(PRESS RELEASE) Celebrating the success of its inaugural virtual AGM that took place on the 24 September, the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association (SLGJA) announced the election and appointment of its new Chairman Ajward Deen.
The new SLGJA committee has outlined an extensive plan that intends to uplift the industry post-pandemic. Like many other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the gem and jewelry trade significantly.
With approximately 800,000 to a million people dependent on the industry, the pandemic has easily affected 70-80% of people from all sectors. The retail sector of the industry has been greatly impacted due to the lack of tourism over the past year and a half, with exporters being equally affected by the limitation of foreign buyers entering the country.
The mining and lapidary production has decreased drastically due to the lockdowns, resulting in a low supply of gems available in the market. As a luxury business, gem and jewelry is the first to be affected and the last to recover, therefore, it is of utmost importance that the association focuses on taking the industry forward post-pandemic.
SLGJA Chairman Deen emphasised that his priority along with his team would be marketing and promoting the industry globally.
As the apex body recognised by the Sri Lankan Government for the gem and jewelry industry, SLGJA represents all sectors of the industry from miners, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, exporters, lapidarists, heat-treaters and more. SLGJA will be continuously lobbying for the rights and interests of the trade as a whole, commencing with the plan to secure relief measures to overcome the current crisis and the people who have been affected.
With the country gradually getting back to normal, the association plans to create an interesting calendar for 2022.
A variety of events are in the works, from the return of the Facets – Gem and Jewellery exhibition, jewelry shows and online promotions, to a unique charity-linked jewelry design event and a jewelry design competition that has been planned for once the ground situation improves. Additionally, SLGJA aims to encourage young people to learn the skill of the lapidary sector, inspiring youngsters to join the industry and providing them with the support and knowledge to build a career in lapidary. Sri Lanka is renowned for its skill of gem cutting and through a variety of educational training programs SLGJA aims to ensure this skill will not be lost.
Since the pandemic, the industry has seen a drastic reduction in exports. However, the silver lining of this all is with the entire world gradually opening up and returning to a new state of normal, Deen said: “There is now a demand for high-quality gems and jewelry from the leading brands around the world.”
Despite the gloom the Sri Lanka gem and jewelry industry has faced, there is now great potential to fulfil the demand expected globally, he added.
The SLGJA Executive Committee for 2021/22 comprises: Ajward Deen (Chairman), Ahsan Refai (Immediate Past Chairman), Firaz Hameed (Secretary), Shazeen Farook (Treasurer), Muslim Salahudeen (Vice Chairman – Gem), Akram Cassim (Vice Chairman – Jewellery), Pinsiri Wijepala (Vice Chairman – Lapidary), Altaf Iqbal (Vice Chairman – Foreign Promotions), Amanda Wijemanne (Asst. Secretary), Nawrooz Azmi (Asst. Treasurer). The Committee Members are Priyantha Silva, Punsiri Tennakoon, Faiq Rehan, Sellakumar Kandasamy, Shezard Careem, Rizvan Sahabdeen, Ahmad Shareek, Jagath Nilantha, Saman Amarasena, Umesh Wariyapperuma, Rizan Nazeer, Shezan Mansoor, Rizwan Nayeem, Armil Sammoon, Ziqufi Ismail, Shezmin Mansoor, Shiraz Usuf, Himas Isab, Liyakath Razvi, Razni Haniffa, Anil Dangedara, Vindya Perera, Ashfaq Deen, Dhivakar Balasubramainam, Zakir Wahab, Issam Sallih, Altaf Jabir and Rameez.