THE GOLD AND JEWELLERY INDUSTRY IN PENANG / MALAYSIA


  

Penang's Heritage Skillful Goldsmiths

The gold & jewellery industry started in Penang more than 100 years ago. There are about 300 registered gold and jewellery companies operating in Penang.  Majority of them are Chinese who operate their business on small to medium sized scale as manufacturers, exporters, wholesale and retail of gold jewelleries and solid gold metal.

 
Penang gold and jewellery industry However, these early generation of pioneers in the gold and jewellery craftsmen lacked skills in designing jewelleries. Their handcrafted products cannot meet changes in today's marketing trend. The early craftsmen and stone setters started off as a apprentice and learned their skill through hands-on training from their masters who engage them with a monthly allowance. Upon completing the apprenticeship and being able to produce a complete masterpiece of their learnt skill, they become qualified goldsmith producing the same type of jewellery.

The areas of creative jewellery designing, goldsmith engineering and gemology were not challenged at that time, and so totally neglected in the industry. The emphasis was then on hand-on training skill instead of attending academic courses and theory for further advancement.


 

The gold jewellery industry need to be constantly updated with latest production techniques and designs in order to compete among top fabricators of gold and jewellery in the world. Traditional methods of piece by piece production is almost completely phased out and replaced by mass production output from advanced technology machineries.

Collaborative efforts between the 'Federation of Goldsmith and Jewellers Association of Malaysia' and 'Penang Skill Development Corporation initiated the 'Jewellery Design Programme' to look into and enhance local goldsmith's competency in order to keep up with new production and marketing trends. This will be Malaysia's hope for developing future talents in the gold and jewellery industry and help realise Penang's aspiration in becoming jewellery designing hub within the country.   

 

But it was also very sad to note that the older generation of goldsmiths who lacked design creativity and machining skills lost their jobs due to innovative mass production. They already reached the age when they were too old to be qualified for advanced training courses.  Innovation is required for survival in this competitive industry, but at the cost of losing traditional handcrafted jewelleries.

 

Innovative goldsmith skills will continue  to uphold  Penang's reputation as possessing one of the finest gold and jewellery craftsmanship in the world and ensure that the century old traditional trade in gold craftsmanship can continue to enjoy longevity and growth.

 

Join  ' Oeding-Erdel ( OE ) ' factory tour to get an insight into the fine art of jewellery creation.  OE is located in the industrial zone of Penang, in the south, about 20 minutes drive from Georgetown.

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