23 Feb 2004
Jewellery Motifs(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,2004)
Flowers, dragonflies and butterflies are a popular motif for fine items from Carat Jewellery Ltd, which targets the high-end of the jewellery market
Spring comes but once a year, unless you are a Hong Kong jewellery manufacturer who knows that motifs like flowers and butterflies are a perennial favourite with customers of all ages.
Omnia Jewellery director Edmond Lai says every female likes flowers. "They are everlasting and will always have a market," he proclaims. Omnia's target audience is the 30-40 year old woman who likes more elaborate, decorative designs.
"We mostly create our own designs, but, if a client supplies their own design then we will make it for them," says Lai. "Our pieces are not too expensive, either, so items can be worn daily."
FOB Hong Kong prices for earrings are in the US$500-800 price range, while brooches average US$1,000 each and necklaces about US$3,000 each.
A 4,500-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland hand crafts about 3,000 items a month. With a lead time of 3-4 weeks, there is no minimum order requirement.
Lai says the recent global economic downturn spawned a trend for big, colourful designs using less expensive gemstones.
"The centre stone may be big but not so expensive, while the coloured stones are now lower in value."
Omnia, which started in 1990, posts an annual turnover of HK$25m, thanks to clients in main markets like the US (40%) and Japan (30%). The rest splits between Europe and Southeast Asia.
Colour and nature are important themes in Aaron Shum Jewelry Ltd's Gemtique collection "because nature has all kinds of colours", according to sales manager Summer Lam. "We believe 2004 is the year of colour. As well as diamonds, people want coloured gemstones like sapphires and rubies," she adds.
Items in the Gemtique line come priced at US$100-5,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece. A flower ring of white diamonds, pink rhodolite, blue topaz and peridot set in 18-karat white gold costs US$600, while a gemstone and brown diamond pair of rings in the shape of butterflies is US$550 per set. A matching necklace is US$3,800.
Buyers are chain and department stores and TV shopping channels in Japan and the US, catalogue houses and wholesalers. "We produce our own designs and do OEM work, which is about 10% of our business," says Lam.
There is no minimum order requirement, and lead time is four weeks for standard items or six weeks for a tailor-made product. The firm has more than 2,000-3,000 designs on its books, and releases about 30 new styles a month. Production takes place in a 40,000-square-foot factory in Shunde on the mainland.
Flowers, dragonflies and butterflies are also a popular motif for Carat Jewellery Ltd, which targets the high-end market. "Everyone likes flowers and butterflies," confirms marketing manager Fion Wong.
She says her firm's customer profile is the mature woman who likes beautiful designs and can afford to spend a bit more on her jewellery. "Each piece is very detailed - small items like a diamond and crystal flower brooch [US$2,000 FOB Hong Kong] can take one month to make, while bigger items like a yellow diamond dragonfly brooch [US$4,000] can take four months."
About 200 trained workers hand craft designs at a 5,000-square-foot factory in Panyu on the mainland. "Our jewellery is a bit more expensive than other companies, but we invest a lot in design and materials to make better products," says Wong. There is no minimum order requirement.
An in-house design team visits major trade fairs to provide Carat's clientele - wholesalers in the US, Europe, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia - with the latest product trends.
Buyers have been asking for more colourful, semiprecious jewellery. "To have only diamonds is outdated. We will be making combinations of diamonds and semiprecious stones following the trends coming from Europe," confirms Wong, noting that pearls are also popular.
Lorenzo Jewelry Ltd's product development manager Brenda Wong observes, "Nature motifs like flowers are always in fashion because they are very feminine."
Although Lorenzo mainly works in 14- and 18-karat gold and silver items set with coloured gemstones, the company has also seen a rise in demand for colourful and big, but less expensive stones. "If you look at the big names like Cartier and Bvlgari, the prominent trend is colourful semiprecious stones and big sizes," says Wong.
Lorenzo offers its clients a new type of garnet with a vibrant pinkish plum colour, discovered accidentally by a hunter in Brazil in 1997, which it has trademarked under the name of "rosenite".
All designs are in-house creations: the drawings, done in Hong Kong, receive CAD/CAM treatment on the Chinese mainland. Examples include a delicate ring featuring two butterflies in 18-karat white gold set with diamonds, rosenite and amethyst, and an elegant 18-karat white gold necklace set with diamonds, pink tourmaline, tanzanite and blue topaz.
Minimum orders are negotiable, with delivery time 2-6 weeks after order confirmation from an 86,000-square-foot Shenzhen factory. Prices are available on application.
The company employs a mine-to-market strategy to maintain quality control over all aspects of production and distribution. Rough gemstone comes from Brazil, Africa, India and the mainland. Lorenzo's main buyers include TV shopping channels and 27 of the Top 40 jewellery retailers in the US (75%), Japan and Europe.
Traditionally servicing the low to middle market, 2003 saw Lorenzo move into the high-end. "We want to build up the corporate image of Lorenzo as a brand. Since the trend is to open flagship stores, we are opening the first official showroom in Hung Hom [in Hong Kong] at the end of February. We plan to expand into retailing on the mainland and will launch Lorenzo stores in Beijing and Shanghai," reveals Wong.
It seems that it is permanently spring for Hong Kong's makers of fine jewellery motifs.
WRITTEN BY HELEN WONG
Jewellery (Mfg) Ltd
Flat M, 1/F, Phase 3
11 Hok Yuen St
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Unit 1025, Blk B
Focal Ind Centre
21 Man Lok St
Hung Hom, Kowloon
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