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Monday, October 12, 2015

Value For Some, Luxury For Others At Hong Kong Jewelry Fair

Inside the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Photo credit: UBM Asia

With the slowdown in the Chinese jewelry market and other BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia and India), there was a focus on value among many of the fine jewelry vendors exhibiting at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. 

“Affordable luxury” and “fun” collections using gold and small diamonds starting at $200,” was one of the major selling points at this year’s fair, says Marie Feliciano, editor-in-chief of Jewelry News Asia. 

“Stackable rings, stack bracelets, ear climbers and multi-layered necklaces are trending,” she said. “I’ve seen some really attractive over-sized rings with colored gemstones. With regards to colored stones, tourmaline, tanzanite, topaz and fancy sapphires are quite popular. Some Hong Kong companies are using carved jade in their contemporary collections.”

It also helped to provide variety. 

Inspired Jewellery makes a statement about the financial people on Wall Street with this silver pendant necklace

Inspired Jewellery, a contemporary jewelry design firm, exhibited examples of its modern diamond-based jewelry, a line of delicate bridal rings for the Japanese market, and an affordable silver jewelry collection with satirical statements about the state of the world today. It’s called “Deception ... A Collection.”

“We’re really well-positioned with our product mix,” said Chris Benham, CEO of the New Zealand-based firm. 

The company was located in “Designer Avenue,” a new area on the fourth floor of the Hong Kong Convention & Exposition Centre dedicated to smaller design-focused firms. Benham said he was “really pleased with the crowds” from a variety of Asian countries and regions. This variety means the experiences of individual exhibitors and buyers differed.

The Inspired Jewellery booth in "Designer Avenue." Photo by Chris Benham

It’s not only the size of the show that makes it arguably the most important in the worldwide jewelry industry but its scope. The variety of jewelry available at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre includes low-end silver products, designer items, haute couture, and collectible jewelry and watches.

One of the more interesting exhibits each year is a group of jewelry designers in single booth, organized by Frank & Label, a company that represents jewelry designers in China. The number of exhibitors changes each year. This year there were about five from different countries and representing various jewelry markets. 

Evert DeGraeve, a New York-based jewelry designer who also serves as business development director for the company based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, says that business in China is still good despite the well-publicized difficulties, particularly at the luxury end. 

“There might be a slowdown but the markets in China are still open,” he said.

So while value was the focus for many exhibitors, those who deal in high-end jewelry still brought their best items and were ready to do business. 

So while value was the focus for many exhibitors, those who deal in high-end jewelry brought their best items with them, no matter the cost. 

A gem-encrusted lion by Atelier de Creation taken at the firm's booth. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

“It’s the hub of the jewelry industry all over the world,” said Henri Istanboulian of Zorab Atelier de Creation, which has been exhibiting at the fair for 20 years. The family owned firm specializes in unique and limited-edition high jewelry made with combinations of rare gems. “The Hong Kong show became more interesting and better than any other show.”

Sarah Ho Royal Plume Earrings in 18k white gold with pink and blue sapphires, aquamarine, diamonds and pearls; from her Couture collection

During opening day at the convention center (the third day of the fair), fine jewelry designer Sarah Ho said buyers haven’t yet made it to the back of the main hall where her booth is located. She was featuring a couture line of jewelry and the “Numerati Collection” of rings based on the numbers 1 through 9 made in 18k rose gold with diamonds.

“The numbers are visible when the ring is held but as soon as the ring is worn the number becomes a hidden secret, known on to the person wearing it,” she said.

It’s her second year at the show and she says a long-term goal is to move closer to the front of the hall. 

“Once you start a show you have to give it a few years.”

Sarah Ho Numerati Rings in 18k rose gold with diamonds

Etienne Perret, an independent jewelry designer based in Maine, was at the Asia World-Expo portion of the tradeshow where diamonds, gems, pearls and jewelry making equipment are housed. He was primarily looking for pearls to augment his ceramic jewelry creations. 

“I have been looking for 10 mm to 15 mm cultured pearls for some of my rings. To make the rings more affordable for my clients I decided to look at Chinese freshwater pearls,” he says. 

“The biggest challenge was to try to figure out which one of the hundreds of companies selling at the show to buy from. We spoke with a number of companies that were all very helpful. In the end we decided to go with a company out of Hong Kong that took credit cards and let us take the pearls with us. Being from Hong Kong it will be easy to email reorders to them.” 

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website

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