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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Colored Gems and Diamonds Sparkle at September Hong Kong Jewelry Fair


A rare 2.5-carat pink diamond from VMK Diamonds
Everything seems to be the largest in the world at the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair and this includes the colored gem and diamond pavilions. In addition to quantity there’s also quality on display among the hundreds of vendors. In fact, there are very few places on earth where you would see gems of that are as rare and beautiful. Handfuls of these stones may even end up on the auction block commanding millions of dollars. 

An 8.37-carat brilliant-cut emerald from Panjshir Valley, a company that specializes in emeralds from Afghanistan
But in the booths these items are sold with care and discretion. The Fine Gem Pavilion, in Hall 9 of the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE), alone has more than 70 of the world’s top suppliers of colored gemstones. Several of these dealers will also be exhibiting in the Fine Design Pavilion at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, where finished jewels are being shown beginning Wednesday. These dealers will showcase their valuable gems and diamonds set in jewels and will be joined by dealers in vintage and antique jewels as well as contemporary high jewelry artists. 

A rare 20-carat natural Burmese sapphire from Caram

Meanwhile, in the Gemstone Pavilion, where colored gemstones in virtually every hue of the rainbow are showcased, occupies five Halls in AWE as well as the Hall 1 Concourse. The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) has 40 exhibitors. All totaled, there are approximately 800 gemstone companies exhibiting and approximately 560 diamond suppliers. 
 
A layout of well-matched colored gemstones from Paul Wild
“The September Fair has always been known for its rich and diverse selection of colored gemstones from top dealers, cutters and mine-to-market suppliers,” Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at Informa Markets, said in a statement. “This is the sourcing event for classic stones; exotic and hard-to-find gem material; and commercial-grade to mid-range quality gemstones. This fair offers a world-class experience to buyers.”

Monday, September 16, 2019

Pearls Once Again A Major Draw at the September Hong Kong Jewelry Fair


Pearls of virtually every type, quality and price point imaginable is once again an important part of the the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. The world’s largest jewelry trade show includes a dedicated area filled with loose pearl suppliers who are presenting pearl parcels, pairs, strands and layouts at the AsiaWorld-Expo.

In addition, a number of design houses will be showcasing high and fine jewels using pearls at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, when this portion of fair opens Wednesday (but that’s another story).


The pearl pavilion at AWE is one of the largest spaces dedicated to a single product category at the fair. Loose pearl dealers from all over the world are exhibiting including suppliers and from Australia, China, France, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Singapore, the UK and the US.

“Pearls are universally loved for their classic simplicity and timeless beauty,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at Informa Markets. “They personify refined elegance and are impressively versatile at the same time.”


According to the Tahitian Pearl Association Hong Kong (TPAHK) round 8mm to 10mm pearls are the hottest items under the Tahitian pearl category in the first half of the year.

“However, with the continued efforts of the association and by joining hands with leading jewelry design competition organizers in the promotion of asymmetrical shapes – drop, oval, circle and baroque pearls among others – we anticipate pearls in fancy shapes to further grow in popularity,” the association said in a statement.

Despite global economic uncertainties, the Tahitian pearl auction held in July netted encouraging results, according to TPAHK. “Top-quality pearls were in great demand but supply was inadequate. There were fewer commercial-grade pearls displayed at the auction. Thus, the average price increased by almost 48 percent when compared with the auction results in March of this year,” according to the association. “Total sales were approximately 35 percent higher than anticipated. Hong Kong and Japan continued to be the top buyers, accounting for 75 percent of sales.”

TPAHK members are presenting commercial- and high-quality pearls sourced from the recent auction at the September Fair. “The timing is ideal for the coming peak selling season,” the association noted.

The portion of the fair that includes loose pearls and other jewelry making materials at the AWE will run till September 20; while the finished portion of the jewelry fair opens at the HKCEC Wednesday and runs till September 22.

It was Business As Usual At The September Hong Kong Jewelry Fair


The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair began as it has done for 36 previous years. There was the traditional lion dances for good luck, buyers were queuing to enter and overall there was nervousness and anticipation among exhibitors and the organizers of the trade fair. In fact there was more nervousness as usual due to the highly publicized violent clashes between protesters and police (including the night before). However, the political crisis in Hong Kong had little relevance during the opening day of the fair. 

The number of buyers will no doubt be down from previous years as David Bondi, senior VP of Informa Markets, which organizes the fair, already said publicly. But overall the aisles were bustling with buyers doing business with vendors. 
Buyers in queue waiting for the fair to open

Canceling and postponing the show was never an option, according to Bondi. For Informa Markets, the world’s largest jewelry fair was too big and too important to the worldwide jewelry industry to postpone. It’s so big it’s held at the two largest convention venues in Hong Kong with staggered dates: The AsiaWorld-Expo, September 16 - 20 for raw materials and machinery; and the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre for finished jewelry, September 18 - 22. Rescheduling such a large fair for two venues would have been a logistical nightmare.
In 2018, the fair attracted more than 54,000 buyers and 3,700 exhibitors. Few vendors have opted out. One of the reasons was that under the contract signed with vendors Informa Markets was under no obligation to provide refunds and they were sticking to this policy. Instead, the organizers invested in a number of incentives for both exhibitors and buyers. To bring more buyers to the fair, the organizers developed aggressive initiatives to make the fair more attractive. 

The crowded pearl pavilion

The first was a telemarketing campaign in which Informa Markets staff personally contacted 50,000 buyers throughout the world. 

The second initiative was providing 10,000 complimentary hotel room nights for buyers. Each exhibitor was asked to submit the names of three significant buyers who should be entitled to two free consecutive hotel room nights during the September Fair show dates. It proved highly popular, according to the organizers. 

There were a number of softer incentives as well. For example, there was a mid-afternoon tea break and happy hour drinks as the fair ended the first day. In addition, show organizers delivered champagne and chocolate to every booth inside the fair.

Azzurra Cesari, holds up a collection of colored gems from her company, Futurgem

Perhaps even more of a factor in lower traffic among buyers is the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, which now includes jewelry industry products. Several exhibitors anticipate that buyers from Mainland China will be down because of this.

Vendors interviewed ranged from expressing hesitation in exhibiting to never considering canceling. 

“My only thought was how to cut my costs,” said Mishael Vardi of VMK, which deals in rare fancy colored diamonds. This is primarily due to a range of issues within the diamond industry and not so much the protests in Hong Kong, noting that outside the rarest gems “It’s a buyers’ market.” Pink diamonds from the Argyle mine in Australia, which will close in 2020, and rare colored diamonds, such as blue and green remain popular. 

Happy hour drinks and snacks following the show

Olivier Duran, sales manager of Avlas Diamonds, which specializes in high-quality colorless diamonds in fancy shapes, said his company was undecided. “There was some hesitation,” he said. “Thirty to 40% of our clients told us they were not coming to the show. We waited until the last moment.”  

For some colored gem dealers they already do a great deal of their business in China and the rest of Asia and since they are already in the region, it made sense to exhibit as usual. 

“I’m already trading in Asia,” said Charles Abouchar of Abouchar SA, a high-precision cutter of gemstones, “As long as security is okay I don’t have a problem. The buyers from the bigger companies are here.

Alexander Stufflebeam, president of Panjshir Valley, a company that deals in emeralds from Afghanistan, said he had no hesitation in coming to the fair because he does business in China and because it attracts buyers from all parts of the world. 

The day ended as it has done in recent years with the annual reception of the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) as buyers and exhibitors crowded the ballroom at the SkyCity Marriott Hotel.

The big test will be Wednesday, when the show opens at the Hong Kong Convention Centre for finished jewels. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

JNA Awards Focuses On Women and Newcomers, Among Events At Hong Kong Jewelry Fair

From left: Cao Thi Ngoc Dung of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Co; Wang Chun Li of Beijing Caishikou Department Store; and Hung Ming Li of Chii Lih Coral

The JNA Awards, which has grown to become one of the top awards programs in the jewelry industry, is putting a special focus on women and young entrepreneurs this year. The three lifetime achievement award honorees are all women and the finalists for other awards is dominated for the first time by new applicants. 

“Of the 39 honoree companies that were shortlisted, almost half of them are first-time entrants, indicating a growing interest among quality companies who recognize the importance of this platform,” said Letitia Chow, chairperson of the JNA Awards, and director of Business Development -- Jewellery Group at Informa Markets. “We have also received a record number of entries from Thailand, second in ranking together with India and Hong Kong, reflecting the importance of this market which has been traditionally modest about its accomplishment.”

The JNA Lifetime Achievement Award is going to three women who “have each transformed the retail sector and influenced the industry in their own respective way,” according to JNA judging panel. They are: Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, founder and chairperson of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ); Hung Ming Li, founder and chairman of Taiwan-based Chii Lih Coral (Chii Lih); and Wang Chun Li, managing director and general manager of Beijing Caishikou Department Store.

In addition to the special tribute to the lifetime achievement award recipients, the winners will be announced at the JNA Awards gala on September 17 at the Intercontinental Hong Kong. It is the highlight event at the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the largest jewelry trade fair in the world. It will be held September 16 – 20 at the AsiaWorld-Expo for jewelry making materials and equipment and September 18 – 22 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for finished jewelry. 

2018 JNA Awards gala

The JNA Awards is one of a number of special events, seminars, auctions and exhibitions that will be held throughout the seven-day show. They include the following:

* Alrosa Diamond Preview organized by Alrosa, the Russian mining company, September 16 – 20;

* GIA 88th and GIA Hong Kong’s 25th Anniversary Reception organized by the Gemological Institute of America, September 16;

* GIA GemFest 2019 organized by GIA, September 17;

* September Hong Kong Jewllery & Gem Fair Opening Fair Reception organized by Informa Markets, September 18;

* The unveiling of two fine jewelry collections by British luxury carmaker Bentley, which is celebrating “100 extraordinary years” in 2019, through an exclusive partnership with Heinz Mayer, a family-owned manufacturer dating back to 1599, in the Grand Foyer of the HKCEC. The limited-edition collections – “Wings” and “Everlasting” – were inspired by the car’s logo, the “Bentley Wings.” The handcrafted pieces are made of gold and platinum with diamonds, September 18 – 22;

* Jewellery Design Competition for Hong Kong Secondary School Students Award –Winning Piece Exhibition organized by the Gem & Jewellery Alumni Association, September 18 – 22;

* JNA Conference, “From Inspiration to Innovation – the Designer’s Journey to Creativity organized by Informa Markets, September 19;

* Gubelin Gem Lab Seminar organized by Gubelin Gem Lab, September 20;

* Shanghai Kimberlite Diamond Jewellery Parade & Gala Dinner organized by Shanghai Kimberlite Diamond Jewellery Co.,  September 20;

* GAHK 40th Anniversary Seminar organized by The Gemmological Association of Hing Kong, Gem-A and Informa Markets, September 20;

* The 68th Paspaley Pearl Auction organized by the Australian Pearl Centre, September 21 – 23.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair Will Be Held As Usual

The registration area at the 2018 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. Will Hong Kong protests keep the crowds away this year

Despite the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, officials representing Informa Markets, the owner and organizer of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, say the show will be held during its usual dates and times, September 16 – 22. 

Considered one of the largest jewelry fair’s in the world, the event is held in two venues with staggered dates: September 16 - 20 at the AsiaWorld-Expo for jewelry making materials and machinery and September 18 - 22 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre for finished jewelry.

In a statement, David Bondi, Informa Markets senior VO – Asia, said the company is adopting a series of contingency measures that he says will “ensure a seamless flow of events throughout the show.”

“Our priority is to deliver the best September Fair ever, and the 2019 edition of the world’s best jewelry marketplace is shaping up to be a record-breaking one in terms of top-class exhibitors, collection launches and rich programming,” Bondi said.

Bondi claims that as of August 9, “99 percent of the September Fair’s more than 3,700 exhibitors from around the globe have confirmed their participation.” This includes the few exhibitors I spoke with. 

However, according to a recent report, three trade associations (The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Antwerp World Diamond Centre and Israel Diamond Institute) have asked Informa Markets to delay the show until the situation stabilizes.

Bondi also said that visitor pre-registration is “moving forward,” with visitor promotion campaigns in full swing. “We anticipate minimal impact on visitor turnout,” he said. “It remains to be seen how small that impact would be given today’s complex situation.” 

The protests began as peaceful demonstrations in March in opposition over plans that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. The protests escalated to the point where the bill was declared to be “suspended” but that didn’t stop the protesters, who said they want the proposal withdrawn. The demands of the protesters have also expanded. The response by the Hong Kong police force began turning violent in early June. Vigilante groups, seemingly loyal to the government, also attacked protesters. In response, the protesters turned to sporadic violence. Bondi noted that the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, a smaller version of the September fair, was held at the Hong Kong convention center June 20 - 23 and it “went off without a hitch.”

Despite the uncertainty, Bondi insists that the fair is too large and important not to be held.  

“The September Fair is the last international fair – and on a scale never seen before – on the jewelry trade show calendar,” he said. “We cannot allow recent incidents to cast a pall over the most eagerly awaited jewelry sourcing event of the year. Our task is to ensure that this show will be celebrated as it deserves to be celebrated, and that our exhibitors and buyers will get the most out of their September Fair experience.”

Friday, June 21, 2019

Finalists for the 2019 JNA Awards Unveiled

The press conference announcing the 2019 JNA Awards finalists

In just a few years the JNA Awards has grown to become one of the top awards programs in the jewelry industry. The shortlist of the 2019 finalists, known as honorees, across 11 categories for its eighth edition were unveiled during a press event Thursday during the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. This year the number of honorees has expanded to reflect the increased number of applicants and their diversity. 

Organised by Informa Markets, the JNA Awards recognizes and celebrates excellence and innovation in the industry. Since its inception in 2012, the awards has been dedicated to sharing its core values with the trade, inspiring the gemstone and jewelry industry to thrive and advance as a whole by sharing best business practices and encouraging high standards. This year, the JNA Awards received nearly 100 entries from more than 60 companies and individuals. 

(From left) Abhishek Parekh of KGK Group; Peter Suen of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group; Letitia Chow of Informa Markets; David Bondi of Informa Markets; Kenneth Scarratt of DANAT; Liu Zheng of Guangdong Land Holdings

“Of the 39 Honoree companies that were shortlisted, almost half of them are first-time entrants, indicating a growing interest among quality companies who recognize the importance of this platform,” said Letitia Chow, chairperson and founder of the JNA Awards, and director of Business Development -- Jewellery Group at Informa Markets. “We have also received a record number of entries from Thailand, second in ranking together with India and Hong Kong, reflecting the importance of this market which has been traditionally modest about its accomplishment."

The 2019 independent judging panel consists of industry experts: James Courage, former CEO of Platinum Guild International and former Chairman of the Responsible Jewellery Council; Albert Cheng, former managing director of World Gold Council, Far East; Lin Qiang, president and managing director of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange; Nirupa Bhatt, managing director of the Gemological Institute of America India and Middle East; Yasukazu Suwa, chairman of Suwa & Son, Inc.; and Mark Lee, research director of Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy.

The judges for the 2019 JNA Awards. (clockwise from top left): James Courage, Albert Cheng, Lin Qiang, Mark Lee, Yasukazu Suwa and Nirupa Bhatt

Several of the judges attended the announcement and noted that the two categories that saw the biggest growth were for young jewelry business owners and for technology achievements in the jewelry industry.

“The quality of this year's entries, along with its diversity in terms of size, type and geography, are worth noting. Despite facing challenges, the industry -- through these entries -- showed its focus and determination when it comes to investing in innovation, operating systems and consumer research," Courage said.


Cheng added, "Just like in the last seven years, Industry Innovation of the Year proved to be the most popular category. The Young Entrepreneur Honourees -- whose credentials, professionalism and innovativeness reflect on their outstanding businesses -- are equally impressive."

Qiang said, “It is surprising and inspiring to know that nearly 100 entries were received -- more than half of which are from first-time entrants. The influence and credibility of the JNA Awards is beyond question. It will be a rewarding journey for everyone involved.”

"Having worked with the JNA Awards since 2013, I noticed that the judging process grows more difficult as the entries reach new heights and push the boundaries of excellence year after year," Bhatt noted.”

Suwa noted, "Entrants to the JNA Awards vary from very big corporations to small ones. I kept in mind to judge them based on their mission and the long-term good they have been doing for people, regardless of the company's size."

Lee added, "The JNA Awards continues to strengthen its role as an excellent platform to showcase the industry's progress and success. The entries, particularly in the areas of innovation and marketing, are truly impressive."

The 2019 honorees are as follows:

Brand of the Year – Retail 
Mokingran Jewelry Group Co Ltd., China
Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ), Vietnam
Shenzhen Sunfeel Jewelry Co Ltd., China

eSupplier of the Year 
BOJEM Jewelry, China
De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds, United Kingdom
G├╝belin Gem LabSwitzerl, and
Kapu Gems, India
Shanghai Wisdom Jewelry Trading Co. Ltd., China

Industry Innovation of the Year 
Diamond Identification Diamond Services, Hong Kong

Jewellery Manufacturing Technology 
3D Kaiente Jewellery Co. Ltd., China
Christy Gem, Thailand
H.K. Designs, India
K.S. Jewelry International Co. Ltd., Thailand

Marketing and Marketing Services 
Picup Media, Hong Kong
Shenzhen MOVER Culture Co. Ltd., China  

Production Technology 
China Stone Ltd., Thailand
Pino Aliprandini (HK) Ltd., Hong Kong
Sahajanand Technologies Private Limited, India
Shenzhen Future Wisdom Jewelry Co. Ltd., China

Shared Services 
Kongfook Jewelry (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., China

Manufacturer of the Year – Cutting & Polishing 
China Stone Ltd., Thailand
KGK DV LLC, Russia
Vaibhav Global Limited, India

Manufacturer of the Year – Jewellery 
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., Hong Kong
Gold Star Jewellery Pvt. Ltd., India
MKS JEWELRY INTERNATIONAL CO. LTD., Thailand
ShangJinPin Jewellery (Shenzhen) Limited Corporation, China

Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – China 
Continental Jewellery (MFG) Limited, Hong Kong
DECENT Gold Group Co. Ltd., China
Shanghai Kimberlite Diamond Group Ltd. Co., China

Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – Countries/Regions outside of India and China 
Frank & co. Jewellery, Indonesia
YLG Bullion International Co. Ltd., Thailand

Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – India 
H.K. Designs, India
KASHI JEWELLERS, India
NAROLA GEMS, India

Retailer of the Year  
Luk Fook Holdings (International) Limited, Hong Kong
Motisons Jewellers Ltd., India
Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ), Vietnam
Poh Kong Jewellers Sdn Bhd, Malaysia

Sustainability Initiative of the Year 
Continental Jewellery (MFG) Limited, Hong Kong
Shenzhen Xingguangda Jewelry Industrial Co. Ltd., China

Young Entrepreneur of the Year (age 40 and below) 
Abhay Chordia, ASHOK JEWELS, India
Angelina Lau, SK Jewellery Group Ltd., Singapore
Nancy Wong, Luk Fook Holdings (International) Limited, Hong Kong
William Chu, Picup Media, Hong Kong
Raymond Chen, Shenzhen MOVER Culture Co.  Ltd., China

The JNA Award Winners will be announced at a gala dinner during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Winners Announced at Inaugural 'JNA Jewellery Design Competition'

Some of the finalists for the JNA Jewellery Design Competition

The winners of a new competition dedicated to design were announced Thursday during the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

The name of the awards program is the JNA Jewellery Design Competition for 2018/19.  The winners were named at a press event during the fair’s opening day attended by officials representing Informa Markets and JNA magazine, and corporate sponsors, Crossfor Co Ltd, Platinum Guild International (PGI) and the Tahitian Pearl Association Hong Kong (TPAHK).  The competition celebrates artistry, innovation and excellence in jewelry design and production.

Organizers and sponsors of the JNA Jewellery Design Competition during the announcement of the winners at the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

The winners of the JNA Jewellery Design Competition 2018/19 are as follows:

* Dancing Stone Category – New Fashion Tech - “Heptagram” by Mami Ochiai of Japan

* Platinum Category – Platinum Attitude - “Star Lingers” by Liang Fan of China

* Tahitian Pearl Category – Asymmetric Perfection - “The Leonidas Man” set by Alessio Boschi of Italy

The winners will be featured at an awards presentation during at the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. Each winner will also receive a cash prize of $2,000, and have their creations showcased at the June and September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fairs.

The Leonidas Man by Alessio Boschi, one of the winners of the JNA Jewellery Design Competition

The competition’s judging panel was led by jewelry designer Fei Liu, who served as chair. He was joined by jewelry designer Robert Tateossian, visual artist Bradley Theodore, and publisher and editor-in-chief of the JNA group, Christie Dang. The three category judges were Hidetaka Dobashi, founder and CEO of Crossfor, Suzanne Wong, senior product manager of PGI, and Ida Wong, general manager of TPAHK.

The winners were selected out of 15 finalists across three categories, and evaluated against the criteria set by the organizers as well as the entries’ adherence to the respective themes. Of the 15 finalists, five were from China; three were from Taiwan; with the rest from Bulgaria, Egypt, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and the U.S.

The competition drew 2,588 entries from jewelry designers and students from 39 countries and regions.