Keneddy Ho- Founder of Asian School Of Gemological Sciences(Bangkok)

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Mr. Keneddy Ho is a well-known figure in the field of gemology. He is the founder of Asian School of Gemological Sciences (AIGS), Bangkok. Established in 1978, AIGS was the first gemological school and lab to cater to the needs of students, traders and customers. More than 15000 students have graduated from AIGS.

Hello Mr. Keneddy. Welcome to the interview session of Little Gemologist.

1. We would like to know about your journey in the gem industry?

Ans. I have been in the gem trade since childhood. I was born in Burma, my father was into gem trade so that is how I automatically landed in the world of gemstones.

2. Was it voluntary or there was some family compulsion that you have to join the family business of gem trading?

Ans. We were required to help our father after school. After I finished university I joined full time. Its been around 50 years now since I’m working in this field.

3. What were the challenges you faced when you started your journey in the field of gemstones?

Ans. In the beginning, there were many government regulations for gem trade. In the 1980’s my father wrote a letter to the Thai govt. requesting them to lift some regulations so that the industry can grow. After some time govt. lifted the regulations and Thai gem industry took off. Before that Thai gem industry was not big.

4. How did you decide to open a gemological school?

Ans. The idea to open a school was simple. There was no school in Thailand teaching gemology, so we wanted to open both, school and the lab as that was the requirement and need of the hour. There were no labs to test gems in Thailand 40 years ago. All the trading used to take place without the presence of any labs. Traders were just using their experience. If someone wanted to get their stones checked, they would have to send it to Europe or the USA.

5. How important you think is the role of labs these days ?

Ans. Role of gemological labs is very important nowadays as the technology for synthetics has improved. In the old days just by using a microscope, you could tell a lot about gemstones but now it’s difficult.

Author with Mr. Keneddy Ho at his office.

6. There have been many labs which have come up in recent years. Many labs charge less fee and write whatever a customer wants them to mention in the report. Don’t you think there should be some standards to open a gemological lab?

Ans. You cannot stop someone from opening a lab. There is no existing law which mentions some criteria to open a gemological lab. So many gem labs writing anything on the piece of paper is dangerous for the gem trade.

7. What you think about colour grading? Labs they write very fancy names such as peacock blue,muzo green etc. Do you think it’s okay for labs to use such words?

Ans. I agree that there is nothing scientific in using words such as “cornflower”, “pigeon blood”, “muzo green”. Customer needs to be educated regarding the colour of the stone. He should not blindly trust the gem reports as far as colour is concerned.

8. What are the challenges faced by the gem industry?

Ans. Well, there is a lot of competition as nowadays we have different sources for gemstones. 50-60 years before there were 2-3 sources like Burma, Srilanka. Now we have sapphires from Australia, Montana(USA), Madagascar. In the past 20 years, the African continent has supplied a good variety of stones.

9. Do you think the demand for synthetic stones will go up in future?

Ans. The young generation does not seem too inclined to buy real stones and spend a large amount of money. They may prefer buying synthetics at fraction of a cost. But there will always be a demand for real stones. There will always be jewellery designers more willing to work with real stones than synthetics. Real stones have a charm of their own. Every piece is unique.

10. What do you think about the performance of AIGS as a gem school?

Ans. I come from a trading background so I knew what should be the motive of the school. Our sample collection is huge. Being from the trading background helped us to fetch stones from different areas with different inclusions and keeping them as a sample for our gem school. Remember gem school is not too profitable. Its lot of hard work. You need good teachers, stone samples, machines. I believe we have done quite well and are one of the best in gem education.

11. What you think about the concept of the blockchain that has been introduced in the gem world recently?

Ans. I’m not sure how much it can benefit gem trade as we have different supply sources. Mining of gemstones is done in a haphazard manner.

12. What makes AIGS special as a school, providing gemological education?

Ans. We started our school in 1978. Our strong point or usp has always been our focus colour stones. AIGS lab was one of the first one to detect glass filling in a ruby. Whatever research was or is done in the field of rubies and other gemstones our students benefit from them as well. Many experts from the gem industry have been associated with our school or our lab. More than books its the practical aspect which is important for gemology. We have been focussing on providing quality samples to our students and our teachers also have in-depth knowledge of the gem market as well as the theory part.

13. What are your future plans for AIGS school?

Ans. We are planning to expand our presence in other countries First would be China. In future, we may introduce some new courses like cutting as well.

14. Do you think 6 months are enough to start a gem trade?

Ans. In 6 months you get a fair amount of knowledge of the gem world. You come to know about the varieties of stones, their properties and which stones have more value. But being an expert trader will always take time.

15. What do you think of the supply of stones coming from Burma?

Ans. Stones from Burma will keep on coming for some more time. Stones are not fully mined. There are pockets which will keep on supplying stones.

16. What will be the impact on prices of colour stones in future? Will Covid-19 have an impact on it?

Ans. Yes, COVID -19 will have an impact on gem trade. Prices will also get affected. It will be difficult to survive for some people and for some time. We may see a dip in demand for jewellery and as a result, prices may dip for a while. But overall if you look at the prices from 10-15 years, prices have always gone up. For stones like Sapphires, Rubies, Emerald prices will always go up.

Thank you Mr. Kenddy for joining us on this interview.

Little Gemologist wishes you all the best for your future endeavours

I'm a gemologist by profession...who loves everything about gems, jewels, and history....!!!!

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