Mr. Veerasak Trirotanan, President of Veerasak Gems Co., Ltd.
Becoming the Prominent "Gemstone"
"Ruby," an alluring red gemstone, captures hearts of many people including "Mr. Veerasak Trirotanan," President of Veerasak Gems Co., Ltd.
He has turned his fascination in this red gemstone’s enchantment into a profession from which he earns a living.
Mr. Veerasak told us that he entered gem and jewelry industry when he was 16 years old. He started as a goldsmith, making jewelry settings. He learn the craftsmanship from his boss who taught him everything until he mastered the craftsmanship. After that, he established his own factory producing jewelry settings. It was then that he became aware of what attracted him more than jewelry setting which he had produced all along were rubies mounted on gold setting.
"Every gemstone bears its own naturally unique charm. Each of them is completely different. I saw gemstones and became fond of them. I began to study more about gemstones and started learning to trade them in Chanthaburi, Thailand’s famous ruby source at the time. Later, I embarked on establishing Veerasak Gems Company," Mr. Veerasak talked about his starting point in gemstone business. He then explained, "I began doing gemstone business in 1982 when I was 25 years old. At the time, Chanthaburi was teemed with gemstones. I went to gemstone mines, bought gemstones from gem markets, and brought them back to be cut and polished. I even practiced on doing quality enhancement by myself."
Meanwhile, I also conducted gemstone business with Myanmar. The country remained closed off to the world so I had to rely on Myanmar gem traders who brought gemstones to be sold at border areas. Most of rubies from Myanmar back then were from mines in Mogok.
"At the time, there were Myanmar people bringing gemstones to sell in border areas of Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai and Mae Sot district of Tak. I crossed the borders to Tachileik, adjacent to Mae Sai. Small and large rubies were available for selection but mostly were smaller compared to Siamese rubies. However, Myanmar rubies were of softer tones than that of Thai rubies," Mr. Veerasak talked about gemstone trading in the past.
From his nearly 4 decades of experience, Mr. Veerasak said gemstone markets have changed tremendously. Currently, mines in Thailand have been depleted. We need to import gemstones from countries such as Myanmar and Mozambique. Gemstones from different sources have their own distinctive beauty.
"My company sells rubies and sapphires. We import gemstones from Myanmar and Mozambique. Though, Myanmar rubies are the most famous, personally, I like rubies from Myanmar and Mozambique because they possess different beauty. Myanmar rubies are in softer tones with longer history. Mozambique is a new source for rubies. We started importing from the source in 2010. Rubies from the source bear similar color tones to those from Myanmar. Some of them are comparable to rubies from Thailand where as some are very much alike Myanmar rubies."
Business Management with "Honesty" As the Principle
When asked about his business management tips enabling the company to reach the forefront position of the industry, Mr. Veerasak clearly stated that he adheres to being honest and trustworthy toward his customers.
"Honesty is the most important thing in doing business. If we are honest to our profession, we will become successful."
At present, customers of Veerasak Gems are wholesale dealers, most of which are foreigners. They are from European countries, the US, Hong Kong, and China. Each of these markets has slightly different demand for products. Mr. Veerasak elaborated that "European customers prefer fine stones in large sizes. This may be to suit their figures. Asian customers also likes quality stones but in smaller sizes."
Mr. Veerasak said that doing gemstone business need to pay attention to every process from raw material selection, polishing, gemstone quality enhancement to marketing. At present, Veerasak Gems has gained extensive recognition in product quality, meticulous cutting and polishing, and services from company’s staff. Thus, customers are confident that every piece of the company’s products are complete with standard and quality.
He also pointed out challenges in doing gemstone business that there has been a shortage of skilled craftsmen, without new additional craftsmen. Training each craftsman to master skills needs a long time and requires high costs. Therefore, he suggested that the government could promote skilled labor development by including a gemstone cutting and polishing program in vocational education.
"If vocational colleges offer a gemstone cutting polishing program, they will help generating personnel much extensively. Such program should provide theoretical and practical training so that graduates can enter labor market and start working right away," Mr. Veerasak explained.
Quality Certification Is Vital in Modern Day Gemstone Trading
Regarding marketing aspect, Mr. Veerasak talked about differences between the past and the present that gemstone market was not as large as the current market.
Gemstone trading relied on mutual trust between sellers and buyers. A quality certification was not essential. However, the market has expanded. In order to assure customers, gemstone trading needs a quality certification.
"These days, a certification is very essential in gemstone trading. For example, China is a new market, customers are not confident so they want a quality certification. Every gemstone from our company from 2-carat size and larger is accompanied with a certification. If customers require certification for any stones which are less than 2 carat, we can provide them with ones and they are charged with actual certification fees. We, currently, obtain quality certificates from gemstone certifying institutes in foreign countries and Thailand such as GIT."
Mr. Veerasak said that GIT has played extremely important roles in forming standards in Thai gem and jewelry industry, providing quality certification and gemstone quality grading as well as raising consumer confidence.
From a Gemstone Source…to the Gemstone Trading Hub
Moreover, Mr. Veerasak supported the goal of pushing Thailand toward becoming the world’s gemstone manufacturing and trading center. In order to achieve the goal,
support and cooperation from governmental and private sectors is needed, especially more free-trade deals. If the suggestion is accomplished, our country will be able to reach the goal.
"Thailand has strong capacity in gemstones coupled with skillful craftsmen and gemstone heat treaters but Thailand has not really opened up for free trade. If Thailand wants to become the world’s hub, trading needs to be liberated like in Hong Kong in order to facilitate raw material importation so that Thailand can become a complete manufacturing and trading center."
He also expressed his confidence that gem and jewelry business has potential to immensely expand. Though, lifestyle of modern consumers has changed, if the business can promptly adjust to changes, new opportunities can be developed for itself.
"Younger generations may lean more toward fashion-oriented gem and jewelry products. Businesses have to adjust to respond to consumer demand. The second generation of Veerasak Gems has been learning more about the business and we have been trying to expand our customer base. We try to showcase our products in trade fairs which we had never participated to introduce the company to customers," Mr. Veerasak summed up the company’s future business course.
And this is the road “Veerasak Gems” took to successfully stand in the forefront of the gemstone industry.