1 Sept 1998
DAZZLING APPEAL(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,1998)
RETURN OF THE JADEITE
RICH in appeal and full of sparkle, diamonds continue to dominate in jewellery retailers' showcases this season. Seeing strong demand from the US, Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers are giving the market what it desires: affordably priced, creatively designed and attractively finished pieces.
Golden Master Jewellery Ltd makes diamond jewellery at its factory in Panyu, mainland China. The firm was set up in Hong Kong in 1991 and it opened the factory two years later. Director Iris Kan says demand from the US for the company's jewellery has grown recently, partly as a result of a strong sales team in New York.
"Our best-selling designs are necklaces and bracelets priced at US$2,000 FOB Hong Kong. The US accounts for 80% of our sales and, though sales have dropped in Asia, our exports to the US are increasing," she says.
Design is always the first consideration for Golden Master's creations, according to Kan, with quality and price also important to attract customers. There is no minimum order and delivery is within four weeks.
Continental Jewellery (Mfg) Ltd, established in 1975, is one of the largest jewellery manu-facturers in Hong Kong. The firm has a factory on the mainland with more than 300 workers turning out about 20,000 pieces per month.
Within the range of 9K, 14K and 18K gold and platinum jewellery priced from US$30 to US$400 a piece, vice-president Joe Lee notes specific demand for rings in 18K white gold.
"Our customers are looking for more competitive prices so we have been using lower-quality diamonds recently," he says, noting a trend towards 18K gold and platinum mix using six-point I clarity, I colour diamonds for a total weight of 30-50 points. Best-selling price is US$300, according to Lee.
The US is by far Continental's largest market, accounting for 60% of exports, followed by Europe. "In the next 12 months there will be more emphasis on design, not price. We will need more creativity in our product because customers will be motivated to buy due to the fresh look, not the lower price," he says.
Jewellery Collection Co has kept all its manufacturing in Hong Kong, turning out about 4,000 pieces per month, all in 18K white and yellow gold, and platinum. The company specialises in antique designs and produces new designs each month, according to manager Kevin Yau.
Rings are the best sellers for Jewellery Collection, especially diamond. "H colour 18K white gold rings, VVS clarity diamonds of total weight of one carat and priced at about US$500 to US$4,000 are our best-selling products at the moment," says Yau.
Established in 1990, the company exports half of its jewellery to Europe, which has accounted for the biggest jump in business in the past year, according to Yau. Japan, Taiwan and the US are also important markets for Jewellery Collection.
"Our business advantage comes from our smaller production base, which means we can keep a tighter control on quality and design for our customers," Yau says.
Minimum order is 20 pieces and delivery is within 21 days.
Diamond Dimensions (HK) Ltd manufac-tures fancy diamond wedding sets, mainly semi-mounted, for export to the US. The company was established in Hong Kong by directors Steve Gabel and Elizabeth Man Gabel in 1992.
"We have thousands of models and Elizabeth is a world-class designer with many patents and copyrights to her name," says Steve Gabel.
Best-selling items need to hit a retail price of under US$2,000, according to Gabel, so the best sellers are priced at about US$200-400, without the centre diamond, which is set later by the buyer or retailer.
"US design has changed in the last six months. It has gone from flowing lines featuring a lot of diamonds to straight lines with fewer stones, which are popular now," Gabel says. Profitability is higher in simpler designs and the market has been moving that way.
The company employs 18 people who manufacture 4,000 pieces per month, all in Hong Kong. "Hong Kong is by far the best place for our type of production. Our pieces require very labour-intensive work, especially with the setting. Hong Kong has the best quality-to-price ratio in the industry," Gabel says.
There is no minimum order and delivery is within eight weeks.
As well as being one of the oldest established jewellery companies in Hong Kong, Larry Jewelry Ltd, established in 1967, is one of the Special Administrative Region's most visible retailers.
The firm makes 18K yellow and white gold, and platinum PT950 high-end jewellery, predominantly rings. Pieces sell for US$1,000-300,000. More than 85% of production is sold at retail, the remainder is exported, mainly to Europe, Japan and the US.
According to general manager Stanley Chan, the most popular price point at present is US$7,000. "Diamond rings with G-H colour, VVS-VS clarity stones with a total weight of about one carat are best selling," says Chan.
Larry Jewelry has factories in Hong Kong and Singapore focusing on high-quality gemstones and workmanship. "Our designs are unique. We only produce one design for each customer and our 30 years of experience mean we are able to satisfy our customers," he says.
Written by Johnny Edison
FROM blue to brilliant red, green and golden orange, semiprecious gemstones come in all colours, and jewellery manufacturers with strong design backgrounds match these hues to fashion trends to create lines of distinct appeal.
Glorious Jewelry Ltd follows women's fashions with its lines of jewellery. "Our jewellery is good to match summer fashions in Japan. It fits the style of Japanese women and our prices are attractive,"says president Julianna Ho.
Since the company was established in 1991, business with Japan has been healthy and despite the economic downturn in that market Ho hopes Japan will continue to source the firm's unique designs. Other markets are Europe and Southeast Asia. "We are trying to develop other markets and are making more sales trips to Europe and the Asian region,"says Ho.
Designs with purpose-cut gemstones featuring animals, vegetables and fruit predominate the collections. The firm uses 18K yellow and white gold and platinum PT900 set with diamonds and semiprecious stones priced from US$150 to US$4,000 FOB Hong Kong. Best-selling, according to Ho, are a snail brooch made from 18K white gold set with diamonds and ruby accent stones, and a large faceted amethyst priced at US$250. Other brooches, rings and pendants feature citrine and blue topaz.
The company's factory in Panyu, mainland China, manufactures 3,000 pieces per month. Minimum order is three pieces per style and delivery lead time is one month.
Lo & Rador Int'l has been exporting finished semiprecious jewellery and dealing in loose gemstones since 1968. The company produces up to 500 items per month of 18K gold jewellery set with semiprecious stones and diamonds. It has factories in Hong Kong and mainland China.
Popular items are earrings with a colourful mix of citrine and green tourmaline set in 18K yellow gold and priced at US$3,300. The earrings are part of a similarly colourful set with a necklace, ring and bracelet. Other bracelets feature gemstones such as topaz, amethyst, citrine and tourmaline.
There is no minimum order and delivery takes up to one month, depending on order size.
With 10 years' experience as a manufacturer of exclusive lines of high-quality coloured gemstone jewellery, DWL Creations Ltd has an established reputation with its customers. Production is mainly of 18K gold and platinum PT900 ranging in price from US$300 to US$1,500.
"Our strength is in semiprecious gemstone jewellery items featuring specially cut stones priced at US$300-500. All our manufacturing is done in Hong Kong, ensuring high quality,"says managing director Davies Tan.
The company usually works with topaz, amethyst and citrine as the main gemstones, accented with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds. These come in common colours that are easy for consumers to match to outfits, according to Tan.
DWL is known for its strength of design, a feature which emanates from Tan and his designer. "Our target is companies who require something unique for their customers. We work with these to make them exclusive pieces, so we have a very specific market share,"says Tan.
The US market has been growing for DWL this year, accounting for 50% of exports and helping to make up for an understandable slowdown in sales to Asian countries.
The company produces about 200 pieces a month, all in Hong Kong. There is no minimum order and delivery takes 45 days.
Like many companies manufacturing semiprecious jewellery, Gallant Gems Co is also a gemstone cutter. This widens the range of colours used in its collection. Sugilite, rainbow obsidian and rhodochrosite are often used as well as the more well-known gems such as turquoise, aquamarine and opal.
Gallant has a new collection each month, with prices ranging from US$3 to US$10,000, according to manager Janis Ho. Pendants in 18K gold set with semiprecious gemstones priced at US$100 are the best sellers. Ho notes a special interest in the rich orange hues of Mexican opal, but supply of the stone is never able to match demand.
Exports are split equally between the US and Europe, with sales to Japan down this year. "Our craftsmanship is very important, especially in this difficult market. We have been doing business since 1975 so we are lucky to have good, established customers. We are confident they will always come back to us after they have compared our products to [those of] other companies,"Ho says.
Established in 1995, Richard Jewelry Co Ltd manufactures fine jewellery priced from US$500 to US$10,000. The major market is Japan and this is reflected in the company's designs, says director Richard Wong.
White 18K gold is popular, creating striking rings and earrings set with contrasting onyx and diamonds, and priced from US$600 to US$1,400.
All manufacturing is done in Hong Kong. Minimum order is US$5,000 per shipment and delivery is within six weeks.
Written by Johnny Edison
RETURN OF THE JADEITE
THE beauty, rarity, and legendary durability of jadeite have entranced gemstone connoisseurs for centuries. Among the Chinese, jadeite's presumed properties of bringing luck and warding off evil make this stone especially sought after.
In recent years, styles from Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers have evolved from purely Asian designs to more simple pieces with a more universal appeal.
"Jadeite jewellery has changed a lot over the past five years. It's become more modern," says Frank Lee, manager at Prosperity Jewellery Co, which has been in business for 35 years.
Prosperity Jewellery typically uses A-type Imperial green jadeite cabochons set in platinum 900 or 18K white gold with diamonds. "We're using diamonds " rounds, baguettes and pear-shapes " much more frequently than we did 10 years ago. Sometimes we add fancy colours, mainly yellow or pink," Lee says.
Prices range from HK$100,000 to HK$300,000 per piece FOB Hong Kong. All of its jade jewellery " about 50 pieces per month " is handmade and no minimum order is required. Delivery time depends on quantity ordered.
The company is best known for its jadeite rings and earrings, with sets priced from HK$50,000 to HK$2.5m. "We sell medium- to high-end jewellery. The lower the price, the simpler the design," he says.
Asian customers in Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and the US account for 95% of sales.
Hui Brothers Jade Co specialises in jewellery with A- and B-type commercial grade jadeite. "Eighty percent of sales are commercial quality from US$100 to US$1,000 per piece. The other 20% can go up to US$15,000 per piece," says Gordon Hui, one of four brothers who founded the company in 1972.
"We buy Imperial jadeite for our high-quality pieces and apple-green for our commercial range," he adds. Settings are usually 18K yellow or white gold. High-quality pieces are set off by 1-10-point round or tapered diamonds.
Cabochons, doughnuts, saddle rings and beads are among the traditional shapes that sell best. "We also do simple carvings, such as fruit and birds, which we set with diamonds," says Hui. A small number of pieces, mainly saddle rings and cuff-links, are made for men.
The most expensive pieces " about 60 per month " are handmade, while the rest are cast. Monthly production totals about 300 pieces.
About 90% of the company's exports are absorbed by the US. "We're thinking about going into Europe. We're going to try next year," Hui says.
Minimum order is 20 pieces. Delivery takes 1-2 weeks.
Jadeite jewellery designs at Wing Cheong Jewellery & Jade (Mfy) Co Ltd range from traditional to modern, and the stones from commercial to top quality. "We use A-type apple-green and Imperial jadeite," says manager Gladys Do.
Stones are set in 18K yellow or white gold accented by round or baguette 2-10-point diamonds. The company, founded in 1983, makes jade pendants, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches and rings. Men's cuff-links or rings can be made on customers' requests. Almost all of the 500 jadeite jewellery pieces produced each month are cast.
"The shapes are quite simple and elegant. We use cabochons, slabs, heart-shapes and some bangles," Do says. Prices start at about US$200, rising to US$20,000 per piece.
Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia are the primary export markets for Wing Cheong's jadeite jewellery, which represents about 20% of the firm's total jewellery sales. Despite the Asian economic downturn, Do says the company hopes to increase sales in the region. "We're trying to hold our costs down. We also want to put more emphasis on modern designs to appeal to younger buyers," she says.
There is no minimum order and delivery takes four weeks after order confirmation.
Lyons Emprise (HK) Ltd has produced jadeite jewellery for 20 of the 26 years the company has been in business. It manufactures about 10,000 pieces of jadeite jewellery each month, about 10% of its total monthly production.
"The market is becoming more knowledgeable, so we've changed our designs and updated them," says general manager Teresa Ng. "We try to mix traditional shapes with modern designs. We use sterling silver mountings and 10K, 14K and 18K white or yellow gold combined with diamonds and cultured or freshwater pearls."
The company carries commercial- to top-grade stones in Imperial green, apple-green and other colours. Both A- and B-type jadeite are available. Most pieces are cast, but some are handmade.
Jade and 14K gold rings typically sell for US$60-90, bangle bracelets from US$60 to US$150 and necklaces from US$50 to US$600. Men's jade jewellery, such as cuff-links and tie-pins, is also produced.
The US accounts for 60% of exports, Europe 25% and Japan the remainder, says Ng. Minimum order is to the value of US$8,000 and delivery takes 4-6 weeks.
Jewellery Jade Ltd mixes A-type chilli-green jadeite with rubies, sapphires and diamonds for a colourful effect, says managing director Chan Kwan-lok. Stones are set in 18K white or yellow gold.
Jade jewellery and diamond jewellery represent 50% of production, with chuk kam (24K gold) jewellery the remainder.
The company, which manufactures 200 jade items per month, produces a full line of women's jewellery, along with cuff-links and pendants for men, selling for about HK$3,000-200,000. "Our designs are not too traditional. We have some newer ideas," says Chan.
Pieces are cast or, in the case of more expensive items, handmade. There is no minimum order and delivery is made in 10 working days.
Asia is Jewellery Jade's dominant market for jadeite jewellery, but the firm also began selling to the US last year, Chan says.
Written by Andrea Pawlyna
Brooches & Hair Ornaments
ROOCHES can add a dash of sparkle to any outfit, while the crowning touch of a bejewelled hair ornament can make anyone feel like royalty.
Unconventional and imaginative sculptures, brooches can be witty, playful or dignified, while hair ornaments give designers similar scope to exercise their creativity.
At Jewellery Flair Ltd, which specialises in antique-style brooches, a mostly white look - with diamonds set in 18K white gold Ñ is preferred, says manager Salina Chow. "Sometimes we use precious coloured stones and, if the customer wants, we can provide platinum mountings,"she says. Stones are generally 1-15 points.
The company is known for its graceful, delicate designs in the shape of flowers, butterflies and bows. Brooches tend to be large, with numerous stones per piece, and semi-hollow to cut down on the weight.
Priced from HK$20,000 to HK$100,000 FOB Hong Kong, they are exported to Japan, the UK and US. Others are sold at the company's two retail shops in Hong Kong. Medium- and smaller-sized brooches can also be used as pendants, Chow says.
The company produces about 20 handmade brooches per month and about half as many comb or clip-style hair ornaments, which sell for HK$5,000-100,000.
Minimum order is US$5,000, with delivery taking one month. Pieces carry the firm's JF brand name.
Colourful brooches that double as pendants are available from Po Shu Jewellery Co Ltd. "We do a lot with flowers, so we use brighter colours like jade, rubies and sapphires,"says manager Chan Sai-min.
The nine-year-old firm manufactures about 20 brooches per month, specialising in antique styles set in platinum 900 or 18K white or yellow gold. Most are cast and exported to Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and the US.
Prices range from HK$50,000 to HK$70,000 per piece. "We've lowered our prices so that we have more end users,"says Chan, adding that they had been HK$10,000-30,000 higher two years ago. Stone sizes are usually 10 points or below, compared with 20-30 points before. Mountings are also lighter in weight.
Po Shu Jewellery began making a small number of clip and comb-style hair ornaments for Japan and Taiwan two years ago. "They're getting more popular,"Chan says. They sell for HK$20,000-40,000 per piece.
The company exports its entire monthly jewellery production of 250 pieces. Minimum order is five pieces and goods are shipped four weeks after order confirmation.
Brooches with semiprecious stones set in 18K gold shine at Kings Mark Designer & Mfy Ltd, which has been in business since 1979. Dramatic flowers and simple circles are among the eye-catching designs. "We like quite large brooches that have more of a chunky style,"says marketing executive Fiona Ma.
Typical semiprecious stones used are amethyst, peridot and citrine, combined with diamonds. Larger brooches can contain as many as 100 stones, while smaller ones usually have about 10.
About 80% of the 100 brooches the company produces monthly are exported to the US, Europe and Japan, and sell for US$300-400 per piece. Depending on the complexity of the design, some are handmade, others cast, says Ma.
About 40 % are created with multifunctional considerations in mind. "The brooch can be used as a pendant. It makes people feel like they are getting more for their money,"she says.
Minimum order is 30 pieces and delivery takes 3-4 weeks.
Omnia Jewellery offers lobster, pig and stingray design brooches featuring precious and semiprecious stones.
Onyx, coral, mother-of-pearl and tourmaline are used in conjunction with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires, says manager Lai Yuk-wang. Cabochons and faceted stones are often combined in the same piece.
"We like unusual designs. We mostly use mêlées and star stones. With semiprecious stones, we can use more of them to create an effect,"he says.
Lai says the company strives for strong lines and simple designs, and prices its brooches below HK$40,000 each. "We like a more delicate look,"he adds.
Though they may contain up to 100-200 stones, the brooches are small enough to appeal to consumers in Japan which, with Europe, is one of Omnia's primary markets.
The company makes less than 50 brooches a year, compared with 300 pieces of jewellery per month. Lai feels that "making brooches is good for our image".
There is no minimum order and delivery takes 4-5 weeks.
Ise Jewellery Co Ltd makes large, medium and small brooches for export to Japan and the US. "We are especially known for our large brooches, which can contain over 1,000 stones. They look heavy but we make them light,"says general manager Mona Lam.
The seven-year-old company produces an average of 10 handmade large, 50 medium, and 100 small brooches per month at prices ranging from HK$2,000 to HK200,000. Most can also be worn as a pendant.
South Sea pearls, diamonds and coloured precious stones are favoured for use in 18K gold mountings, but semiprecious stones, such as pink tourmaline, may occasionally be employed.
"We have very colourful pieces and pieces with only diamonds and pearls. With designs, we follow the market. This year it's stars and moons, last year it was flowers and leaves,"Lam says.
Ise Jewellery began manufacturing small quantities of comb and clip-style hair ornaments, priced from HK$2,000 to HK$3,000, in 1997, and Lam says demand is growing, mainly in Japan and Taiwan. "They're more difficult to make than brooches. We have to custom-make each one to suit the way each person holds her hair."
Exports account for 40% of the total monthly jewellery production of 400 pieces, with the rest sold at the company's two retail shops in Hong Kong.
Minimum orders for brooches are 1-2 for large sizes, five for medium and 10 for small sizes. There is no minimum order for hair ornaments. Delivery takes 2-4 weeks after order confirmation.
Written by Andrea Pawlyna
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