1 Sept 2003
Diamonds In The Rough(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,2003)
Diamonds In The Rough
Wing Hang Diamond Co Ltd
Wing Hang Diamond Co Ltd is a leading supplier in both the global diamond wholesale industry and the international South Sea pearl business
A family-owned Hong Kong business has proved it's no "mom 'n' pop" operation by securing a strong foothold in both the global diamond wholesale industry and the international South Sea pearl business.
Wing Hang Diamond Co Ltd has become a leading diamond producer by establishing strong relationships with rough diamond suppliers and expanding into growing markets such as the Chinese mainland's domestic arena.
"Processing roughs is 50-60% of our diamond business, with the remainder polished diamonds from markets such as India and South America," says director of marketing Yvonne Pong.
The company looks largely for 3-8 grainers producing cut diamonds between 0.03 and 0.75 carats - but up to 1.5 carats - with VS clarity or higher. "There is a huge demand in the jewellery industry for items under one carat, especially for pearl and colour stone settings," says Pong. "The greatest demand is for I, J, K and higher colours, but we can source virtually any kind of diamond our customers require."
Supplying mainly round, brilliant cuts, the company also excels in heart-and-arrow brilliant and ideal cuts. "Most of our ideal cuts are above 20 points with good colour and clarity," claims Pong.
Wing Hang is equally adept at producing a full range of fancy shaped diamonds, particularly princess cuts, to satisfy rising demand for fashionable jewellery.
The company also regularly purchases polished diamonds from other countries. "For example, we supply G/H colour with VVS2 or VS purity to the mainland market as this is popular right now," explains Pong.
Wing Hang has obviously flourished since it began operations in 1975 as a small diamond trader with just eight employees: today it has an annual turnover of US$45m, three mainland diamond processing factories in Guangzhou and Guangxi Province, and employs more than 1,500 staff.
They are equipped with the latest laser cutters, computerised bruting and advanced laser scanners to maximise yields from rough diamonds. "Our capabilities also enable us to process roughs on behalf of clients from Belgium, Israel, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan," she says.
Asia and the mainland are currently the company's biggest markets for diamonds, but Wing Hang attends up to 20 international trade fairs a year to help expand its business. "We are known for our strict sorting and our excellent 'Wing Hang Cut', which is particularly flexible for special requirements such as heart, arrow and special cuts for export retailers and manufacturers on the mainland."
The Chinese mainland has gradually become an important market for domestic sales, with the younger Chinese even buying them in silver settings. "In the next 3-5 years, while the US and Europe will be stable markets, our biggest area of growth will definitely be the mainland," Pong predicts. "In time, the domestic mainland market could equal that of the US."
But diamonds were not enough for this enterprising family, which ventured into pearl wholesaling in 1980 and is now a top regional direct-from-farm supplier of South Sea pearls.
Pearls make up 20-25% of Wing Hang's sales and it has developed a worldwide reputation for South Sea pearls, particularly golden. "We employ rigorous quality control, sorting and matching systems," Pong explains. "Our reputation is for producing good matching strands, lots, pairs and sets."
The company's golden pearls come from the Philippines and Indonesia; black from Tahiti; big whites from Australia and small whites from Indonesia. "Our biggest market for pearls is Europe and the US, where the top brands buy our highest quality, particularly the 13-16 golden strands which are very difficult to set."
But tastes vary. "Americans prefer the large, round, white South Seas, whereas Europeans go more for smaller pearls with excellent lustre," notes Pong. "Our commercial pearls usually sell to the Philippines, the Chinese mainland and Thailand."
The trend in pearls is always for something new, exotic and hard to find. "For example, large size uniform golden pearls in 15-inch strands," she says.
This is a tough task as only 25% of South Sea pearls are round and the lustre and purity have to match, but Pong claims Wing Hang can do it. "The secret of our success is providing what the market wants at a price it can afford," Pong concludes.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
Wing Hang Diamond Co Ltd
Lane Crawford House,
64-70A Queen's Road Central,
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