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TRADE NEWS


Milestone for Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

Milestone for Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

20 December 2012

By Cynthia Unninayar

The very large September edition of the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair continues to expand, attracting not only fine Asian exhibitors, but a roster of global brands as well. This year, it passed a milestone, its 30th anniversary, with two new initiatives.

Necklace designed by Pranda Jewelry for Swarovski Natural Reflection (Thailand).
Necklace designed by Pranda Jewelry for Swarovski Natural Reflection (Thailand).

Now in its 30th year, the September edition of the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair continues to be one of the world’s favoured destinations for brands and manufacturers around the world. Spread over two venues— the HK Convention Centre (HKCEC) in Wanchai for finished jewellery and the Asia World Expo (AWE) near the airport for loose stones, pearls, packaging, and equipment—this year’s edition attracted some 3,500 exhibitors from 46 countries and regions. Visitor attendance was up from last year with around 51,500 trade professionals coming from 155 countries and regions.

Ring by Forever Jewels (Singapore) & Ring by E&V Jewellery (Hong Kong)
Ring by Forever Jewels (Singapore) & Ring by E&V Jewellery (Hong Kong)

According to fair officials, the September fair had the largest exhibitor and visitor turnout in the event’s history. Also, more than 50 percent of buyers were from overseas, an indication of the fair’s global reach. Not surprising, the top five visiting countries, excluding Hong Kong, were China, India, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA.

Honourees at the inaugural JNA Awards ceremony, with Letitia Chow, sixth from left.
Honourees at the inaugural JNA Awards ceremony, with Letitia Chow, sixth from left.

New Initiatives

This year, the fair initiated two new events. “The jewellery exhibition industry is very competitive,” said Celine Lau, Director of Jewellery Fairs for UBM Asia. “To lead the industry, continual improvement and innovation are indispensable, which is why, for our 30th anniversary, we are celebrating our two new industry initiatives, the IU Awards that we piloted with ICA, and the JNA Awards.”

Jewelmer - winner of the JNA Awards in the category of “Sustainability Initiative of the Year” (Philippines)
Jewelmer - winner of the JNA Awards in the category of “Sustainability Initiative of the Year” (Philippines)

Organized by Jewellery News Asia, the first JNA Awards will be an industry-wide event that honours and recognizes excellence and achievement in the jewellery trade. Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and Director of Business Development, Jewellery Group, UBM Asia, chaired the JNA Awards judging panel and the gala awards ceremony. “The success of this first JNA Awards ceremony was tremendous. We have achieved our main goal to provide the industry with a benchmark for excellence and achievement and are looking forward to the same success at the JNA Awards 2013,” stated Chow.

Award-winning diamond and gold “Angel Gift” ring by Peter Lam (Hong Kong).
Award-winning diamond and gold “Angel Gift” ring by Peter Lam (Hong Kong).

Two other initiatives also marked the expansion ambitions of UBM Asia, which already organizes jewellery fairs in Hong Kong, China, India, and Japan. Riding the wave of steady growth in Asia’s economy, the event organizer will launch its first edition of the “Singapore Jewellery & Gem Fair” to be held October 12 to 15, 2013. “Asia is growing at an unprecedented pace and this brings about abundant opportunities for the jewellery trade,” explained Wolfram Diener, Senior Vice President, UBM Asia. “Nestled in the heart of Asia, Singapore presents tremendous business opportunities for jewellers to position their products to capture consumer demand in Southeast Asia.”

Earrings by Vida (Hong Kong) & Pendant by Aaron Shum (Hong Kong)
Earrings by Vida (Hong Kong) & Pendant by Aaron Shum (Hong Kong)

In a second initiative, UBM Asia is joining forces with UBM Live, its sister company in Europe, to expand into that region with the launch of its new “Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe,” or “JGF Europe,” in April 2014, held in Freiburg, Germany. Going nearly head to head with BaselWorld, this announcement raised more than a few eyebrows. Again, according to Diener, UBM Asia has carefully studied the location, date, and the opinions of potential exhibitors andbuyers, coming to the conclusion that JGF Europe can provide a viable venue for quality exhibitors showcasing a wide array of jewellery products, serving all of Europe. “Freiburg is conveniently accessible by car or by public transportation from major jewellery trading hubs such as Antwerp, Basel, Geneva, Paris, Pforzheim, and Vicenza. Only 30 minutes away from Basel, buyers can easily visit the two European fairs in one trip,” he explained.

While traffic was good at AWE, a number of diamond companies indicated that demand was not as strong as they had hoped, with price a dampening factor, despite the overall drop over the last few months. Generally, however, they indicated sales were moderate to good. The same overall opinion was found in the gems section. Some reported that most sales were to Chinese buyers, with favourite stones being red gems, mainly rubies and high-end rubellites, and medium-quality green tourmalines. Pearl dealers indicated that although demand from the USA and Europe was soft, it was firmer from Asian markets, with the bulk of sales coming from Chinese buyers, followed by those from Hong Kong. South Sea golden pearls were among the favoured purchases.

Necklace by Yang Lay (Singapore) & Ring by Jun-Ming Tseng (Taiwan).
Necklace by Yang Lay (Singapore) & Ring by Jun-Ming Tseng (Taiwan).

At the opening of the HKCEC venue, sentiments were similar, with sales ranging from slow to moderate to good. Traffic was high on the first two days, then calmer later on, although some booths continued to be busy, especially in Hall 1 and the Hong Kong Premier Pavilion. Many exhibitors were hoping Asian buyers would make up for the declining demand from Europe and the USA, but others were resigned to the fact that the precarious global economic scenario is also affecting the Asian demand for fine jewellery.

“The Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers and gemstone suppliers, as well as the industry as a whole, have been affected by the monetary and economic situation in the European Union and the United States, which has also impacted the markets in Asia and China,” said Kent Wong, Assistant Chairman of the Hong Kong Jewellers’ and Goldsmith Association. “Fine jewellery seems to be suffering from the slowing growth, but I stress that it is only the growth rate that has slowed. Our total growth rate was 60 percent last year, but at the first half of this year, we are only seeing about 10-plus percent growth.” He added that although sales of high-end products have been affected, the middle and lower-end goods are still being purchased.

Necklace by MVee (Hong Kong) & Brooch By Sabina Lee for Green G (Hong Kong)
Necklace by MVee (Hong Kong) & Brooch By Sabina Lee for Green G (Hong Kong)

This sentiment was echoed by Ricky Lam, Chairman of the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturers’ Association, who forecast that the lower-to-middle markets in Asia, especially China, will continue to make up for the slowdown in other areas. Lam added that many people consider jewellery to be an investment given the uncertainty in the overall economic environment. “Jewellery, diamonds, and gold are thought of as a way to preserve value, thus, ever since the financial crisis, Hong Kong’s export of jewellery items has been rising. Last year, exports increased 67 percent.”

Overall, exhibitors expressed satisfaction with the business and contacts they made over the five-day event. As for products, just about everything was available, and the photos on these pages offer a glimpse into the many beautiful designs from Asian companies present at the fair. The dates for the 2013 edition are early next year, from September 11 to 17.

www.ubmasia.com

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Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair - June 21-24 2012 - 4 June 2012
The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair smashes records - 20 October 2011
The September Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair - Preview - 16 September 2011
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