1 Sept 2000
Dazzling Delights(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,2000)
Pleasures In Many Colours
New Twists For Wrists
DIAMONDS exert a powerful grip on people's imaginations. Dazzling brilliance and legendary hardness make them the world's most demanded gemstones. Hong Kong companies use these marvels of nature to create beautifully crafted, wearable jewellery.
Delicate, antique-style, diamond brooches from Gold Field Co are one example. Mounted in 18K white gold, the brooches range from floral designs to ornately abstract. Such antique-style items, popular in the US and Europe, account for about 35% of almost 8,000 mainly cast pieces made by the 10-year-old company each month.
Gold Field produces a full range in various styles, including diamond jewellery sets (necklace, earrings, ring and bracelet) in 18K white gold. The sets have sold well, notably in the US and Switzerland.
Gold Field's most saleable range is priced at US$90-3,000 per piece FOB Hong Kong. Some items reach US$6,000. On request, 14K gold and platinum settings are available.
Most pieces are set with diamonds 2-25 points in size. "In the US, buyers like small stones, so we might make a necklace with 300 two-point diamonds. Europeans want bigger sizes, 15-25 points, but with fewer than 50 stones," says Gold Field manager Fanny Cheng.
All production is OEM or private label. The company exports to the US, Middle East, Europe and Asia. No minimum order is required, with delivery 10-14 days after order confirmation.
"Our designs and workmanship are good, and our prices are competitive," Cheng says.
Fresh, contemporary styles to wear by day or evening are a mainstay at Jewellery Collection Mfr Ltd. "Our daytime line sells better because we target working and younger women," says head officer Pamela Lau.
Typically mounted in 18K white gold, each piece has small diamonds weighing less than one carat. Platinum and 14K gold settings are available. Items priced at HK$2,000-3,000 (US$256-385) per piece FOB Hong Kong are the most saleable.
Jewellery Collection is equally adept at precious-stone creations. Three-quarters of the 5,000 pieces created monthly carry the company's JC brand, which it has used since 1989. Private-label orders account for the remaining business. Major markets are Asia, Europe and the US.
"We are thinking about expanding into the Chinese mainland," adds Lau. Delivery is 4-6 weeks after confirmation. No minimum order applies.
Wing Cheong Jewellery & Jade (Mfy) Co Ltd is known for classic diamond creations, which it ships mainly to the US and Europe.
"Diamond jewellery represents 40% of our sales, and the portion is growing, perhaps because diamonds have such a sense of luxury," says Wing Cheong general manager Gladys Do.
The company uses 2-point to 10-point round, princess or baguette diamonds in 18K white gold or 900 platinum mountings. "Our best-selling range is US$175-500 per piece FOB Hong Kong, but we have items up to US$5,000," Do adds.
Customers appreciate a collection of invisibly set diamond jewellery introduced last year. "We keep adding more pieces to it," Do says.
Wing Cheong also makes pearl, jadeite and precious-stone jewellery, producing a total of 10,000 pieces per month. High-end items have no minimum order, but a three-piece minimum applies to lower-cost creations. Delivery takes 3-4 weeks after order confirmation.
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co Ltd, established in 1929, is a venerable maker of diamond, precious-stone, pearl, jadeite, platinum and gold jewellery.
Diamond creations in 18K gold (white or yellow) or platinum 900 make up the best-selling line. "We use a range of diamond sizes, both round and fancy cuts," says Chow Tai Fook administrative assistant manager Tony Cheng. Styles vary from Western to antique to Asian. More than 100 new designs are added each month.
Though known as a Hong Kong retailer, the company exports 10% to Asian markets, including Singapore. "We want to expand more," Cheng says.
The most popular pieces are priced below HK$10,000 (US$1,282) FOB Hong Kong. Treasures, a more fashion-oriented line aimed at buyers below age 30, generally sells for less than HK$5,000 (US$641) per piece.
The company makes 30,000-40,000 pieces per month, all stamped with Chow Tai Fook or Treasures brand names.
There is no minimum order. Delivery, following confirmation, takes 2-6 weeks, depending on quantity and urgency. "We're flexible," says Cheng.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Pleasures In Many Colours
SPANNING the commercial spectrum, semiprecious gemstones delight the eye and are often an affordable alternative to rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Along with their rich veins of colour, semiprecious stones create exciting design possibilities.
Big and bold are the goals of Universe Gems & Jewellery Co's dressy European-style jewellery. "US customers represent about 80% of our sales, and they like a bigger look," says company president Samuel Sam. The company's other markets are Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Founded in 1976, Universe specializes in jewellery set with semiprecious stones in sterling silver and 14K or 18K gold. "We use 2-3 carat stones, like amethyst, citrine, garnet and blue topaz, mostly in oval, octagon or round cuts," Sam says, but onyx, lapis lazuli and jadeite are gaining favour.
Both opaque and transparent stones are in demand, with purple or blue colours the latest trend. Single-coloured pieces are preferred, although multicoloured ones sell too. Sometimes 1-2 point diamonds are incorporated to add sparkle.
Universe Gems & Jewellery produces about 20,000 pieces per month, half of them rings. Its gold items range from US$100-300 per piece FOB Hong Kong and sterling silver from US$30-100 per piece. The company accepts OEM and private-label orders.
"Two-tone jewellery (sterling silver and 14K gold) has become more popular in the past year. Sales are up 30-50%," Sam says.
No minimum order applies for gold items. For sterling-silver pieces, the minimum is six pieces per style. Delivery for orders of less than 1,000 pieces is two weeks after confirmation. Larger orders take four weeks.
Blue topaz, from the Chinese mainland and Germany, in freestyle cuts is a speciality of nine-year-old Elegance Jewellery Int'l Ltd. "We always cut to order," says managing director Ricky Lam.
Topaz, typically in sizes of 4-7 carats, is mounted in 18K white gold or 900 platinum, with star or melee diamonds added for contrast. "White looks better against the blue topaz," says Lam, "but we can also produce yellow gold."
Smartly dressed working women, aged 25-35, are the firm's target customers. Its largest market is Japan, which has a 40% share, followed by the US at 30%, Europe at 25% and Southeast Asia at 5%.
Elegance Jewellery manufactures 200-300 pieces of topaz jewellery per month. Its semiprecious stone jewellery, including pieces with yellow, green or pink sapphires, citrine, tanzanite and other coloured stones, accounts for 30% of total sales.
"Demand has been steady," Lam says. The remaining 70% is diamond jewellery.
Prices for the company's semiprecious jewellery range from US$80-250 FOB Hong Kong per piece for a pendant to US$700-800 for a necklace. For regular customers, no minimum order applies. New customers must order at least six pieces per style. Delivery is 3-4 weeks after confirmation.
E&V Jewellery (HK) Ltd's latest collection features stunning purple-blue chalcedony and pav?diamonds set in 18K white gold. "We use big, freestyle sizes -- 30mm -- instead of small, calibrated stones," says design director Vivian Chan.
Another recent collection combines pastel-coloured porcelain and glass with diamond accents in 18K white gold.
Known for its contemporary styling and clean, geometric lines, E&V focuses on working women while exporting to Europe (35%), Japan (30%), the US (20%), the Middle East and other markets. "We hope to do more in the US," Chan says.
Half the 3,000 rings, pendants, earrings, brooches and bangles manufactured each month carry the E&V brand. The remainder is OEM and private-label production.
Prices for the chalcedony collection run from US$400-2,500 per piece FOB Hong Kong; the pastel collection is US$300-2,500. The most saleable range for other items is US$250-600. A 200-piece minimum order applies, with delivery 4-6 weeks after confirmation.
At Lo & Rador Int'l, aquamarine is a popular stone. "People look for softer colours, and the price of aquamarine has become a bit cheaper because we can get it from China. Before, it was from Brazil or Africa," says export manager Elaine Leung.
Pink or green tourmaline, blue topaz and amethyst are also top sellers. "We use 2-3 carat sizes in 18K white or yellow gold settings," Leung adds. Rings and pendants are the company's top sellers.
"Our designs are fancy rather than simple. The gold mountings are a bit heavier, and the workmanship is more complicated," she says.
All orders are OEM or private label. Most of the 300-500 pieces of jewellery the company produces monthly are exported to Europe (50-60%), followed by the US (30%) and Japan (10%). The company delivers 2-4 weeks after order confirmation, with no minimum required.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Bangles & Bracelets
MORE than any other type of jewellery, bangles and bracelets offer mobility and exclusive appeal. They slide and swing. They can be demure or alluring. Hong Kong jewellery makers recognize these special charms and add a few new twists when designing for the wrist.
At New Age Gem Jewelry Co Ltd, rhodium-plated, sterling-silver or 18K gold-plated bracelets set with offbeat gems, such as obsidian, ammonite, calcite and rutilated quartz, are specialities. "Many people have become used to amethyst, citrine and moonstone. We want to introduce different kinds of stones," says director Teresa Chan.
The 12-year-old company's simple and trendy designs closely follow fashion trends. Pieces set with calibrated stones are cast. Otherwise, they are handmade. All styles are offered in limited editions.
"We use anywhere from 10-20 pieces per design all the way up to 100-200 pieces," Chan says. Major markets are the US, Asia and Europe. The company sells under its New Age brand and also accepts OEM or private-label orders.
Sales of bracelets, accounting for 20% of the 5,000-8,000 jewellery pieces the company manufactures monthly, have risen 30% in the past year. "Maybe it's because of the stones we use," Chan says. Bracelet prices range from US$20-60 FOB Hong Kong. Other items go for US$3.50 to $60. No minimum order is required. Delivery takes 3-5 weeks after confirmation.
Chinese freshwater pearls set in sterling silver or 14K or 18K white or yellow gold are the star attractions in a bracelet collection from Fung Yuen Jewellery Co, an enterprise established in 1985.
"We use round, potato and rice-shaped pearls," says marketing executive Sophronia Ng. Natural white, orange and purple-coloured pearls are popular, as are irradiated black pearls and pearls dyed pink, green, blue or other colours. "We sell more and more dyed pearls," Ng adds.
Pearls may be combined with semiprecious stones, such as amethyst, citrine, blue topaz, rose quartz, amber and peridot. Diamond accents may be added.
The strongest demand is for fashion-oriented designs, but classic styles account for 30% of sales. Prices range from US$15-35 per piece FOB Hong Kong. A line for younger buyers, featuring pearls and semiprecious stones strung on nylon fishing line or wire, sells for US$1-15 per piece.
Though bracelets represent only 8% of the company's 10,000-piece monthly production, sales are growing. "More young people buy bracelets. They're not that expensive, so people buy several," Ng says.
The US, Europe and Japan are the main export markets. About 90% of orders come from private-label customers. The rest is OEM work. The minimum order is 50 pieces per style, normally delivered 15-20 days after confirmation.
Sterling-silver bracelets set with coloured cubic zirconia, from 21-year-old Hang Fung Jewellery Co Ltd, are popular in the US and Europe.
"Both the design and colours are attractive," says Hang Fung assistant public relations manager Vivian Lai. "The US likes lighter, thinner bracelets. Europeans prefer chunkier styles."
Consistent with the "white look" dominating jewellery trends, white cubic zirconia on sterling silver is in demand.
Customers may also order bracelets in 12K, 14K, 18K or 24K gold. "We can do whatever customers want," Lai says. Private-label and OEM orders are accepted.
Hang Fung produces 20,000 bracelets per month, at US$15-30 per piece FOB Hong Kong, about 4% of its total production. The minimum order is 20 pieces per style, with delivery 4-5 weeks after confirmation.
For Chun Hing Gems & Jewellery Mfy Ltd, classic styles and up-to-the-minute bracelet designs sell equally well. Bracelets with semiprecious stones, such as rose quartz, amethyst, tourmaline and aquamarine, set in sterling silver with white-gold plating, are consistently popular.
"Generally, the stones are 10-20 points in size. We create single colours or multi-coloured looks. But we use only a few stones -- too many aren't good," says sales executive Patricia Shau. Other options include 14K and 18K gold settings.
Priced at HK$320-600 (US$41-77) per piece FOB Hong Kong, the bracelets sell in the US, Taiwan and Japan. Chun Hing requires a 50-piece-per-style minimum order and delivers four weeks after confirmation.
Known for its quartz carvings, the 10-year-old company has its own cutting factory and prides itself on offering one-stop deals. "Buyers can select an unfinished stone, and we cut it for them. Then we design and produce the bracelet. It's a total package from rough to finished product," says Shau.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
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