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PRECIOUS COLOURS (HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,1999)



Vol.1 1999






PRECIOUS COLOURS
Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald

OCEANS APART
Pearls

GOLDEN ATTRACTION
Gold Jewellery

CAPTURE THE SPIRIT
Bangles & Bracelets

IN A MODERN SETTING
Rings & Earrings

PRECIOUS COLOURS
Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald

FROM time immemorial, mankind has lusted after the rich hues of precious stones. The red, blue and green of ruby, sapphire and emerald capture the largest segment of the coloured stone jewellery market, and customers treat jewellery with these stones as their most valuable possessions.

Part of this attraction is because precious stones, with their wealth of tradition and history, retain their value better than other gemstones.

“Seventy percent of our customers want their jewellery to hold its value, so jewellery with precious gemstones sell better than anything else, especially in Japan,” says Richard Wong, director of Richard Jewelry Co Ltd.

Established in 1995, Richard Jewelry specialises in producing high-end 18K gold and platinum jewellery priced at US$500-10,000 FOB Hong Kong. Rings in 18K white gold set with rubies and sapphires, priced at US$1,100 are the best sellers, according to Wong. Japanese customers tend to prefer white gold while customers in the US and Europe demand yellow or two-tone gold items.

“Demand has dropped in terms of price in the past year. Before, people would order US$2,000-3,000 pieces, whereas now they want jewellery for US$800-900,” says Wong. Japan accounts for 40% of Richard Jewelry’s exports and, despite the tough economy, orders were stable last year.

All manufacturing is done in Hong Kong because its craftsmanship is world-class, according to Wong. He sees demand trends moving towards items with a brighter look with more colour. Richard Jewelry will respond with more designs featuring stones such as yellow sapphire in 1999.

Minimum order is US$5,000 and delivery takes 3-6 weeks.

Also well-known as a high-end manufacturer, a market segment where reputation is paramount, is Universal Jewellery Design Centre Ltd, which has been in business since 1948.

The firm offers pieces priced from US$200 to US$1m, and exports worldwide. According to director Kenneth Kwan, price points have dropped in the past two years among major fine jewellery consuming nations, such as Japan. “Our main competition is from the current business situation, which is not healthy. Our best-selling products are priced around US$1,000 now, lower than before,” Kwan says.

There is no minimum order and delivery is within eight weeks.

Gold Mine Jewellery Ltd plans to respond to demand by manufacturing pieces in the US$1,000 range this year.

“More people are willing to buy jewellery in this price bracket. The first attraction is the design and we are strong in that,” says chief executive Vivian Chang.

This move will be welcomed by Gold Mine’s customers, mainly in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Gold Mine’s fine 18K and platinum jewellery has been selling best in the US$3,000 range. All production takes place in a 4,000-square-foot facility in Hong Kong manned by 25 skilled craftsmen.

“Our customers are asking for lower-priced items. They want simple, modern designs in 18K white gold and platinum,” says Chang. But jewellery lovers can always be tempted and rings in the US$10,000-15,000 range, especially antique and floral designs, can lead to successful sales.

“The quality of our gemstones is very important. We check everything and give our customers the best service we can. We have to make them feel comfortable,” she says.

With a history dating back to 1955, Denis Hazell Int’l Ltd, is well known throughout the industry for 18K and platinum gemset fine jewellery.

Sales to the US have increased by up to 15% in the past year, and account for 60% of business. “Last year at the JA Jewelry Show in New York, I sold 10 important necklaces in the first morning of the show,” says manager Henry Wong.

Best selling is 18K white gold jewellery, such as rings, priced at US$300-400, and necklaces at US$1,500-2,000. According to Wong, Denis Hazell’s main advantage is the high level of craftsmanship. “All our workers are very skilled and very experienced. This is essential for our business,” he says.

There is no minimum order and delivery takes two weeks.

Continental Jewellery (Mfg) Ltd, one of Hong Kong’s largest manufacturers, produces commercial-priced jewellery in the US$50-3,000 range. Best-selling coloured stone jewellery is still 18K white gold, but price points are much lower at US$100-500.

Business in 1998 was stable, according to Joe Lee, vice-president — merchandising, and the company was unaffected by the Asian economic crisis because most of its Asian exports are to Japan and Australia. Major markets are the US and Europe.

All of Continental’s production is at its two factories on the mainland.

“The more difficult items that require more skill and that we need to watch more closely are manufactured in Guangzhou [on the mainland]. We can control the quality better there,” says Lee.

Minimum order is three pieces per style and delivery takes 3-4 weeks.

Written by Johnnyt Edison


OCEANS APART
Pearls

A PEARL’S organic origins confer upon it a quality unmatched by almost any other gem. These gifts from the sea are riding a new wave of popularity and Hong Kong companies are responding with a lively array of pearl jewellery.

Kin Chong Gems & Jewellery Fty Ltd specialises in jewellery set with 8-9.5mm medium- to top-quality Japanese Akoya pearls. According to export manager Laura Tang, 14K or 18K white gold earrings featuring Akoya pearls and diamonds sell best.

With the US as the main market, the company’s jewellery tends to be larger-sized in line with tastes there. Prices are under US$2,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece. Strands range from US$800 to US$1,500.

Kin Chong produces about 2,000 pieces of pearl jewellery per month, mainly cast, at its Hong Kong factory. All pieces are stamped with the firm’s KCJ brand name. Loose South Sea pearls, mostly in the 12-14mm range, and a small amount of antique-style South Sea pearl jewellery, are also offered. “The loose pearls are not over US$500 per piece,” Tang says.

Minimum order is six pieces per design and deliv-ery takes 2-3 weeks after order confirmation.

South Sea pearl earrings and pins in smart, casual styles are Maxim Jewellery Co’s most saleable items, says manager Joseph Wai. Pieces generally feature 10-16mm pearls and diamonds set in 18K white gold, some in platinum 900.

Popular is a pearl and diamond bumble-bee pin priced at US$650 FOB Hong Kong. A multi-strand South Sea pearl and diamond choker, priced at US$1,800, sells well in the US and Europe. Diamonds range from a few points to 25 points in size.

Established in 1972, Maxim turns out 200-300 pieces of semicast, hand-assembled South Sea pearl jewellery per month at prices from US$500 to US$10,000 per piece. Minimum order value is US$3,000, with delivery taking 3-4 weeks after order confirmation.

Pearl jewellery set with South Sea pearls, black Tahitian pearls, Japanese Akoyas and Chinese freshwater pearls are among the broad range offered by Sunny Creations Ltd.

Most of the 500-600 pearl jewellery pieces manufactured each month are cast. “We use good quality pearls and make jewellery in simple, classic designs. People used to look for flashy things, but now they want something simple. The global trend is for a younger, more casual look for daywear,” says director Sunny Chan.

Chinese freshwater or Akoya pearl jewellery sells for US$100-250 FOB Hong Kong per piece, while items with 10-11mm black Tahitian or South Sea pearls are priced at US$600-1,000. The company’s best-selling piece is an 18K white gold ring with a single South Sea pearl framed by pave diamonds. It sells for US$600.

While the trend leans towards 18K white gold, Chan thinks a “brighter” two-tone yellow and white gold look could gain ground this year.

No minimum order is required for South Sea pearl jewellery, while a 10-piece minimum applies for freshwater and Akoya items. Delivery takes 6-8 weeks.

Wing Cheong Jewellery & Jade (Mfy) Co Ltd offers strands and jewellery set with 10-14mm white and golden South Sea pearls, 10-14mm black Tahitian pearls and 5-9mm Japanese Akoyas.

Youthful, fashion-oriented jewellery designs are typically mounted in 18K white gold, with some platinum 900 pieces also made. Pearls are mainly set with 1-10-point diamonds.

Most pieces are cast, except for complicated designs, which need to be handmade. All production is carried out in mainland China. The price range is HK$500-100,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece, with South Sea pearl pieces commanding the highest prices.

Akoya pearl strands are priced from HK$1,000 to HK$30,000, while loose South Sea pearls start at HK$2,500 each.

The company requires a minimum order of five pieces per style for jewellery, none for strands or loose pearls. Delivery takes three weeks after order confirmation.

South China shell pearls — made from shell nuclei and a chemical pearl powder liquid — and Japanese, Australian and Tahitian cultured mabe pearls are the main pearl products from Sanwa Pearl Trading Ltd.

Loose 5-20mm mabe pearls sell for US$6-100 FOB Hong Kong each. The most saleable are priced at about US$20. South China shell pearls sell for US$2-150 per strand and US$0.20 to US$50 each. Sizes range from two to 20mm.

Earrings and pendants with mabe pearls in sterling silver, 14K or 18K gold sell for US$20-500 per piece/pair. South China shell pearl jewellery mounted in gold-plated metal, sterling silver or 14K gold is priced from US$0.50 to US$200 FOB per piece/pair.

Minimum order value is US$1,000, with discounts for larger orders, while delivery takes 7-56 days.

Written by Andrea Pawlyna


GOLDEN ATTRACTION
Gold Jewellery

PURE gold jewellery, 24K, is soft and malleable, which limits its use as a jewellery metal set with gemstones, but increases its use as a form of investment. Prices of 24K gold jewellery fluctuate with the prevailing gold prices, and 1998 saw prices at their lowest level in five years, boosting demand.

Listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, Tse Sui Luen Jewellery Co Ltd has been a major player in the industry since 1971. Known for its 24K gold production, the company manufactures more than 30kg of its 2,000 models of pure gold jewellery per month and sells through its stores in Hong Kong and the region. Exports account for about 10% of total production.

According to export director Ken Wong, the best-selling price range is US$100-250. “Export demand is for contemporary European designs with more curves, a big look and a light weight," says Wong. These rounded lightweight items are achievable only with electroforming, a production technique involving a thin layer of gold covered over a wax mould, which is then melted away to form the piece.

“Our strength in electroforming and our concentration on other technological advances, such as CAD/CAM equipment to make wax moulds, mean we can make more complex and interesting designs," says Wong.

Surface finishing is another area in which Tse Sui Luen is working hard on research and development. “We lead the industry with features like new textures. We have a new texture we call Cashmere, which has a more shiny look and an appearance similar to the famous soft wool," Wong says.

Tse Sui Luen, according to Wong, creates a wide range of designs through its network of designers. “We always try to keep in touch with the customer," he says.

Involved in the jewellery business since 1929, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co Ltd is one of Hong Kong's oldest and most established companies. This tradition is reflected in the company's average retail customers, who are about 40 years old and seek more traditional designs.

“The traditional Chinese gold style with flowers and Chinese characters signifying health and prosperity is the most sellable. These products account for about 70% of our sales and the best-selling price is US$130," says senior manager of administration Kent Wong.

Chow Tai Fook makes two kinds of 24K gold jewellery, electroformed and handmade, with 20% of total production made by hand. “Electroformed jewellery now has a big market which is always increasing, so we have to try to keep up with the competition. But it is very common now — the technique is even available in [mainland] China. We feel there is still a market for traditional handcrafted pieces, the kind our customers prefer. The problem is finding the workers with the required high skill levels," says Wong.

He says 30% of production is of modern Italian-style designs. “We have to consider that 40% of our customers in our 20 stores in Hong Kong are from [mainland] China and they prefer traditional designs."

The lowest gold price in years helps business, with prices of jewellery directly linked to the daily fluctuating international gold price. But sales of pure gold jewellery dropped by 40% last year. Wong says that business will not be as bad this year, but the company will change its policy to adjust and chase more sales.

“Firstly, we will make more jewellery with more fashionable, modern designs. We will also pay more attention to our costs and keep them as low as possible. Finally we will make pieces of lighter weight, thus reducing the overall cost," he says.

Royal Arts was founded in 1965 as a manufacturer of gold coin jewellery, using 22K and 24K gold coins, both modern and antique. The company is unique in Hong Kong and has established a solid reputation in its major market, the US.

“Customers in the US like more fashionable jewellery with a big look," says managing director Hudson Lee. Coin jewellery fits these requirements because the coins are sometimes as big as 40mm in diameter.

Best-selling are US$250 pendants featuring 1/10-ounce coins from different countries. Lee expects business to continue to be tough next year, and says that competition is from other products, not other companies manufacturing similar jewellery.

Just Gold Co Ltd is the revolutionary newcomer on the pure gold jewellery scene. Founded in 1991, the company's modern, fashionable designs have helped change the way people buy jewellery. With advertising campaigns using famous socialites and designers, the company attracts a younger generation of gold buyers.

“We manufacture 24K gold jewellery priced from US$100 to US$1,300. Best sellers are pendants and rings with floral and geometrical designs priced at US$200," says advertising and promotion manager Monica Yeung,

Very little of Just Gold's production is electroformed, according to Yeung, because the company specialises in craftsmanship and handmade items.

Written by Johnny Edison


CAPTURE THE SPIRIT
Bangles & Bracelets

THE charms of these light-hearted jewellery essentials have not gone unnoticed by Hong Kong’s jewellery manufacturers, who have captured their playful spirit in versatile, saleable designs.

Classic and casual styles of 14K and 18K white, yellow or rose-coloured gold bangles and bracelets set with diamonds are a hallmark of Henry Jewellery Mfr Co, established in 1986. Platinum 900 is available on request.

Diamonds up to a total weight of five carats are used, occasionally complemented by coloured gemstones and pearls, says company owner Henry Lam. Both hollow and semi-solid bangles are produced in a 300-worker facility in mainland China.

The most saleable are priced from US$100 to US$1,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece, although prices can go as high as US$20,000. The company is also planning a collection of thinner gold bangles with smaller stones, for the younger set.

Bangles and bracelets account for 20% of production, or about 3,500 pieces per month. The company sells primarily to the US, Europe and the Middle East. There is no minimum order and delivery takes 30 days after order confirmation.

Diamonds in a variety of sizes grace 18K white gold bracelets from Aaron Shum Jewelry Ltd. “We have a range of bracelets with total diamond weights of 50 points to five carats,” says managing director Thomas Ho.

The company, established in 1985, manufactures about 10,000 pieces per month, with bracelets representing about 15% of output. Prices range from US$200 to US$2,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece. Designs tend to be on the dressy side, but the company plans to introduce a sportier, more youthful line later this year priced at US$200-400.

Most of the company’s exports go to the US and Europe. However, Ho says the firm wants to develop more of a market in the Middle East and South America. Minimum order value is US$5,000 and delivery takes two weeks after order confirmation.

For Glorious Jewelry Ltd, the best-selling pieces are 18K white or yellow gold bracelets with diamonds 1-5 points in size, priced from US$180 to US$280 FOB Hong Kong each. “These are fashion-oriented products for young people,” says company president Julianna Ho.

For the more mature market, Glorious sells casual and dressy 18K gold bracelets with diamonds and precious stones priced up to US$3,000 per piece. “The diamonds and stones are heavier, from two to 25 points,” Ho says. Designs are both delicate and intricate.

The company, set up in 1991, turns out 200 bracelets per month from its factory on the mainland, about 15% of total jewellery output. Most are cast.

Europe, Taiwan and Japan are the main markets. The company has also begun increasing its sales in the Middle East. Minimum order is three pieces per style with delivery taking one month after order confirmation.

Bold colours are an important feature of E&V Jewellery (HK) Ltd’s 18K white or yellow gold bangles and bracelets. The company uses reconstructed crystal in different colours to achieve striking effects.

Its Crusade line of reversible bangles gives each piece two different looks. Various cuts of semiprecious stones are set in reconstructed coloured crystal or reconstructed semiprecious stone bases, with each side sporting a different base and line-up of gems. Other bracelets in flower, heart, star, square and round shapes are set with semiprecious stones in reconstructed coloured crystal or reconstructed semiprecious stone bases.

The company makes 2,000-4,000 pieces of jewellery per month, about one-third of which are bangles and bracelets. Prices range from US$600 to US$1,500 FOB Hong Kong per piece. “Our bangles tend to be chunky and the bracelets are more delicate,” says company director Vivian Chan.

Minimum order is 20 pieces per style and delivery takes 4-6 weeks after order confirmation.

World Flower Jewellery Ltd, established in 1991, makes 18K white and yellow gold American-style diamond bracelets. “We make both modern and antique designs with lots of stones,” says sales executive James Wong. The firm typically uses 40-50 diamonds in 1-20-point sizes. Occasionally, diamonds are mixed with precious or semiprecious stones.

The company manufactures 300 bangles and bracelets per month, most of them cast, about 20% of total output. Prices range from US$100 to US$500 FOB Hong Kong per piece.

“Our bracelets and bangles are popular because our prices are about 10% lower than last year. By buying diamonds directly from supplying countries and producing in [mainland] China, we have been able to reduce prices,” Wong says. There is no minimum order and delivery takes 2-3 weeks after order confirmation.

Written by Andrea Pawlyna


IN A MODERN SETTING
Rings & Earrings

RINGS and earrings are consistently the most saleable items in any jewellery store. Earrings are a part of every jewellery collection, while after purchasing one ring a buyer still has seven other fingers and two thumbs to adorn.

As a predominantly fashion item, trends are integral to what jewellery sells best. White gold continues to be the hot item for rings and earrings, in line with fashionable neutral tones.

Omnia Jewellery has been exporting fine jewellery for 10 years and 18K white gold accounts for 80% of total production. “Our best-selling rings and earrings feature diamonds set in 18K white gold,” says director Edmond Lai. Best selling are items in the US$600-700 FOB Hong Kong range, incorporating melée-sized diamonds of H-I colour, VS-SI clarity, with a total weight of under one carat, according to Lai.

“Our customers seem to be tired of the antique designs previously popular. Demand has changed to more modern pieces with pavé and prong settings, using lower-quality diamonds, but the colour required is still H-I,” says Lai. He notes increasing demand for designs with fancy shaped diamonds.

Omnia’s major markets are the US, which grew steadily last year, and Europe with strong demand in the last half of 1998. European customers demand more detailed designs, something Omnia is happy to supply.

“Our advantage is our catalogue of designs, which we feel are unique. We are a small company so can concentrate more on design,” Lai says.

There is no minimum order and delivery is within 30 days.

Aurostyle Ltd differs from many Hong Kong manufacturers in that it has production facilities in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, with 650 workers. Opened in 1994, the factory produces jewellery priced from US$10 to US$1,000. Monthly production is about 40,000 pieces, 90% of which are rings and earrings.

Europe accounts for 50% of orders and Aurostyle’s designs are geared towards that market, according to sales and marketing manager Dora Sit. “We are very strong in design and in developing tailor-made product lines. Half of our designers studied in the UK,” says Sit.

Minimum order is arranged on a case-by-case basis and delivery takes 5-6 weeks.

Not every buyer insists on diamond jewellery, and Designlink Jewellery (Mfg) Ltd benefits from the 30 years of experience its parent company has in opal-cutting. The jewellery manufacturing arm was established in 1990. Rings and earrings account for 80% of output.

Prices for the company’s 14K and 18K gold jewellery range from US$150 to US$500. The most saleable items are white opal inlaid rings priced at US$250, according to manager Simon Auyeung. “We use the finest opals and employ the best craftsmen to fashion high-quality designs,” he says.

Exports are split evenly between the US, Japan, Australia and Europe. Minimum order is six pieces per style and delivery time is within one month.

At Universe Gems & Jewellery Co, half of the designs use transparent semiprecious gemstones and the remainder use opaque materials, such as malachite, lapis lazuli and black onyx.

Established in 1976, Universe has an inventory of 3,000 designs and prides itself on a fast turnover of new models. Silver items priced at US$50-80 and 14K gold items priced at US$150-250 sell best.

Of the 6,000 pieces manufactured each month, 70% are rings and earrings, according to director Hui Sau-ying.

“Our European customers require new designs regularly and the goods have to have more variety. From the US, our major market, orders are for lower-priced items but in much bigger quantities, especially from mail-order distributors,” says Hui.

Trial orders are welcome and delivery time is within four weeks.

Written by Johnny Edison

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