Hong Kong Homecoming: jewellery industry welcomes trade show return

After a four-year hiatus, the action and excitement of Jewellery and Gem Asia Hong Kong (JGA) has made a triumphant return.

The focus was firmly fixed on ‘rebounding and recovering’ amid a turbulent economy at the four-day affair, which was hosted at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and concluded on 25 June.

More than 1,680 exhibitors from 33 different countries took part, while the total number of visitors is still being determined.

It had been ‘a long time between drinks’ for event organisers Informa Markets, who last hosted the JGA show in 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic.

Senior vice president David Bondi said that after such a long wait, seeing the event successfully underway was an experience that stirred many emotions.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see so many people members of the industry back together in Hong Kong trading under the one roof,” he said.

“It feels like something of a rebirth for the industry, and perhaps the beginning of a promising new era.”

At an industry leaders meet-and-greet, Informa Markets’ director of jewellery fairs, Celine Lau, echoed this sentiment and said that she believes that for the jewellery industry, the best is yet to come.

“We are still feeling ‘fatigue’ from the pandemic; however, we should all be grateful to be gathered together as a single community once again,” she said.

“It’s important to take the time to reflect on the challenges of the past three years, and also to rejoice over the prospects of the promising future which lies ahead.”

With concern about the health of the global economy widespread, many exhibitors reported that buyers were consistently cautious when it came to finalising orders.

Discussions about the impact of cost-of-living pressures and exchange rates were also commonplace.

With that said, many exhibitors still proudly reported that their experience had been fruitful and chairman of Hong Kong’s Jewellery and Jade Manufacturers Association, Cheung King Yau, said that events such as JGA were vital for a rebounding industry.

“The focus for many indeed remains on recovery, as this is not an easy market to navigate for many industry figures. Globally, it’s a complex market and the jewellery industry is not the only sector facing challenges,” he said.

“This doesn’t mean we don’t have many opportunities for expansion, and events such as this wonderful fair are the ideal place to do just that.”


Dazzling diamonds

As is always the case, the diamond hall was dominated by impressive visual displays as stands strived to make their mark and leave an impression on a competitive fair floor.

The experiences reported by diamond exhibitors were somewhat uniform – cautious buyers eager for as much information as they could gather.

“People are certainly cautious, which given the talk about the economy at the moment, I think that’s something everyone was prepared for,” Divyang Kakadiya of SKSM Diamonds told Jeweller.

“We are getting a lot of interest in our diamonds from buyers which is good to see – most people are eager to take a look at what we’re offering and then to go away and consider it, which again, is exactly what we expected.”

One exhibitor which consistently captured the attention of attendees was Kunming Diamonds, with its radiant display of fancy colour diamonds a clear favourite.

Marketing director Shubham Maheshwari said that the market for fancy colour diamonds operates in a dramatically different fashion to that of white diamonds.

“This Fair has unfolded perfectly to our expectations. People are very curious and keen to learn and gather as much information at the moment, particularly when it comes to fancy colour diamonds,” he explained.

“In many ways, patience is vital for our customers as the market is so unique. Even factors such as currency rates are crucial. Timing can be everything.”

Maheshwari said that yellow fancy colour diamonds – the most common variety – had proven particularly popular in recent months, while pinkdiamonds are of course still number one.

“For us, events such as the Hong Kong fair are about establishing and maintaining the connections we have with customers and clients,” he said.

“There’s no alternative to the insight you gain from a face-to-face encounter, and these kinds of opportunities are invaluable.”

In a neighbouring stand, visitors discovered Saboo Fine Jewels – a business which traces its origins to India in the 1930s. The family behind the business credits its past successes to meticulous attention to detail and the desire to create ‘perfection’ in jewellery.

When it comes to trends, executive business manager Pranay Saboo said that colour seems to very much be in vogue.

“Our diamond jewellery in particular has recieved a lot of positive feedback from buyers, so that’s pleasing for us,” he said.

“But more than anything colour gemstones have been the big talking point. Our jewellery featuring emeralds and rubies, in particular, is very popular.

All the colours of the rainbow

Colour gemstone jewellery has been popular with consumers this year and in Hong Kong, buyers consistently voiced their approval for the wide variety on offer.

Jewellery featuring sapphires, emeralds, and rubies to name but a few made the colour gemstone section come to life, and among the floor were several Australian companies offering opal jewellery – an increasingly popular niche in Asian markets.

Based in Lightning Ridge (NSW), George Christianos is a third-generation opal jeweller and trader and he said the trip to Hong Kong was always worthwhile.

“This is traditionally the slowest fair out of the three major Hong Kong shows each year, but it’s always a valuable experience,” he said.

“We’ve found new customers, arranged future sales and cemented a few present partnerships, so it’s been well worth the journey.”

Christianos said the hunger for opal jewellery remains strong in China in particular, and that supply, rather than demand, continues to be the talking point.

“Everyone we are dealing with is experiencing a little bit of sticker shock, but we have no choice but to tell them that it’s about supply and not demand,” he said.

“The opal mining industry is undergoing a period of change, as older members of the workforce are retiring and aren’t being replaced at a great rate. We need to remind our buyers that next year, it’s only going to be higher again – so you might as well get in now!”


Precious pearls

On the fifth floor of the exhibition centre, the pearl section was a hive of activity as buyers scrambled to get the best deal possible on seemingly endless strands of aquatic treasures.

Sze Ho Yin, president of the Hong Kong Pearl Association, said that pearl jewellery continues to increase in popularity in the Chinese market, particularly with young consumers – both men and women.

Among the exhibitors was a familiar face – Pinella Autore, founder of Australia Pearls. She said that one particular variety of pearls was in high demand.

“It’s been a very productive fair from our perspective,” she said.

“The buyers are going crazy for Akoya pearls at the moment. There is a massive demand for Japanese pearls in Asia as there is a significant shortage of supply.”

The reasons for the shortage of Akoya pearls are varied. Similar to the opal industry, the Japanese pearl trade is undergoing a turnover in production and older farmers are not being replaced at the same rate as younger farmers are entering the workforce.

Others have suggested that a mysterious virus causing the death of oysters is hindering production, while the impact of climate change is also an important talking point.

Hong Kong Homecoming: jewellery industry welcomes trade show return - Artificial Jewellery
Hong Kong Homecoming: jewellery industry welcomes trade show return - Artificial Jewellery


Where to from here?

In what was surely a welcome relief to the organisers, the June show was in many ways a ‘typical’ fair – beginning with a frantic first half of the opening day, before traded slowed to a steadier rhythm.

While lulls later in the fair – particularly in the natural and lab-created diamond halls – raised some eyebrows, that concern was alleviated by the consistent excitement in the colour gemstone and pearls sections.

As Victor Yiu, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Diamond Federation said: “Rebounding from the pandemic remains the key focus for our industry.”

“In light of everything this industry has been through, it’s clear to me that Hong Kong is still the ideal place to do business for so many reasons.”

With the return of the June show complete, organisers at Informa Markets will now turn their attention to Jewellery and Gem World Hong Kong in September.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the show will open at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo from 18-22 September, while the trading will continue at HKCEC from 20-24 September.



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