By Brecken Branstrator
While Thailand is known by many in the trade to be a hub for large-scale manufacturing, it was very apparent when I was attending the recent Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair that the country’s Department of International Trade Promotion is putting more focus on emerging designers and their talent.

The show had new categories like “The New Faces,” a platform for small- and mid-sized manufacturers that haven’t exhibited at the show before; the “Innovation and Design Zone;” and “The Jewellers,” to help put Thai designers front and center.

While I was walking around perusing these areas, here are a few great brands I stumbled upon.

20180306 Sarran
The Bangkok fair always opens with a fashion show, and I love it. The clothing is, not surprisingly, rarely what I’m used to seeing here and when you’re in Thailand, you know the gems can’t be beat.

“The Siamese Ambassador” was the theme of this year’s show, pairing beautiful clothes with accessories from brands that also were exhibiting. While there were some exceptional colored gems, my favorite part was the headpieces the models donned from a brand called Sarran by Sarran Youkongdee, which was founded in 2008 and pairs Thai heritage with the surrounding Asian cultures in its designs.

The headpieces added such a great touch to the show, providing the perfect mix of tradition with a modern, updated look.

20180306 Tara
Tara Ebony Jewelry
This brand was exhibiting at the show for the first time, located in the “New Faces” section.

What stopped me while I was strolling was its sleek pieces that were both edgy and classic. The deep, rich carved wood combined with precious stones was such a perfect combination. It was definitely a brand that I could see exhibiting at any of the U.S. shows.

20180306 Porana
Here was a brand I also thought was totally saleable in the U.S. This fairly new brand—it’s only two years old—features pieces that were minimal but elegant and included dainty stacking rings in mixed metals.

One collection, “Joint,” featured rings meant for couples that interlocked. My favorite was “Weave,” pictured above, inspired by Thai woven basketry and featuring beautiful baguette and princess-cut diamonds set in 14-karat gold. The collection is amazingly priced at a sweet spot between $280 and $550. The brand is present in the U.S. through Etsy and its website.

20180306 Lanna
Lanna Silver
Silver is one of the biggest categories for Thailand, where designs using the metal are intricate, detailed and beautifully made. One of my favorite places to see that was at Lanna Silver, so named because it’s located up north in Chiang Mai and celebrates the Lanna heritage of silver-making.

The company just showed in Tucson, where it said many of its beads sold well, but it had a vast array of products on display in Bangkok, some of which you can see pictured in my wrap-up blog. But the top item I saw at Lanna wasn’t a piece of silver jewelry but the clutch/wallet pictured here, made of silver that was hammered out and woven by hand. Just stunning.

20180306 Goldlip apatite
Goldlip Jewelry
This Thailand-based brand hit the nail on the head with its organic, earthy designs. They were wearable, well-made and featured a variety of gemstones, from trendy like rough apatite, as seen above, to unique like a crescent-shaped abalone, to classic like amethyst and rose quartz. Since they are made in silver, the price points couldn’t be beat. Managing Director Tal Levran said they aren’t present in the U.S. yet but would be open to it.

20180306 Yolwaree
Haus of Jewelry
This brand isn’t fine, but I still loved its look. There are two lines under this company name—Haus of Jewelry, which features every day, wearable pieces, and Yolwaree, which featured more sophisticated design and a slightly higher price point, though both are silver plated.

There was one collection in particular from the Yolwaree line that I liked, “Arun,” which was inspired by Wat Arun, or The Temple of Dawn, in Bangkok. A choker from the collection, featuring rose gold-plated silver and CZ, is pictured here.

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