1 March 1998
COOL AND TRENDY(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,1998)
COOL AND TRENDY
COLOURS THAT CAPTIVATE
COOL AND TRENDY
White Gold / Plantinum Jewellery
THE white look continues to take the jewellery world by storm. The chic, silvery tones of white gold and platinum offer a refreshing change from yellow gold and perfectly complement today's monochrome fashion styles.
"Most of our customers only want platinum. Yellow gold has been in the market a long time and people want something new," says Andrew Law, general manager at Peter Lam Jewellery Ltd.
Of the 800-1,000 classic, European-style pieces the 12-year-old company produces monthly, 80% are platinum 900. Most of the rest are two-tone platinum and 18K yellow gold. White gold accounts for a fraction of sales.
Items in the princess cut collection, which was introduced last year, are priced from US$700 to US$800 FOB Hong Kong per piece and consist primarily of cast items. Lavish, handmade three-piece sets can sell for US$10,000-500,000.
The princess cut collection features jewellery set with 15-25-point, SI diamonds in H-I colours. Japan and the US are the line's biggest export markets. Handmade pieces, with diamonds and precious stones up to 30 carats, sell well in the Middle East and Singapore.
"We're trying to expand into Europe. We would like to get an agent for Germany and Italy," Law says. The company also plans to introduce an under US$500 line this year. "It will be aimed at younger customers. The diamonds will be smaller and the designs will be more fashion oriented," he explains.
There is no minimum order. Delivery takes four weeks after order confirmation.
At Gold Mine Jewellery Ltd, platinum and white gold jewellery sales have surged 40% over the past two years, says Vivian Chang, administration manager at the firm, established more than 30 years ago. "Eighty percent of what we make is platinum 900 jewellery and 18K white gold," she says, with the rest 18K yellow gold.
Most of the platinum jewellery is destined for Japan and Taiwan, the company's two major markets. "Our other markets are [South] Korea and Malaysia. We stick mainly to Asia," Chang says.
Ninety percent of the 1,500 pieces the firm manufactures monthly are handmade. Platinum items generally sell for US$1,300-8,000; the range for white gold is US$800-2,000. Rings are the company's best sellers.
"White gold is lighter and cheaper than platinum, so younger people tend to buy it," she says. Two-tone, either 18K yellow gold and platinum or yellow and white gold, is strong in Japan.
The company is known for its dressy, Japanese-style designs. "We use diamonds, some in natural pink or yellow, in sizes from melées to three carats. We also use 13-16-millimetre South Sea pearls. Sometimes we put the pearls and the diamonds together," Chang says.
No minimum order is required and delivery takes 3-4 weeks.
Platinum has also taken centre stage at Universal Jewellery Design Center Ltd, established 50 years ago. Sales have increased 20% over the last several years, says marketing manager Ronald Chu.
Universal makes high-quality, handmade jewellery. Platinum 900 or 950 accounts for 70% of the 2,000 pieces the company's 150 craftsmen turn out monthly.
Although prices can go as high as US$1m per piece, the most saleable range for individual items is US$1,000-10,000. Three- or four-piece sets sell for US$20,000-100,000.
Universal specialises in classic and contemporary European-style jewellery, often with centre stones over one carat. Diamonds (including fancy yellows and pinks), South Sea pearls over 10 millimetres in size and precious stones are favourites.
A line for younger consumers features cast jewellery with diamonds averaging 10 points and is priced at U$$200-2,000 per piece.
With a 35% share, Asia is the company's largest single market. Europe and the US each account for 15%. The remainder is divided between the Middle East and South America.
A minimum order of 5-10 items is required for cast pieces, but no minimum applies to handmade jewellery. Delivery ranges from four to six weeks, depending on the complexity of the piece.
At The World Jewellery Co Ltd, platinum has been a mainstay since the firm was founded more than a decade ago. "We started with platinum because of our exports to Japan," says distribution manager Jack Lau.
About 70% of the 2,000 pieces the firm's 60 workers make monthly are platinum 900 and 30% 18K yellow gold. Forty percent are handmade and the rest are cast.
Its antique or modern European-style jewellery is primarily set with diamonds and South Sea pearls. "For our modern designs, we use one large 20-70-point centre stone. But we use a lot of smaller stones for the antique styles," Law says.
The company offers three distinct collections. Its fashion jewellery line for younger consumers sells for HK$6,000 and up, antique and modern styles set with diamonds and precious stones go for HK$10,000 and up, and prices for its top-end antique-design line start at HK$20,000. Three-piece sets (ring, earring and pendant) are priced from HK$20,000 and up.
About 40% of its merchandise is exported to Southeast Asia, 35% to Japan, 20% to the US, and 5% to Europe. No minimum order is required and goods are shipped in four weeks.
Demand for white metal jewellery at Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Ltd has increased 30% over the past year. Half of the 49-year-old firm's output is 14K or 18K white gold, or platinum 900 or 950, says manager Kevin Lee.
Known for its dressy, ornate styles, which feature large centre stones, usually diamonds, the company has recently begun to shift towards more simple designs. About 200 handmade pieces are produced each month, along with 1,000 cast pieces. The most saleable range is US$500-800 per piece.
The company's export markets are spread worldwide, but considering the recent Asian economic crisis, the company plans to focus more on sales in the US, Lee says.
There is no minimum order. Delivery takes 2-8 weeks, depending on whether a single piece or four-piece set is ordered.
A line of 18K white gold jewellery set with one- or two-point diamonds, selling for under US$200 per piece, was introduced a year ago. "Sales have been good, especially in the US," says Lee.
Written by Andrea Pawlyna
THE art of alloying, mixing two or more metals together, changes the metals' properties, reduces the cost of the finished product and, importantly for jewellery, improves the appearance.
Gold is often alloyed to change a metal's colour, thus giving jewellers a wide variety of hues and tones to work with. Some retain the warm yellow of pure gold, others are tinged with the red of copper, and some, turned white by palladium or nickel, can resemble platinum.
These three are the most common colours, but pink, green, blue, grey, purple and orange are also available. Presenting designers with an outlet for their creativity, tricolour gold items are a perennial favourite.
Aurostyle Ltd specialises in tricolour jewellery and has been manufacturing in Hong Kong for more than 10 years, according to sales and marketing manager Dora Sit.
Rings account for more than 50% of production, and prices range from US$10 to US$1,000 FOB Hong Kong. Best-selling items are 18K gold tricolour rings set with diamonds. Qualities used are G-H colour, SI clarity, with a total weight of 25 points. Prices for these rings range from US$150 to US$200, says Sit.
She attended the year's first trade fair of the jewellery calendar in Vicenza, Italy, and though business was slow, she could see opportunities for sales. "Very commercial quality goods priced around US$15 are popular and we can service that demand," she says.
Quality always remains a priority for Aurostyle and the quality control is tight. "It is important for us to check how the pieces have been soldered together. We check the finish and colour matches in all the pieces. We are strong on details," says Sit.
With the company's concentration in 18K gold pieces, Europe is the major market. "We feel confident with our products for 1998 because we have spent a lot of time developing them. The currency situation may play a part in business this year, especially with the US dollar so strong," she says.
Aurostyle produces 40,000 pieces from its factories in Hong Kong and Vietnam. The Vietnam factory, in Ho Chi Minh, was established two years ago and is now fully operational. There is no minimum order and delivery time is within four weeks.
Albert Jewellery Co Ltd, established in 1991, has a factory in Guangdong, mainland China, producing 9-18K gold and platinum PT900 jewellery set with gemstones, mainly diamonds, priced at US$10-2,000.
Best-selling are rings in 18K gold set with H colour and SI clarity diamonds with a total weight of one carat. Price range is US$100-500.
Tricolour pieces are in fashion now, says marketing representative Mariana Chow. "People like the colour contrasts and the price is also attractive. Many of our designs feature heart shapes, which are popular all over the world, but especially in Asia," Chow says, adding that round designs featuring solitaire diamonds are also popular.
Three- and two-colour items have a long established tradition in the US, Albert's major export market. Sales to Asia, Europe and the Middle East are also important, while Japan has strong potential, according to Chow, but she is not sure when that market will recover from its economic slowdown.
She thinks business will be tougher this year but, by continuing to concentrate on good service and fair prices, she hopes prospects will be healthy.
The company manufactures about 15,000 pieces per month, there is no minimum order and delivery is within four weeks.
Jade Peace Ltd, founded in 1986, produces 18K gold and platinum PT900 pieces, in the US$200-3,000 price range, set with gemstones sourced worldwide, according to one of the founders and now director Ida Fu.
White and yellow 18K gold pieces are good sellers in the US$500 price range. Only diamonds of H-I colours and SI clarity are used, in channel or pavé setting.
Last year 50% of production was exported to Asia, 40% of that to Japan. The rest was sold locally. "Now the market is not so good and we have to develop other markets such as Europe," says Fu. She intends to promote the company's products heavily at trade fairs in Hong Kong throughout the year.
Jade Peace's factory in Hong Kong manufactures 2,000 items per month. there is no minimum order size and delivery is within four weeks.
In its primary operation as a retailer, DIF Ltd has its finger on the pulse of consumer demand. Knowing what is hot and what is not enables the exporting part of the business to keep ahead of competition. Last year, 30% of production was exported, with the rest sold through DIF's retail outlet in Hong Kong, according to managing director Yvonne Hsu. Exports went mostly to Japan, with sales to Taiwan and the US also important.
"Tricolour jewellery items are a matter of personal taste. Some customers like them and some don't. But whatever their taste there's no mistaking the distinctive and elegant look of tricolour items," Hsu says. All pieces manufactured by the company are designed in-house and diamonds, the only stones used, act as accents.
The high quality of workmanship, such as in a necklace containing more than seven carats of G-H colour and VS clarity diamonds, is characteristic of DIF's jewellery.
Hsu expects business to remain stable this year because the company is renowned for its high standards. "Holding on to present customers and keeping them satisfied is going to be important this year," she says.
Written by Johnny Edison
STATISTICS show that men buy more jewellery than women. However, most of these purchases are for the women in their lives, not for themselves. Jewellery manufacturers are trying to boost demand in this market by providing new designs and a wider selection.
Artistic Jewellery Ltd has been manufacturing men's jewellery items for more than 20 years and has seen a strong increase in demand in the past five years, according to marketing manager Stanley Chiu.
"Our production of men's rings, tie-bars and cuff-links is mainly of American design," says Chiu. Best-selling prices range from US$200 to US$700 FOB Hong Kong for 14K or 18K yellow gold pieces featuring diamonds and sometimes onyx or lapis lazuli.
Chiu says 20% of output is men's jewellery. "Artistic has been doing business, model making and taking orders for a long time now, and customers can take confidence from our company history," says Chiu.
The firm's factory in Hong Kong employs 60 workers producing up to 1,000 pieces a month. About 60% of output is exported to the US, where Artistic deals directly with wholesalers. This market showed the biggest increase in business last year and will continue to do so through 1998, according to Chiu.
Minimum order is three pieces per style and delivery time is within three weeks.
Eternity Mfg Ltd produces tie-bars and cuff-links priced at US$500-2,000. Designs that sell well to Europe, Eternity's major market since it started business in 1986, are made from 18K yellow gold. The US market requires more pieces in 14K white gold, according to spokesperson Peggy Leung.
Diamonds dominate in men's jewellery and other gemstones are seldom used. But the diamonds are used as accents only, with gold being the main feature of Eternity's big, bold designs.
Leung says only 5% of Eternity's production is men's jewellery. The best-selling items are 18K gold motion pendants, which feature designs incorporating loose diamonds and sell for US$500-1,000.
"Eternity's advantage is our unique products such as our motion pendants, as well as our high-quality and regular new designs. If an old customer comes to see us at a trade show we always have something new and interesting for them," Leung says.
Production of up to 300 pieces per month takes place in Hong Kong. Minimum order is 50 pieces and delivery takes four weeks.
Heng Ngai Jewelry (HK) Ltd manufactures predominantly women's rings and bracelets in 10-14K gold featuring commercial quality diamonds and coloured gemstones, and selling for US$100-300.
Director Vivian Lo says demand for men's jewellery has been increasing this year and trends are for simple, traditional designs. "Our main customers are US chain stores. They can find what they need from Heng Ngai since we offer good design, competitive prices and reliable service," says Lo.
The US accounts for 75% of exports, with Japan and Europe taking the rest. Lo sees business to the US booming as Asian economies cause consumers in the Far East to economise.
Heng Ngai has grown since its inception in 1978 into a large company producing up to 60,000 items per month at its factory in Guangdong, mainland China. There is no minimum order and delivery time is within four weeks for bulk orders.
Jewellery manufacturing is increasingly becoming automated, especially at Goldengoods Arts Co Ltd, which uses computerised numerical controlled (CNC) equipment to produce some of its pieces.
The equipment, which comes from Germany, computerises the whole production process for rings, according to marketing manager Philip Kwan, allowing for more efficient production and a higher quality finished product.
The firm also makes men's 18K gold jewellery and designs tend to be more basic than the women's lines, according to Kwan. Most of the bold geometric designs are cuff-links, which can also act as button covers. Diamonds of VS clarity, G colour and a total weight of 15-60 points are used, and end-product prices range from US$320 to US$520.
Kwan sees the CNC technology highly applicable to helping the company in its goal to develop a stronger line of men's jewellery.
The firm also offers perfume-bottle pendants and high-end jewellery sets priced at US$10,000-50,000.
The Middle East is Goldengoods' major market and has been since the company was founded in 1978. Kwan sees good potential for CNC-manufactured products in the Asian region this year, especially in Hong Kong, because new machines create a new product, something the jewellery market is always interested in.
The company has a factory employing 120 staff in Guangdong, on the mainland, and Kwan is confident of satisfying any order to customers' requirements. Minimum order is US$5,000 and delivery is within four weeks.
Royal Arts has been in business since 1965 and produces rings, earrings, pendants, brooches and cuff-links. The company's unique selling point is that all its jewellery is made using gold coins and Roman coins and sometimes set with coloured gemstones.
An 18K gold ring set with a Roman coin is priced at US$650, while earrings and pendants are priced lower, depending on the weight of the coin.
Royal Arts exports worldwide and produces up to 1,000 pieces per month. Minimum order is six pieces per style and delivery is within four weeks.
Written by Johnny Edison
COLOURS THAT CAPTIVATE
ALWAYS mysterious, opal's allure is derived from the almost magical play of colour that dances across the rainbow-like gemstones. No two stones, from white opal to boulder or black, are exactly alike.
Hong Kong has long had a reputation as a major production centre for opal jewellery, offering a broad range of colours, qualities and prices.
One of Hong Kong's biggest manufacturers of opal jewellery is Opal House Ltd, which turns out 5,000 pieces per month. White opal and opal doublets account for 95% of the total, with boulder and black opal pieces the remainder.
Sales have been strong for the past year, according to executive director Anna Cheng. Opal House makes a complete range of opal jewellery, including pearl enhancers with mountings of 9-18K gold, or platinum 900.
Seventy percent of items are cast and 30% handmade. "The cast pieces are made with calibrated stones, but the handmade ones are free-size pieces up to 50 carats," Cheng says. Diamonds, in sizes from 0.5 to 10 points, are frequently used as accents. Other precious or semiprecious stones are seldom used.
Prices range from US$8 to US$7,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece, with the most saleable at US$40-2,000. Most exports are destined for Australia, Europe and the US.
"In Australia, people want delicate designs with a very fine centre stone. In the US, consumers like big, chunky-looking styles and commercial-quality stones," she says.
"Europeans differ from country to country. For example, the English like smaller pieces, but the Germans prefer bold, geometric designs."
Minimum order is five pieces per style for cast items; there is no minimum for handmade pieces. Goods are shipped in 30-60 days.
The company plans to put more emphasis on sales of opal doublets. "We are developing more creative designs," says Cheng.
The speciality at Creative Holdings Ltd is black opal jewellery, for which prices range from US$400 to US$20,000 per piece.
"The lower prices are for stones with a blue, orange, yellow or green play of colour. The higher prices are for those that have a red colour," says Winnie Chow, a director of the two-year-old company, formerly known as Gempro Ltd.
The company, which has a five-year manufacturing history, also produces diamond jewellery with jadeite and precious stones.
Orders for opal jewellery have fallen off over the past year, and they now account for a minority of the company's total sales. "We make 100-200 pieces a month. Most are cast and are set with opal cabochons, but pieces with free-size stones are handmade," says Chow.
Settings are in either platinum 900 or 18K white or yellow gold. "We always use diamonds, round or taper cuts, with our opals," she says. Styles tend to be dressy and reflect Asian tastes.
No minimum order is required and shipments go out four weeks after order confirmation.
At DewCarat Ltd, the focus is on boulder opal doublet rings, earrings and pendants set in 14K or 18K yellow gold. "We use only free-size pieces, about 15-30 millimetres in size," says general manager Bronia Yip.
"We always add other stones, like 1-5 point diamonds and sometimes semiprecious stones, such as tanzanite, tourmaline and peridot, or rubies, sapphires and cultured pearls."
Prices range from US$200 to US$400 per piece, with modern, casual styles the most popular. "The pieces are half handmade and half cast," Yip says. Major markets are Japan, the US and Europe.
The six-year-old company, which concentrates mainly on diamond and precious stone jewellery, has no minimum order requirement. Delivery times depend on quantity four weeks is customary for small orders, and 45 days for orders of more than 1,000 pieces.
Free-size opals in asymmetrically designed jewellery are the most popular sellers at Designlink Jewellery (Mfg) Ltd. The eight-year-old firm is known for its white opal, boulder opal doublets and inlaid opal jewellery, says designer Ali Lee.
"Demand for opal jewellery has increased. The stone is quite unusual and is becoming more popular," Lee says. Designlink produces about 1,000 pieces of opal jewellery per month, about 70% of total output. The remainder is turquoise jewellery.
One- to two-carat single stones and 10-15-millimetre boulder opal doublets with 1-3 point diamonds and semiprecious stones, such as amethyst and pearls, are mounted in 9K, 14K or 18K gold. Inlaid opal accounts for 40% of sales.
"Our designs are American-style. They have a big look," notes Lee. Prices range from US$30 to US$400 per piece. Exports go mainly to the US and Australia. Minimum order is five pieces per model, with goods shipped in four weeks.
Trigrand Ltd manufactures about 500 pieces of opal jewellery per month for export mainly to the US. "We use white opal in calibrated sizes, normally 9x7-millimetre cabochons in oval, marquise and heart shapes," says sales manager Stephen Choi.
Modern-looking designs range from dressy to casual, with pieces priced from US$25 to US$500 each. Mountings are normally 14K or 18K gold, but 10K is available on customer request. Round or tapered baguette diamonds with total weights from 10 points to one carat give each piece an extra bit of dazzle.
Jewellery with diamonds and precious stones are the firm's main lines. Only a small percentage of sales are opal jewellery. Minimum order is 25 pieces and delivery takes about six weeks after order confirmation.
Vivid colour shines through in these free-form black opal pendants, each topped by a 10-point diamond and mounted in 18K white gold, and dressy black opal and diamond rings in platinum 900, all from Creative Holdings Ltd.
Written by Andrea Pawlyna
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