Mr. Prida Tiasuwan, Board Chairman of Pranda Jewelry Plc.

Gem and Jewelry in the Digital Age

Technological disruption which have immensely agitated many industries during the past few years may be intimidating for some people. However, some others see these substantial challenges as "new opportunities" if we learn to cope with and find ways to utilize technological innovations.

Among the latter group of people is "Mr. Prida Tiasuwan," Board Chairman of Pranda Jewelry Plc. and Thailand’s leading gem and jewelry entrepreneur. He is aware of influence of modern technology upon the business such as 3D printer which has played an important role in jewelry manufacturing process while digital communication methods of the digital age have swayed market channels of many industries.

"Marketing has changed tremendously during the past 5 years because technology disruption has created significant changes. I see this as an opportunity. Technology enables entrepreneurs to directly reach consumers without going through middlemen like it was in the past."

The Pranda’s executive also believes that online trading will develop further. Share of gem and jewelry products sold online will increase as customers gain more confidence in such trading method.

"Formerly, we might believe that only cheap products were sold online but in the future more expensive products will be sold because when consumers gain more confidence, they are ready to pay for the products. Many websites selling gem and jewelry have been doing their business online for a decade and have constantly developed. These days, precise images of products are available, customers can browse through images to see certain product in different angles similar to looking at a real product. Moreover, payment systems are convenient and warranty for products are also offered."

Apart from saving customers’ time in traveling and offering convenience in choosing products of more affordable prices, gem and jewelry entrepreneurs also greatly benefit from technological innovations. Mr. Prida explained that distributors can reduce costs in many aspects such as rental fee for a space in a mall, sales staff wages, and commissions. However, they need employees to produce alluring photographs to be displayed on their websites.

"Increasing number of consumers buying products online is a challenge for gem and jewelry trading fairs. They have to pay attention because business operators who used to bring their products to be showcased and sold at the fairs may cease their participation as they can sell online which is able to directly reach their customers. I think this is a significant movement of technology and we have to carefully consider how much it affect the industry."

Pranda has already prepared for digital trends for some time. We have created our website and sold jewelry products online for a decade. Satisfying feedback has been received with consistent growth rate in sales of around 20-30% per year.

Employees Are "the Core" of Our Manufacturing

Besides being able to adapt to keep up with changes in the digital world, Mr. Prida said that Pranda also holds primary strength in "employees" which are considered "the core" of manufacturing.

"We see our employees as artists who create beautiful works. They are not perceived as just ‘a part’ of manufacturing process but they are ‘the core’ of manufacturing. Thus, we have to look after our employees well by making them feel that their workplace is their second home. We train our employees to have a spirit of a fine artwork creator or the Architecture of Craftsmanship."

However, "human resources" are going to be a key challenge while Thailand is entering aging society with decreasing labors. Every industry face increasing difficulty in recruiting workforce, particularly, gem and jewelry industry, which requires workforce with more specific qualifications than other industries.

"This industry build skills in creating craftworks for people. The skills can be used to make a living for a lifetime unlike some industries which labors do simple tasks replaceable by machines or robots. Other industries can also bring in foreign labors to replace Thai labors. In contrast, gem and jewelry industry dealing with manufacturing valuable products requiring intricacy from labors with craftsmanship skills. We need time to train our personnel so we want trained employees to stay with us for a long time. Consequently, we prefer hiring local labors because we believe that Thai labors will stay with the company longer." Mr. Prida explained and urged governmental sector to realize importance of promoting and creating personnel for the gem and jewelry industry and he is confident that the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) or GIT can help bring together collaboration from many sectors to push forward the matter.

"I want the government to induce labors from industries which do not create value added to transfer to the gem and jewelry industry which creates tremendous value added to the nation. GIT should collaborate with the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Industry, and Ministry of Science and Technology as well as other educational institutes to arrange educational programs to make Thai people realize of the industry’s importance and become interested in working in the industry."

Apart from being an organization of learning and personnel development of the industry, Mr. Prida thought that GIT could be a key jigsaw puzzle to fulfill and play an important role for Thai gem and jewelry industry in the long run, especially in product quality certification and building buyers’ confidence.

"The industry has many small enterprises which are not capable of certifying their own products. Therefore, they need certifications from GIT which could support small enterprises in quality certification for raw materials and products."

New Generations with New Fascinating Idea

As a veteran in the industry, Mr. Prida gave advice to new generations who wish to come into the business that if they want to be successful in the era, they have to have new idea to deliver products able to create striking reaction and generate value added to the industry.

"They need to produce different products which wow people. If they want to make products that are already available then they should not do it. Because there are plenty of such products. I think that large-scale manufacturing is unnecessary. In the digital age, operators of businesses of every scale can sell their products through the Internet. If they have good products, they can control their production. Nowadays, many new selling channels are available."

For Pranda, Mr. Prida said that the company has formed its clear future plans. However, they can be seriously shaken by technological disruption as well.

"Technology can cause major changes that affect our plans. But no matter what it would be, as long as human beings have desire to adorn themselves, love themselves, and love to give beautiful items to their loved ones, I am confident that the gem and jewelry industry will still move forward. Pranda will walk on the path believing that people adore alluring items. We will train our employees to be creators of fine jewelry pieces. However, we have been facing major challenge in recruiting "personnel" to work. Eventually, if Thailand has lower number of working labors or labor shortage, we will expand our business in Vietnam where we have opened our manufacturing factories for 20 years." Mr. Prida said.

Despite many challenges in different aspects such as technology, labor, and raw material, Mr. Prida is still confident that naturally, Thailand is one of the world’s gem and jewelry manufacturing and trading centers. The government’s official announcement of the goal has emphasized the industry’s potential.

"Thailand has developed the gem and jewelry industry during the past 50-60 years. Thai people have skills in producing jewelry since ancient time. Thai people loved to create exquisite objects which the craftsmanship has been passing down for generations. In spite of shortage of raw materials in Thailand, they can be imported from neighboring countries and other regions. Possession of such craftsmanship and Thailand’s being a natural hub makes the official announcement the government’s profound vision." Mr. Prida concluded.