Asteria Colored Diamonds

Asteria Colored Diamonds


TechForm Platinum Jewelry Casting

Leibish & Co

Monday, September 16, 2019

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.