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Bigger Fair Boosts Business(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,2006)

Italy's loss will continue to be the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show's gain if Octavio Barba is typical of overseas buyers who want high-quality jewellery at the best possible price.

The owner of In Italy de Mexico has switched his buying allegiance from the traditional Italian market to Hong Kong after attending several editions of Asia's second-largest jewellery sourcing event.

"We used to source a lot of our products from Italy, but I decided to come to Hong Kong after discovering that even some of our Italian suppliers do their sourcing in Asia," the Mexican-based buyer explained.

Barba said the 23rd Hong Kong International Jewellery Show held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 6-9, 2006 was the third he had attended, adding that it was becoming "the most important place" for his firm to source new collections. "The show effectively groups everybody under one roof, the jewellery designs are top standard, and the pricing is good," he maintained.

This kind of enthusiasm was music to the ears for Anne Chick, senior exhibitions manager for fair organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC).

"We are delighted that the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2006 attracted a total of 29,246 buyers - 9% more than last year," she said.

Chick noted that the show recorded an across-the-board increase in the number of buyers from different countries and regions, including Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, the US, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, India, Australia, the Philippines, Korea and Italy.

"There were 16,062 buyers from outside Hong Kong, up 11% compared to the previous year, who accounted for 55% of the total," she observed. "In addition, there were 13,184 buyers from Hong Kong, up 7.5% from the 2005 show."

Chick added that more than 50 buying missions from 30 countries and regions visited the fair, while leading overseas participants included the International Coloured Gemstone Association, the Japan Jewellery Association, the Japan Jewellery Designers' Association and the Platinum Guild International.

Visitors came to see the products displayed by a record-breaking 1,977 exhibitors from 41 countries and regions, including Italy, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Korea, India, the US, Belgium, the Chinese mainland and, for the first time, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia.

"Hong Kong dominated the show with more than 1,100 exhibitors," Chick added, noting that the local industry was forecasting double-digit export growth, with shipments to the Chinese mainland alone tipped to soar 100%. "Hong Kong is the world's third-largest jewellery exporter after Italy and the US, and enjoyed a 23% jump in exports to HK$25.5bn last year."

A huge collection of gems of all colours and designs were on display at the fair, which also featured special zones where loose diamonds and a range of precious stones were on show.

A new zone called Treasures of Nature proved a great success, Chick claimed. "Dedicated to the display of loose diamonds, precious stones and pearls of exceptional quality, it attracted 31 exhibitors and will become a regular feature at future shows," she said.

Other popular zones included Le Salon Extraordinaire and the Designer Jewellery Galleria, where the finest jewellery from 39 leading brands and 48 famous designers was on display. "Quality timepieces and brand-name watches from 54 manufacturers were also on show at the Watch and Clock Pavilion," Chick added.

Another popular feature was Les Salons Privm, a private enclosure where buyers and exhibitors could discuss business in comfort near the centre of the exhibition hall.

Other highlights included a series of parades, where models showed off a wide selection of exquisite jewellery and watches from the Designer Jewellery Galleria, Watch & Clock Pavilion and Le Salon Extraordinaire.

"Award-winning designs from the 7th Hong Kong Jewellery Design Competition and the Chuk Kam Jewellery Design Competition 2006 were on display to promote the works of local designers," Chick added.

She is already busily preparing for the next Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, which will be held from March 6-10, 2007 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. "We opened an additional hall to accommodate the large number of exhibitors this year and, because of popular demand, are making next year's show a five-day event," Chick said.

"This will give traders a little more time to do business and, with this in mind, I believe the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2007 will grow to even greater heights."

Expert Advice

Regular visitors know that the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show is a great place to source vital market intelligence as well as first-class products, and this year's event was no exception.

Industry experts gave talks and seminars on the makeup of diamond, ruby and jade, the jewellery retail business on the Chinese mainland and jewellery trends in Europe.

Jewellery professionals enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the treatment of diamonds and jadeite by annealing at high pressure and high temperatures (HPHT) and treating diamonds by radiation as well as radiation combined with HPHT.

"The Recent Developments in Treatment and Synthesis of Diamond, Ruby and Jadeite" seminar saw Gemological Institute of America (GIA) research scientist Dr Wang Wuyi outline new techniques to grow better chemical vapour deposition (CVD) synthetic diamonds more quickly and explain how lead-glass fracture-filling can transform a lower quality corundum into a beautiful ruby.

Dr Wang analysed how a variety of attractive pink, red and blue diamonds can be produced with this treatment menu, outlined the gemological and spectroscopic features for detection and identification of these processes, and unveiled the GIA's new report for grading gem cuts.

Guangdong Gold & Silver Jewellery Association president Zhen Wei Gang gave a historical perspective of the jewellery industry on the mainland as well as an update on its current status during the "Road to Success for Jewellery Retail Business on the Chinese mainland" seminar.

"It has developed very rapidly in the past 10 years and is now much more international, with products such as silver and platinum doing well, though gold and jade remain very strong," he noted. He also outlined business registration and tax regulation matters as well as testing standard issues.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co Ltd director Kent Wong offered four elements for success on the mainland. "These are establishment of a good reputation, cultivation of an outstanding team, establishment of a quality brand, and close communication with government departments," Wong claimed.

He said it was vital that retailers plan for the long term and not focus on making short-term gains. "Also, they must be creative in their marketing ideas - China is not a traditional market in this respect."

The two-speaker "Jewellery and Fashion Trends in Europe" seminar also proved popular, with Solitaire editor-in-chief Christel Trimborn drawing style correlations between architecture, art, industrial design and other lifestyle trends. "All these inspirations are true for jewellery designers too," she declared.

Joailliers-Crmateurs French designer Thierry Valat gave attendees an insight into his home market, shared his vision of main future trends in top-of-the-range jewellery and was upbeat on the prospect of increased co-operation linking French design with Asian production. "I see great opportunities for French designers working with regional jewellery producers," he enthused.