The Philippines has a strong jewelry industry, and is among the leading producers of gold in Asia. Major gold deposits are mostly in Luzon and Mindanao regions. Much of the growth in the domestic jewelry sector is likewise attributed to the excellent craftsmanship of Filipinos in design and manufacturing.
Gemstones comprise a significant share of the Philippine jewelry market, which is on an uptrend globally. The worldwide jewelry sector is driven by growing applications in ceremonial rites, mostly in Asia Pacific. Additionally, social media further fueled the jewelry business boom in the last decade.
No wonder, the number of jewelry manufacturers and wholesalers in the Philippines have increased substantially in recent years. The bulk of today’s jewelry retailers and designers conduct sales and promotions via virtual platforms, if not over a combination of brick-and-mortar stores and online shops.
As a gemstone wholesaler or retailer, or a jewelry designer or connoisseur, you would want to know if and why the Philippines is a good place to source gemstones. If so then this blog is especially helpful for when you are comparing pricing considerations and sourcing regulations. More importantly, we will help you secure your investments by introducing state-of-the-art gemstone testers and cutting-edge gemological tools that can ensure the authenticity of the gemstones you will be purchasing and selling.
Jewelry Industry in the Philippines: An Overview
The Philippines has abundant reserves of gold, silver, pearls, precious metals, and gemstones in various parts of the archipelago. For the longest time, the domestic jewelry industry has been confined to local consumption, mostly to midrange markets, but exports have picked up significantly in recent years.
Exports of Philippine-made jewelry were virtually non-existent until the 1990s, with the upsurge in global demand for gold jewelry. It was only until the ratification of the Philippine Export Development Plan in 1994 that the industry started experiencing steady growth and gaining global competitiveness.
The Philippine fine jewelry manufacturing and export sector is composed of about 250 enterprises nationwide, with a workforce of around 100,000 that are mostly based in Metro Manila and the nearby province of Bulacan. The rest are situated across Baguio City and Camarines Norte in Luzon Region; Cebu in the Visayas; and Davao, Surigao and Zamboanga in Mindanao Region. Roughly half of the industry is made up of SMEs, with the 10 largest retail chains accounting for no more than 25% of the total, and the bulk of production driven by in-house workers.
Local jewelry retailing is mostly the purview of jewelry chain stores and independent jewelers. The former also carry fashion jewelry items and a wider range of non-jewelry gift products. The jewelry store chains focus on only a few product categories such as the diamond bridal market.
The gold content and type of gemstone largely determine the price of a piece of jewelry, which starts at US$200 for basic silver and gold necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, pendants, and brooches; and US$1,000 for pearl and gemstone jewelry. Diamond jewelry is typically priced upwards of US$2,000.
Gemstones Available in the Philippines
The Philippines’ primary metallic mineral deposits include gold, iron ore, lead, zinc, chromite, and copper. However, there are also minor reserves of silver, nickel, mercury, molybdenum, cadmium, and manganese across the archipelago. Garnet, opal, and jade or jadeite are the most precious gemstones that the country has to offer, although jasper, tektite, epidote, among others can also be sourced locally in Zambales, Mindoro, and other provinces.
Garnet comes in almost every hue, but red and orange are the most popular and green (grossular and andradite) is the rarest. Its color is a garnet’s most important quality, and the biggest determinant of its price. Other garnet variants include those that are purple, yellow, and colorless.
Opals are known for their dazzling play of colors wherein a single gemstone can display the entire spectrum of the rainbow. An opal’s primary color and play of color, as well as its transparency, determine its market value. Additionally, the gemstone comes in eight (8) general types and various patterns.
Jade is arguably the most popular gemstone, which comes in a rich green color. But this gemstone also comes in lavender, orange, blue, black, yellow, red, and white. While most people know about jade from China, the most expensive variant is an almost transparent variety from Myanmar.
Jasper comes in opaque, solid, or patterned varieties. The known colors of jasper are red (bloodstone jasper, mostly from India), green, and yellow (lemon jasper). The usual patterns are orbicular, poppy, leopard skin, landscape, or Picasso. Color saturation and pattern determine a jasper’s price.
Tektites are actually natural glass or raw stones with origins from meteorite debris. A tektite’s value depends on its size, transparency, color, and cut quality. Most tektites are opaque or dark-colored but there are also translucent and light-colored variants, which are priced higher.
Epidotes can be found in shades of green, yellow, gray, black, and nearly everything in between. Prized gemstones in this class are those that display the highest transparency, most uncommon color, and are generally bigger. A cut that sets off the gemstone’s facets remarkably well makes it more precious.
Industry-trusted Gemstone Testers
Industry pioneers would have the most experience and expertise in producing gemological instruments. And if you are a serious buyer or seller of gemstones, then you need these tools as an added layer of protection for your investment.
Established in 1979, Presidium Instruments Pte Ltd is the world’s first company to launch gemological instruments catering specially to the jewelry industry. Available in more than 40 countries, Presidium products include gemstone testers that determine refractive index, UV transmittance, thermal conductivity, and/or reflectivity. Presidium’s gemstone testers and complementary products are:
For colorless diamonds:
The ARI by Presidium is a PRESIDIUM DIAMOND VERIFICATION INSTRUMENT®, which is a registered trademark of Presidium Instruments Pte Ltd. It distinguishes colorless diamonds from CVD/HPHT lab-grown diamonds or moissanites from D to J color, for loose and mounted stones as small as 0.02ct. It works well with the Presidium Diamond Mate Tester (PDMT-A) to easily identify natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, and diamond simulants.
The Presidium Diamond Mate Tester (PDMT) boasts of the thinnest probe tip size, which is 0.6mm. It is the industry’s tiniest probe tip to date, which means the PDMT can be used on diamonds as small as 0.02ct. Test results are instantly indicated by an LED light and a continuous audible beep. The PDMT instantly verifies the authenticity of diamonds based on their thermal properties.
The PDMT-A is a complementary product to ARI, for further distinguishing diamond simulants such as colorless sapphire and cubic zirconia from unknown colorless stones. As a first step, users can test an unknown colorless stone using the PDMT-A. Upon a positive “Diamond” reading, users can then use ARI to test if the stone is a natural diamond, potential lab-grown CVD/HPHT diamond, or moissanite.
The Synthetic Diamond Screener II (SDS II) is an easy-to-use battery-operated desktop PRESIDIUM DIAMOND VERIFICATION INSTRUMENT®. The SDS II uses advanced technology to differentiate Type IIa colorless diamonds (likely laboratory-grown through CVD or HPHT processes) from natural Type Ia colorless diamonds. The SDS II has been ASSURE TESTED by an independent third party through ASSURE program and achieved 100% Laboratory-Grown Diamond Referral Rate.
For colored gemstones:
The Presidium Gem Tester II (PGT II) is the industry’s one and only handheld gem indicator and digital tester for application in 16 common colored gemstones. The probe consists of two linked thermometers: one which is heated electronically while the other is cooled by the gemstone being tested. The difference in temperature creates an electrical output, which is then amplified and displayed.
The Presidium Gem Indicator (PGI) is a pioneering handheld tester specifically for colored gemstones. It identifies up to 31 different types of colored gems based on their thermal conductivity and comes with the Presidium patented refined changeable probe tip, which ensures minimal equipment downtime. The PGI features a color input function that allows users to select from a range of 12 common colors.
The Presidium Duo Tester II (PDT II) is the only comprehensive tool on the market that combines two proven testing methods for gemstones, based on both thermal conductivity and reflective indexes. Coated gemstones can also be generally tested with the PDT II. With the industry’s thinnest probe tip size of 0.6mm, PDT II tests gemstones as small as 0.02ct.