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Crowing Glories(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,2007)

Fine Jewellery


Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Ltd specialises in creating dazzling jewellery utilising the finest of precious stones
Sapphires, rubies, amethysts, tourmalines, diamonds, pearls and white, yellow and rose gold are just part of the treasure trove of materials utilised by one of Hong Kong's biggest and most successful jewellery companies.

Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Ltd specialises in creating dazzling pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings, brooches and other ultra-desirable personal adornments for women, including members of some royal families in the Middle East.

"Our biggest market is the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi," reveals company executive Chris Wan, claiming that "members of the royal families of some of these oil-rich countries wear some of our most glittering products", but the details must stay confidential. "We are wholesalers, and the sales are made by local retailers there."

In addition, these customers like to present family members with bejeweled mementoes, which once again require the skills of Hong Kong Universal's design team and its master craftsmen.

For example, Hong Kong Universal's creations include such treasures as a solid gold and diamond-encrusted four-masted ocean clipper, an open model roadster and a model jet fighter plus the striking figurine of a desert falconer, his sharp-beaked bird with wings outstretched landing on a padded wrist.

Other items crafted for more feminine tastes include several ornamental bunches of flowers with leaves dripping with precious stones, and a large, diamond-encrusted golden "egg" that opens at a touch to reveal still more bejewelled treasures inside.

"Each is a masterpiece of the jeweller's craft - a superb example of the skills you would normally see only in the glorious old pieces on display in a museum," says Wan, stressing that each piece is unique.

"It takes a long time to finalise the design, then one of our top craftsmen must spend a couple of months turning the concept into reality, so we only produce these items for very special clients."

Wan maintains that Hong Kong Universal's biggest assets are its exclusive designs and the high quality of its workmanship, which appeal to clients in the US, Europe and Japan as well as the Middle East.

"When you're in such a high-quality luxury market you must follow the money," says Wan, whose father was one of the four founders of the company in the 1950s.

Until the 1970s, Hong Kong Universal concentrated on tailor-made jewellery items designed and produced to meet overseas customers' specific demands, but since the 1980s the company has evolved and started creating its own collections for international jewellery exhibitions. "Hong Kong Universal is a Hong Kong pioneer when it comes to exhibiting its products at international jewellery shows," Wan claims.

Since then, Hong Kong Universal has developed into a well-known producer of fine, handmade jewellery thanks to its 300 craftsmen, who flawlessly fashion customer requests - more than 80% of which is completely handmade.

Its own collection is called Bijoux de La Vie (Jewels of Life), a lively collection inspired by the elements of life and nature and consisting of central taper or baguette diamonds encircled by round brilliants that create animated heart, flowers, leaves and butterfly styles.

Wan says examples can be seen in high society gatherings from London and Paris to New York and Tokyo. "Each design is patented and we hold every copyright," he insists.

"We are most particular about safeguarding our IP rights since the collection was the result of painstaking international market research and many months' planning at the directorate level, followed by a range of design mock-ups by our 10-strong R&D team and eventually more fine-tuning before each product was perfected."

One of his main responsibilities is to "fly the flag" for Hong Kong Universal at the annual round of major global jewellery fairs, beginning with the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show in March and continuing with such key events as Basel, Vicenza, Las Vegas, Korea, New York, London, Bahrain and Tokyo - plus Macau from next January.

From his observations during recent travels to these and other leading international exhibitions, Wan believes that the new trend in costume jewellery will see a move away from the basic 18K white gold now widely in use to yellow and rose gold.

"There is also now enough wealth in Russia for it to become a viable market, with some spin off in Eastern Europe," Wan predicts. "We may also start focusing on China - perhaps in a few more years."

Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Ltd

4-5/F, Lyndhurst Bldg,
25-41 Lyndhurst Terrace,
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2541-3004
Fax: 852-2541-5026
Web: www.hkuniversal.com