said more than 1,000 foreign gem merchants and about 30,000 Myanmar counterparts had been invited to the fair.

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