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A Record-Breaking GEM(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,2007)

Hong Kong International Jewellery Show

Eager participants are gearing up for the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, which has become a "must-attend" event for industry movers and shakers keen to spot new trends and suppliers.

So popular has the event become that the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2007 has been extended from four to five days, running from March 6-10 at the world-renowned Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"The fair is now ranked among the top three jewellery events in the world and is set to break even more records," notes Anne Chick, senior exhibitions manager of event organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC). "This year we expect more than 2,300 exhibitors from 42 countries and territories - up 11% from last year's previous high of 1,977 attendees from 41 countries."

The show will expand to encompass an additional exhibition hall in Expo Drive that will accommodate 300 exhibition booths housing two new product zones. "The TDC has added Antique Jewellery and Jade Jewellery to the new exhibit areas to reflect the growing interest in these sectors," Chick explains.

The number of exhibitors has been boosted by the TDC's concerted efforts to arrange a record number of 20 group pavilions. "We welcome new pavilions for Germany and Malaysia this year, emphasising the widening and truly international nature of the event," claims Chick. "We also anticipate a top number of 30,000 buyers to Asia's leading jewellery show."

Contributing significantly to this number, the TDC has arranged over 50 buying missions from more than 35 countries and regions. "This will maximise the size and range of international purchasers, many of whom are among the world's foremost jewellery and gemstone retailers and traders," Chick adds.

Last year's show attracted keen buyers from 125 countries and regions who extolled nothing but praise for the event. "I come to this fair regularly and I like it very much - I prefer it to other trade shows around the world," says Karim Mahallati, president of UAE wholesale diamond and gold business A.K. Mahallati Co Ltd, who came to order pearls and loose diamonds.

He says the organisation is fantastic - and the service starts from the TDC office in Dubai through to the event itself. "There is plenty to see here, with exhibitors from around the world, and I find the prices very reasonable."

This avid enthusiasm is shared by exhibitors such as Euro Pearls of the UK. "We have exhibited here for the last nine years," says chief executive Michael Hakimian, who liked the new concept of grouping similar companies together because buyers find the format comfortable.

"We've met a good mix of buyers, including Americans, Asians and lots of Europeans," he explains. "We've taken orders from new as well as existing customers." Chick insists this year's event will not disappoint, citing the return of highly popular regular features such as Le Salon Extraordinaire, a dedicated section for companies offering distinctive premium and luxurious jewellery, and the Designer Jewellery Galleria, which will proffer an elegant setting for branded jewellery and designer collections from premier jewellery houses.

"The Treasures of Nature makes a grand return after its highly successful debut last year, offering a unique premium section for the display of precious loose jewellery, including natural diamonds, precious stones and pearls of exceptional quality," explains Chick.

In addition, Les Salons Privms will provide privacy for buyers to source from a wide array of fine jewellery items, while remaining close to the centre of the action.

Buyers looking for a convenient one-stop-shop for jewellery and timepieces will not be disappointed as the Watch & Clock Pavilion takes a prime position at the fair for the fourth year.

"Exhibits have been conveniently positioned in two categories - one devoted to brand-name watches and clocks and the other to a comprehensive range of complete timepieces," notes Chick.

Considerable thought has gone into the design of this pavilion, with an exquisite setting providing just the right balance of elegance and discreet business, she adds. "Fashion models will move throughout the area to demonstrate selected items, adding a modern, chic tone to this popular feature."

Fair participants will also get the opportunity to see the winning creations of the 8th Hong Kong Jewellery Design Competition, which will be on display throughout the event.

"These highly creative pieces from promising designers bode well for Hong Kong's continuing position as the world's fourth-largest exporter of precious jewellery," notes Chick.

The show will also feature a series of fashion parades presenting some of the dazzling exhibits, and those interested in keeping abreast of the latest industry trends and issues will appreciate a series of informative seminars and workshops lead by industry experts.

"The Hong Kong International Jewellery Show has progressed enormously in its 21-year history," remarks Chick. "It has reached an undeniably grand scale and its tremendous popularity with exhibitors and buyers has earned it a well-deserved reputation as one of the world's leading jewellery events."

Super Sourcing Centres

Hong Kong's jewellery trade fairs are destined to become even more important as sourcing centres for international buyers, according to an independent research survey conducted at last year's Hong Kong International Jewellery Show.

The survey, which interviewed 731 buyers and 466 exhibitors at the show, found some 48% of buyers relied on Hong Kong trade fairs to source merchandise.

In addition, 71% of those interviewed anticipated Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland would be the most important sourcing places within the following 2-3 years. "On average, buyers expect these two areas to account for 51% of their total sourcing," TDC senior exhibitions manager Anne Chick adds.

This reflects Hong Kong's growing total exports of jewellery, which leapt 23% in 2005 and jumped 13% from January to November last year to reach HK$26,569m.

The report also found that some 90% of buyers and exhibitors expected sustained or improved growth for the jewellery industry in 2006, with the Chinese mainland the key market fuelling growth, followed by the US.

Exhibitors saw better potential in Western Europe, while buyers found growth in Hong Kong more optimistic. "Executive and professional females between 26-45 years of age were expected to provide the highest potential for sales, while interestingly, those with major markets in Europe predicted non-executives to offer fairly good potential," Chick observes.

Necklaces and rings ranked as the fastest-growing categories across the market, while diamonds were found to dominate as the most prevalent material used in single finished jewellery. "Freshwater and white South Sea pearls were rated as the most popular pearls," Chick notes.

Some 60% of exhibitors and buyers said the acceleration of gold prices would impact jewellery designs, with about 25% reducing gold usage. "Sterling silver and platinum were the desired materials to replace gold," Chick says.