- Sri Lanka Design Festival and AOD partner with Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association, to project the country’s historic gem and jewellery industry and its design led pathway connecting to international consumer markets, via virtual event accessible worldwide
Sri Lanka Design Festival’s (SLDF) 2021 edition is highlighting the gem and jewellery industry as one of the island’s treasured sectors that has much more to offer with leveraging the potential of design and what makes its historic allure and reputation built on gemstones.
This special highlight on the gem and jewellery industry connects to SLDF’s 2021 theme ‘impACT’, which focuses on industries, SMEs, exports and home economies that carry the most significant potential at this moment to contribute at the next level to Sri Lanka’s economy during the current challenges.
As part of Sri Lanka Design Festival’s virtual showcase, the gem and jewellery industry’s history, roots, techniques, resources, and the emerging design and innovation led future will be presented to an international audience through a virtual talk session. The talks will capture how the industry sustained its international appeal for centuries through a foundation built on harnessing natural gem resources and the mastering of lapidary skills. The session will also delve into how the industry’s historic repute can be leveraged in the post-pandemic business climate with the right integration of design and strategic storytelling to consumers, extending an opportunity for gem and jewellery entrepreneurs, businesses, thought leaders, students and artisans alike to engage in a timely discussion on the future of the industry and to create some tangible outcomes in the likes of true value scaling and new commercial collaborations.
The talks are presented as a partnership between AOD, SLDF and the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Authority (SLGJA) — a private sector partnership acting as a facilitator and a promoter for the industry, and playing a leading role in directing the industry value system.
SLGJA Jewellery Segment Vice Chairman Akram Cassim said that Sri Lanka’s legacy as ‘Ratnadweepa’ – the island of gems, and the continuing reputation as one of the oldest sources of rare blue sapphires in the world is one that’s worth exploring when understanding the inner makings of the industry, and discussing its future success. “Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association is delighted to participate in the Sri Lanka Design Festival 2021 organised by the Academy Of Design. We will showcase the gem history, folklore, legends and all the crafts and skills that have had an impACT on the 2,500-year-old gem industry in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Being an export-driven business and one that is ranked among the world’s five most important gem exporters, along with Brazil, South Africa, Myanmar, and Thailand and even as the luxury markets around the world plummet post the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka’s Padparadscha Sapphire, with its intense colour reminiscent of a tropical sunset, continues to attract the attention of the world’s most prominent valuers like the Sotheby’s New York. This steady reputation, paired with the industry’s core competencies in resource management, mining, and grading, can be taken to new levels when its competitive capabilities of the human capital such as lapidary, and jewellery crafting are enhanced with design and innovation to achieve greater value. This is the thinking underlying reason to shed spotlight on this industry and to use strengths in design to develop exports, and connect high-value products designed and made in Sri Lanka to global audiences.
The talk series titled ‘Holding the World Enchanted’ is presented at SLDF as part of the Design Katha’s series curated by AOD. It presents an informative virtual journey into the heart of Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery legacy, through inspiring and educational video segments, and talks by a panel of international and local gem and jewellery experts. Here, topics such as the history of Sri Lanka’s gems with an interesting insight to the myths and legends surrounding them will be shared helping audiences understand how the legacy was built from the tales of Sinbad to the world famous sapphires at the Royal Ontario Museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.
This will tie into the need for effective and interesting storytelling to retain the Sri Lankan gem and jewellery industry’s mystique in the digital age, through a talk by Richa Goyal–a true connoisseur of gems and jewellery with strong links to tourism, and a massive social following of gem and jewellery enthusiasts from around the world who gravitated towards Goyal’s strategic and engaging stories on digital media. Goyal’s session will allow virtual participants to learn from her background in working with major companies in the luxury travel sector in Asia, as well as major publications like ELLE, Gemfields, and Harper’s Bazaar to understand the thinking and the work that goes into creating stories that make impact in the gem and jewellery consumer mindset.
Given SLDF’s focus on driving exports and integrating design to industry processes, these talks will also include topics like mining, manufacturing and craftsmanship in relation to changing markets, and the evolution of Sri Lanka’s gem offering over time. Other speakers include Rui Galopim de Carvalho FGA DGA–Portugal based author and gem education consultant currently serving as consultant for the future Portuguese Royal Treasury Museum; Andrew Lucas– Senior Vice President to the Guild Institute of Gemology Shenzhen China, and the Guild Gem Laboratory Bangkok in Thailand; Helen Molesworth whose ten years as a jewellery specialist for Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London and Geneva, had her work established with HRH Princess Margaret, as a Professeur D’Histoire du Bijoux in Geneva, Managing Director of Gübelin, a Fellow of the Gemmological Associations of Great Britain and Hong Kong, and as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London. The talks will be moderated by industry expert Armil Sammoon— a fifth generation gem merchant who is also a board member of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and FACETS Sri Lanka.
This virtual talk session will be held on 16 January, 5 p.m. (IST) and is freely accessible via the following link; https://www.srilankadesignfestival.lk/events/design-katha-sri-lankas-gem-jewellery-legacy/form.