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Opening Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and National Development, at Singapore International Jewelry Expo (SIJE) 2023, on 13 July 2023

13 Jul 2023
His Excellency Suryo Pratomo, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore

Mr Edward Liu, Managing Director of Conference & Exhibition Management Services (CEMS)

Mr Ho Nai Chuen, President, Singapore Jewellers Association (SJA)

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


1.    It is a great pleasure to be with you here today and in circumstances very different from the last time when I first came. At that occasion, I think we still had to be masked, with social distancing and some restrictions in place. But now, a year on, things are very different, things are looking up for the exhibition, which I understand is the largest so far, and I am very happy to be here to join you. I also want to extend a warm welcome to all local and international jewellers, manufacturers, and designers, who have travelled to Singapore from over 28 different countries. 

2.    This is a record year for SIJE as it is celebrating its 18th edition with a showcase that is worth more than SGD260 million, surpassing its past editions. 

3.    SIJE is the largest jewellery event in Singapore for the ASEAN market and beyond. It offers a platform for industry players to share ideas and insights, establish networks, and showcase a diverse range of collections ranging from iconic jewellery designs and pieces to precious gemstones. 

About the Exhibitors

4.    I am pleased to see that this year’s Expo has brought together more than 280 global and Singapore exhibitors to showcase their products and learn from one another. They include:

a. home-grown brand Foundation Jewels - they modernised Peranakan jewellery in Singapore for a younger clientele; and
b. international brands like ZYDO of Italy, Bhima Jewellers of India and Mor Brothers of Israel. 

Resilience of Jewellery Industry in Challenging Post-Pandemic Era

5.    I am glad the jewellery industry has not just stayed resilient but found ways to recover and thrive post-pandemic. 

6.    As we move past the pandemic, we have observed growth for the retail and tourism sectors, thanks to revenge travel and the resurgence of consumer demand.

a. Between January and June this year, more than 6 million international visitors have arrived in Singapore.
b. Visitor arrivals are projected to continue to grow in the second half of the year, especially during year-end festive periods.
c. This has given a huge boost to the retail sector, driving a growth of 1.8 percent year-on-year in May 2023. 
d. The watches and jewellery industry has also benefited from this momentum, with a 3.5 percent year-on-year growth in retail sales in May. 

7.    To sustain this growth, the industry must embrace new challenges and opportunities. This means innovating to gain a competitive edge, equipping and empowering our workers, and strengthening our commitment to a sustainable future.

Staying Ahead of Change through Innovation
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

8.    With evolving trends like technological advances that are altering the operating landscape, individuals and businesses need to be forward-thinking and innovative to remain relevant.

9.    Innovation can be applied to the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for jewellery making. AI art generative tools can create images from texts and reduce time required to generate fresh ideas. This allows designers to have more room for exploration and creativity, expanding their design capabilities.

a. The designers at On Cheong Jewellery currently use such AI tools during the development phase of their jewellery pieces. 

Role of industry 

10.    The industry must also do its part and I am heartened to know that the Singapore Jewellers Association (SJA) is doing so.

a. SJA has around 190 members across Singapore’s jewellery industry, representing industry players from long-standing jewellery retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, education providers to laboratories.
b. On the innovation front – the Singapore Jewellery Design Award  (SJDA) is a recognition of jewellery innovation across global markets and cultures. This year’s competition centres around the theme of "Sustainable Luxury". The competition will also see a fresh category, “Artificially Exquisite”, that is dedicated to submissions incorporating the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In addition, new categories “Fresh Facets”, which is a category for students, and “Jewellery Without Limits”, an open category, will also be introduced. Submissions for the competition can commence in 4Q 2023.
c. SJA is also helping to raise industry standards through continuous learning, skills upgrading and reskilling, and has helped to initiate training programmes to enhance the capabilities of its members.
d. In line with digitalisation, SJA also partnered its member institutions - Far East Gemological Institute (FEGI), Jewellery Design and Management International School (JDMIS), Nan Yang Gemological Institute (NGI) – to provide training to the industry's workforce to uplift their digital capabilities. 

Changing Needs and Expectations of Customers

11.    In this digital age, customers are shifting towards a retail and customer experience that is digitally enabled. This calls for the collective adoption of novel business strategies and capacity building to be able to continue to deliver experiences that can resonate with the changing consumer demands.

a. The jewellery industry in Singapore has proven its ability to transform and embrace the challenges faced.
b. In 2021, SIJE conducted a hybrid show after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions and boasted a digital showcase of jewellery masterpieces from 480 participants from 22 countries, for the entire month of December 2021. 

12.    SJA will also work closely with the Small and Medium Enterprise Centre @ Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMEC@SCCCI) to advance the jewellery industry, through one-to-one business advisory, capability workshops and Group-Based Upgrading (GBU) projects.

Government Support for Industry’s Transformation Efforts 
Support for SMEs

13.    While businesses continue to innovate and transform, the government is committed to provide support for local businesses especially SMEs, on their transformation journey. 

a. Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) champions enterprise development and provides a range of assistance to help companies build capabilities, innovate and go global.
b. For example, SMEs can tap on the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) to improve core capabilities in areas such as strategic branding, omni-channel retailing and product innovation.
c. For SMEs seeking to expand their revenue streams and target more overseas customer segments, the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant provides support for SMEs towards overseas market promotion, business development and set up. 

Support for Workforce and Capabilities Uplift of Individuals

14.    The government is also committed to help strengthen workforce capabilities in the retail sector, including jewellery retailers.

a. For instance, the Jobs Transformation Map (JTM) for Retail developed by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) was launched in June 2023.
b. The JTM for Retail guides retailers in ensuring that their workforce is equipped with the necessary skillsets to meet evolving business needs. 
c. The Jobs-Skills Integrator for Retail (JSIT-R) initiative seeks to bring together industry, training, and job placement partners to improve training and employment opportunities. The initiative is driven by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and supported by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). But for the JSIT-R initiative to succeed, we need companies to help articulate skills needs and work with training providers to ensure that training is relevant. I encourage jewellery retailers to support this effort.  


15.    Many of you have displayed unwavering resilience and adaptability as you emerged from the pandemic. Despite the numerous challenges, you have remained forward-thinking, adopted new technologies and seized opportunities to transform your businesses. I hope your remarkable achievements will serve as an inspiration not just within, but also beyond the jewellery industry.

16.    Do exchange valuable learnings, engage in fruitful discussions, and derive inspiration from one another at this Expo. I look forward to meeting some of you during the tour later and I wish everyone a fruitful time. 
17.    Thank you all very much.