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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Macau To Enter Rough Trading Through New Diamond and Gem Exchange

Macau is setting up an international trading center for diamonds and rough gems to leverage its relations with Portuguese-speaking diamond producers and take advantage of the rapid development and vast potential of China’s jewelry market.

The Macau China Diamond & Gem Exchange announcement

To help meet this goal, the recently formed Macau China Diamond & Gem Exchange (MDGE) used the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair to announce that it signed an agreement with the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC Macau) to promote the city as a global diamond and gem trading center.

The September 13 announcement was held at the AsiaWorld-Expo convention facility near Hong Kong’s international airport. 

“The rapid development and vast potential of China’s jewelry market has coincided with the evolving plans of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area creating an opportunity for diamond and gem trading in Macau,” MDGE said in a statement. “With available financing, low and simple taxation as well as an attractive free trade policy, Macau also has its own commercial and financial advantages to enter the global diamond industry. Building upon China’s “One Country, Two Systems” policy, and the strong support of Macau’s political leaders and business community.”

The organization added, “Through the strategic partnership between MDGE and SDE, the integration of SDE’s policy and management expertise within MDGE will accelerate progress to build upon Macau’s position as an international free trade port and the preferential policies of the Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macau Great Bay Area. Further enhancing this arrangement, ICBC will provide unique financial services to MDGE members as strategic partner of MDGE.”

The agreement allows for the training of professionals in authentication, design and transformation of jewelry. It also makes use of Macau’s position as a world tourism and leisure center and a platform of services between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

In addition, the agreement will allow MDGE to actively develop concentrated rough-diamond trading, which will drive rough diamonds into the Shanghai Diamond Exchange and further promote the Chinese industry.

Founded in 2000, the Shanghai Diamond Exchange is the only diamond import and export market in the interior of China and the fifth largest diamond trading center in the world.

China imports precious and semi-precious stones from Angola, Brazil and Mozambique.

The demand for diamonds in the wedding market in Macau and in the interior of China has grown significantly as a result of the rapid growth of the Chinese economy.

Spirits Remained High At Hong Kong Jewelry Fair despite Destruction Caused By Super Typhoon Mangkhut

It’s impossible to discuss the 2018 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair without mentioning Super Typhoon Mangkhut. It landed in Hong Kong on September 16, as a Signal No. 10, the highest level of tropical cyclone warning signals in Hong Kong for 10 hours. It was one of the strongest storms in the city’s history and the strongest storm in the world this year. 

Storm damage just outside the Hong Kong convention

It tore through high rises, toppled construction equipment and destroyed some less fortified buildings. It toppled trees, stopped all public transportation and caused severe flooding along coastal areas. Some of the photos and videos being distributed among those of us stranded in hotels or at home were quite shocking. 

The storm understandably caused the full-day closure of the Hong Kong fair at both the AsiaWorld-Expo by the airport, for the last day of the materials portion of the fair, and at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in the center of the city, during the third day of the finished jewelry portion of the show. If that’s not enough the storm forced the rescheduling of the 2018 JNA Awards gala dinner, which was held the following night. 

     One of the walkways to the convention center

Miraculously the convention center showed no sign of damage, despite being on the water’s edge. Despite the fewer people, everything appeared normal at the show, which is testament to the focus and resiliency and focus of the staff at UBM Asia, which owns and operates the fair, the convention center staff and the residents of Hong Kong. 

Between the one day closure and buyers leaving before the storm arrived, there was definitely a loss of business but for the most part everyone was happy. I spoke with several gem dealers at the JNA Awards gala dinner and all were satisfied with the business they did during the days the show was open. 

     One of many damaged buildings in the city

Earlier in the day, there were still a good number of buyers walking the halls of the Hong Kong convention center. I spoke with several exhibitors in the Fine Designer Pavilion and they were in good spirits sharing typhoon stories while showing their jewels to whatever buyers remained. Like the gem dealers, they said business was disrupted for the remainder of the fair but prior to the storm, sales were strong. 

Many of the dealers in this area, which specializes in new and second-market high jewelry, have been exhibiting at the September Hong Kong fair for years. I asked one of the veteran dealers why he continues to attend. He simply replied: “I make money.” 

2018 JNA Awards Recognizes Jewelry Industry Leaders

The seventh annual JNA Awards, one of the most prestigious award programs in the international jewelry and gemstone industry, was a success under extremely stressful circumstances. The glittering gala event, which honored industry forerunners and groundbreakers, was held during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair Hong Kong on September 17.

The winners, judges, organizers and sponsors of the 2018 JNA Awards

Super Typhoon Mangkhut came crashing into Hong Kong September 16 causing the event to be held the following day. You can read more about the herculean effort it took to stage the event by following this link. However, this story is about the winners and awards ceremony.

A total of 44 honorees or finalists across 12 award categories that made exceptional contributions to the industry were acknowledged at the awards ceremony. Out of the 44 finalists, 15 recipients were announced in a ceremony witnessed by prominent industry leaders and influencers.

Organized by UBM Asia, the JNA Awards is dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of excellence, leadership, innovation and best business practices in the jewelry and gemstone community.

Prida Tiasuwan, Chairman of Pranda Jewelry Public Co Ltd – PRANDA Group, received the Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest accolade conferred by the JNA Awards. Prida is well-known for his tireless effort in bringing Thailand-made jewelry to the forefront of the global market. His bold vision and revolutionary ideas not only contributed to the success of PRANDA Group, but also benefited the jewelry industry as a whole.

The 15 Award Recipients across 12 categories are as follows:

1. Brand of the Year – Retail
Luk Fook Holdings (International) Limited – Hong Kong

2. eSupplier of the Year
Kiran Gems Private Limited – India

3. Industry Innovation of the Year

3a. Industry Innovation of the Year – Business Model
Shenzhen MOVER Jewellery Co Ltd – China

3b. Industry Innovation of the Year – Diamond Testing Technology
IIDGR (UK) Ltd – United Kingdom

3c. Industry Innovation of the Year – Manufacturing Process
PANDORA Production Co Ltd - Thailand

4. Manufacturer of the Year – Cutting & Polishing
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd – Hong Kong

5. Manufacturer of the Year – Jewellery
Kuwayama Corporation – Japan

6. Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – ASEAN, Japan & Korea
Poh Kong Jewellers – Malaysia

7. Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – Greater China
Shenzhen Sunfeel Jewelry Co Ltd – China

8. Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – India
KGK Diajewels Private Limited – India

9. Retailer of the Year (500 outlets and below)
PT Central Mega Kencana – Indonesia

10.  Retailer of the Year (501 outlets and above)

11.  Sustainability Initiative of the Year
Jewelmer (KARAMAR CORPORATION) – Philippines

12.  Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Age 40 and below)
XU Xiao, Zbird / Shanghai Wisdom Jewelry Trading Co Ltd – China
Zulu GHEVRIYA, Prism Group – Hong Kong

“Our industry is facing some challenging times, but we should not be discouraged. Instead, this is the time to be innovative. This is the time to seek business opportunities with a different light and angle, and form alliances and collaborations to create win-win situations,” said Letitia Chow, Chairperson of the JNA Awards, Founder of JNA, and Director of Business Development – Jewellery Group at UBM Asia. “Our Honoree companies and individuals embrace this mindset to drive their businesses forward.”

Headline Partners for the JNA Awards were Chow Tai Fook, Shanghai Diamond Exchange and Bahrain Institute for Pearls and Gemstones.

Honored Partners were KGK Group, Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange and Guangdong Land Holdings Limited.

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair Excelled

With all the talk of the September Hong Kong Jewelry & Gem Fair, there was another show quietly being held at the AsiaWorld-Expo, sharing space with the materials portion of the better known September Hong Kong fair. 

Buyers entering Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair – September

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair – September (9FJ), one of the industry’s most inspiring and exciting events, was held September 12 – 15, which means the fair ended one day before Super Typhoon Mangkhut touched down on Hong Kong. 

The four-day fair hosted about 350 exhibitors and drew more than 9,000 local and overseas buyers. It occupied Hall 2 and the Concourse of AWE, and as an annual show, it has gained traction as a hub of opportunity for fashion jewelry and accessories manufacturers, wholesalers, importers, retailers, designers and buyers.

The fair specializes in low-cost design-oriented jewelry made with non-precious materials. Many of the larger pieces would be called costume jewelry in the U.S., but there were also more petite designs. Since design is such a focus of the show, no exhibitors would allow me to take photographs of their pieces since stealing designs is a concern. The fair also materials used to make fashion-oriented jewelry.

The Designer Atelier, a special zone featured a select group of independent designers from Hong Kong, debuted at this year’s fair. Another new attraction was the Fashion Accessories zone, which provided the latest creations of manufacturers and designers who are bringing their distinctive elements to the show, from beaded clutches and purses to colorful shawls and stoles.

A highlight of the show was the Stainless Steel Jewellery Pavilion, where exhibitors presented an array of stainless steel jewelry designed to complete a fashion-forward, urban-themed look. Versatile and affordable, stainless steel jewelry remains one of the most popular goods at this fair. 

Five group pavilions represented mainland China, India, Korea, the Philippines and the Taiwan region were also among the show’s top draws.

A tradition of the annual fair was the Editor’s Choice section, which provided a peak at the design trends for Spring/Summer. This year, the show turned the spotlight on three of the hottest materials that will be prevalent in the upcoming seasons: Beads, metals and semi-precious stones.

2018 JNA Awards: Letitia Chow’s Influence And Leadership Saves the Day

Over the years whenever I tell people I was attending the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the response was almost always the same. “Say hello to Letitia for me.”

2018 JNA Awards ceremony. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

The Letitia in question is Letitia Chow, director of Business Development, Jewellery Group of UBM Asia. She also holds the title of Jewellery Group director, Publishing Group at UBM Asia. 

A brief overview of her career goes like this: In 1983 Chow founded Jewellery News Asia magazine in partnership with veteran journalist, publisher and public relations consultant, Peter Brindisi. It grew to become the largest and most influential jewelry industry magazine in Asia. The magazine was purchased by UBM Asia and thus started her rise in the corporate structure of the trade fair company. 

Letitia Chow

In the jewelry industry, particularly in Asia, the large jewelry, diamond and colored gem manufacturers, the largest mining companies and the largest jewelry retailers share much of the power. While Chow isn’t the most powerful presence, her influence ranges from the largest companies to those who work on the front lines. All of this influence was needed at this year’s JNA Awards ceremony, another jewelry industry endeavor founded by Chow. 

On September 16, Super Typhoon Mangkhut barreled through Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Observatory issued the Hurricane Signal No. 10, which is the highest level of tropical cyclone warning signals in Hong Kong, for 10 hours, making it a storm of historic proportions. It caused the postponement of the JNA Awards to the following day. When I saw pictures and video of the damage to the Intercontinental Hong Kong hotel, where the event is held, I thought the awards show would surely be cancelled. 

The Intercontinental Hong Kong hotel during Super Typhoon Mangkhut in a photo passed around social media.

The lobby of the Intercontinental Hong Kong the following night for the JNA Awards.

I was wrong and it was all because of Chow, her dedicated staff and the staff at the Intercontinental Hong Kong. 

Not only were they battling a super typhoon and the damage it did to the hotel, but more than half of the invited guests had left prior to the storm, leaving the possibility of a half-filled venue. First, the hotel lobby and the large meeting room where the gala dinner was held showed no signs of damage. Second, the call went out and the industry responded as people came streaming into the main hall moments before the program started. The program itself went off without a hitch. 

Over the years Chow always had a calm almost Zen-like demeanor despite the chaos that naturally ensues during a live trade fair and awards program. However, this year, during her opening remarks, her voice broke at least twice when she thanked her staff and those who came to the event in the last minute. 

The main reason the people came, the staff did the work and show went on is the result of the Chow’s leadership and the good will she accumulated over the years. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Luxury Jewels Were In Abundance at the September Hong Kong Fair

A buyer inspects a diamond paved necklace from Studio Reves. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Despite much of the focus being placed on large manufacturers and retailers, luxury jewels are a significant part of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. Most of the contemporary luxury jewelers and manufacturers (outside of Hong Kong and China manufacturers who have their own pavilions) are located next to each other in the Fine Design Pavilion and the International Premiere Pavilion.

Located at the Grand Hall of the Hong Kong Convention & Exposition Centre, the Fine Design Pavilion showcases high jewelry from more than 70 internationally known jewelers and dealers of estate jewels and watches. The high-ceiling and luxurious environment of the Grand Hall is an appropriate setting for these designers who feature rare diamonds, gemstones and pearls in their limited-edition creations. 

A conch pearl necklace by Saboo. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Jewelry brand, Saboo, is one of the regular exhibitors in this pavilion. Chand Bihari Saboo had some time to talk since several appointments were cancelled due to buyers trying to leave Hong Kong before Super Typhoon Mangkhut arrived. The Hong Kong-based company specializes in one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewels, made with exceptional diamond and colored gems. Many items are sold to Middle East royalty. The Hong Kong-based company started as a gem manufacturer so it is skilled at choosing stones. 

Saboo showed me a necklace and ring featuring conch pearls of different sizes and colors, and a flexible bracelet paved in rubies and diamonds. 

A ruby and diamond bracelet by Saboo. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Despite the impending doom that the typhoon was going to bring there were still eager buyers. In the International Premier Pavilion, which houses about 60 luxury jewelry manufacturing brands, a salesperson at Studio Reves, a Mumbai based diamond jewelry manufacturer and DTC sightholder, was showing a large, well-constructed, flexible necklace paved with rose-cut diamonds. 

As we were talking a woman walked up and asked its cost, felt it, tried it on and soon they began negotiating a sale. 

When Super Typhoon Mangkhut Became A Real Threat

Buyers in the jade pavilion the day before the typhoon. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

For the first three days at the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the Super Typhoon Mangkhut was an afterthought. However, on Saturday the storm became real. 

On the fourth day of the materials portion of the fair at the AsiaWorld-Expo and the second day of the finished jewelry portion of the fair at the Hong Kong Convention & Expo Centre, the hurricane and the impending disruption was the main topic of discussion. It is affecting business. Many exhibitors said that buyers canceled appointments Saturday so they can leave before the airport shut down Sunday. 

Exhibitors of luxury jewels most likely saw the largest number of cancellations but it wasn't a total loss, they said.

“People I expected did not show up but it’s okay,” said an exhibitor in the Fine Design Pavilion. A diamond jewelry exhibitor in the Premier Pavilion said business was good Saturday and the number of people around the booth proved his point. 

Certainly the Hong Kong and Chinese buyers were not overly influenced by the typhoon. These type of storms are a way of life for coastal residences in China and its autonomous regions, such as Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

The aisles were certainly not as busy as normal but there were still plenty of people milling through the various themed halls throughout the HKCEC and they were buying. I visited the entire show and while exhibitors were a bit gloomy, they understood the circumstances were unique. 

The busiest halls housed the Antique & Vintage jewels, jewelry from Hong Kong and China manufacturers, the CORE section and wedding jewelry section. Several of the designer areas and silver jewelry sections also attracted buyers. The Thailand and Japan pavilions were the largest exhibiting groups outside of those from Hong Kong and China and they remained busy.