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Vol.1 1999



AMID the unsettled economic environment in Asia, the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Watch Fair, the largest event of its kind in Asia, attracted 1,666 exhibitors from 41 countries/regions and 27,002 visitors from 85 locales.

The fair was held from 23-27 September 1998 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (CEC) and organised by Miller Freeman Asia Ltd.

Of the visitors, 35.7% were from overseas. Asian buyers (excluding Hong Kong) accounted for 24.8%, North and South America were second at 5.8%, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa rounded out the remaining 5.1%.

Although the number of visitors from some countries declined, several Asian countries reported increases compared with 1997. Thailand was up 45.2%, India 31.6%, Australia 31.1%, and Japan 7.8%. The growth in visitor figures from mainland China (65.7%), Taiwan (19.1%) and Hong Kong (12.5%) was also encouraging.

“We are pleased to have nearly achieved our target of 30,000 visitors, especially considering the challenging economic climate. But we are never satisfied and we are already working on our promotion plans for the September ’99 fair, with the aim of increasing even further the number of foreign trade buyers,” said Peter Sutton, a director of Miller Freeman Asia.

“In addition to the 27,002 buyers, there were 5,026 local and 3,100 overseas exhibitor personnel who buy and sell diamonds, pearls, gemstones and fine jewellery to/from other exhibitors, adding further strength to the dynamic nature of jewellery trading at the fair. We also learned from visitor and exhibitor interviews that many of the American and European buyers stayed at the fair for more days [than in 1997].”

First-time visitor Noor Mohma from the US shopped for rough and cut stones and found “a big variety of products at good prices”.

Jose Latre, from Spain, a perennial fair visitor, said he came for a wide range of jewellery, including diamonds, gems, pearls and semiprecious stones. “It was a good environment. Different kinds of goods could be found,” he said.

Panchaluck Thanumanee, of Thai diamond and platinum company Jewelex Co Ltd, believed the fair helped “promote our new products. We take it as a stepping stone to the American market”.

Buyers from Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong were also attracted to the historical brown, yellow and white jade exhibits at Hong Kong’s Tai Lee Co.

Many of the 70 exhibitors in the Fine Design Pavilion said the Pavilion gave them the opportunity to gain exposure to high-quality buyers, including higher-end retailers and private collectors.

Participants said they were satisfied with the overall appearance of the Pavilion, which contributed to the aura of luxury. All of the key exhibitors said they would return in 1999.

Buyers also responded positively to the pearl auctions. Robert Wan, who held the Robert Wan Tahiti Perles Auction, said the first international Tahiti pearl auction organised outside Tahiti was a success. “I took a big risk at a moment when the financial crisis was really affecting Asia. But I did well. I learned the market,” he said. Of 201 lots of loose Tahitian pearls and Tahitian pearl necklaces, 195 were sold.

At the 10th Paspaley Pearl Auction, held for the second time in Hong Kong in 1998, 199 out of 350 lots on offer were sold, with final prices 10.7% above reserve.

The fair was sponsored by the Hong Kong Diamond Bourse, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, the Gemmological Assn of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong & Kowloon Gold & Silver Ornaments and Wares Workers General Union, and the Kowloon Pearls, Precious Stones, Jade, Gold and Silver Ornament Merchants Assn.

The next September Hong Kong Jewellery & Watch Fair will be held from 22 to 26 September 1999 at the CEC.

Written by Andrea Pawlyna

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