Sunday, June 21, 2009

First Cambodia Gems and Jewelry Fair held in Phnom Penh

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The first Cambodian Gems and Jewelry Fair was conducted over four days from June 18 to 21 at the Inter-Continental Hotel. Over 30 jewelry companies occupied about 100 booths, with representatives from Cambodia, China and Thailand attending.

The gems and jewelry fair was organized by the Ministry of Commerce to promote the Cambodian jewelry industry on both local and international markets.

Tep Bopha Prasidh, wife of Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, said that the Ministry of Commerce has a broad vision in promoting Cambodian trade and this luxury event formed part of that vision.

“Cambodia is a golden land with numerous treasures in many areas such as Pailin, Takeo, Rattanakiri and Kampong Thom. Moreover, Cambodian or “Khmer” jewelry has a long history, dating back to the early Angkor era. Unfortunately, the Khmer Rouge regime devastated our golden land, causing collapse of the gems and jewelry trade, resulting in the loss of reputation,” she said during her opening remarks.

Bopha pointed out that today, almost all sectors in Cambodia have enjoyed steady growth under the administration of the Royal Government of Cambodia, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The Ministry of Commerce initiated the trade fair to reenergize the Cambodian gems and jewelry sector and raise its profile on local and international markets.

She concluded, “I hope this annual jewelry fair will help the jewelry sector flourish.”

Mao Thora, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Commerce, said that in 1960s there were plentiful supplies of gems, gold, minerals and other natural resources in Cambodia.

The Secretary of State said that however, due to the civil war and illegal mining activities over two decades, these resources were now almost completely exhausted.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Commerce has encouraged local jewelers to promote their goods in countries such as Thailand, China and India, said Thora, speaking to reporters at the exhibition.

He added that through the attendances of gems and jewelry fairs abroad, Cambodia gems have been recognized as one of the best gems quality in the world.

“I hope”, he said “that this annual jewelry festival will help us find international markets for our jewelers in future.”

Tay Heab, Director of the Pailin Gems Company based in Pailin province attended the gems and jewelry fair. He came equipped with 15 different categories of gems for display at the exhibition.

Heap said that all the gems were collected by his Pailin company and prices ranged from US$ 300 to US$ 20,000 per karat.

“It is the first time that my company has attended such an industry fair. I hope that through this event, I will find business partners to help me export my products abroad,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.

Por Veasna, General Manager of Angkor Thom Thmei Co., Ltd, another firm of jewelers was also at the fair. Her company has over 10 different kinds of gems for display at the Phnom Penh exhibition.

She said that the gems were bought from Takeo, Pursat, Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces and that the jewelry had been imported from Belgium and Russia.

She added that her gems could fetch anywhere between US$ 1,000 to US$ 50,000 per karat, whilst the jewelry could be bought for as little as US$ 100 per item, all the way up to US$ 20,000. ///

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