By Altaf Iqbal, ICA Ambassador, Sri Lanka

The Silver Jubilee edition of FACETS, Sri Lanka's International Gem and Jewellery show in Colombo, ended on a positive note recently.

The 25th edition of the four-day event saw an unprecedented number of visitors, foreign delegations and international buyers attending. The show was also visited by several ministers and members of parliament, which was an optimistic harbinger of the constructive work ahead for this sector.

The President, H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, also visited the show and spoke to many of the exhibitors, spending almost two hours at the show and thereby boosting the confidence of all stakeholders.

"We are repositioning the Sri Lankan gem and jewelry industry to make it a $1 Billon business," said Bandula Egodage, Chairman of the Export Development Board, which has supported the show for over a decade.

"We will provide the industry with modern technology, deep knowledge and experience for trained craftspeople to add value to our gemstones, and rival the competition at a global level."

The show, which was held at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre, also saw the launch of four unique stamps by the country's Postal Department to commemorate the FACETS show's Silver Jubilee.

The stamps depict a star sapphire, blue sapphire, cat's eye chrysoberyl, and a padparadscha sapphire. The stamps were issued by the Sri Lanka Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts from September 3.

"We are awed by the response that we received during the four-day event," said Juzar Adamaly, Chairman of the FACETS show. "The encouraging feedback has given us an impetus to host a larger show next year, in keeping with international standards and with state-of-the-art facilities."

He added that the FACETS show has become a unique business marketplace. "It is compact enough to fully explore sourcing opportunities and with a large number of new participants attending every year, it makes an ideal platform for networking."

The industry in Sri Lanka currently employs over 500,000 people, including miners, dealers, gem cutters, designers, craftsmen and salespeople. Gems and jewelry are the fourth-largest export earner for Sri Lanka, accounting for about $384 million, or 4%, of exports last year.

The FACETS show is the most important event on the country's calendar for the gems and jewelry sector, and is organized by the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association. It is supported by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority as well as the Export Development Board.