3 March 2005
Pearl Sets(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,2005)
Gifts From The Sea
Hong Kong's pearl jewellery manufacturers also appreciate this strong allure and create exciting and enticing fashion jewellery that draws on the full palette of pearls - from Tahitian to South Sea and akoya to freshwater.
Pearl jewellery sets have been increasingly sought-after by International Pearl Co customers in the past few years. "The most popular are three-piece sets - necklace, earrings and rings," says director Amy Li. "Sets help encourage people to buy more than one piece."
The 11-year-old company's pearl varieties include akoya, Tahitian and Chinese freshwater, with the most popular sizes from 6-9mm. "Natural colours are popular with Chinese freshwater pearls," Li explains. "We only have white for Chinese and Japanese akoyas, and black for Tahitian."
International Pearl usually combines pearls with diamonds in 8K, 10K, 14K or 18K gold settings, although precious or semiprecious stones are sometimes used. A pearl-and-diamond necklace is priced in the US$200-1,000 FOB Hong Kong mid-range, while a ring costs US$40-200. "The price differences are due to the use of lighter-weight gold or smaller diamonds," Li explains. Major export markets for minimum orders - six pieces per style delivered 2-3 weeks depending on quantity - include the US, Canada and Europe.
International Pearl, which produces 10,000 pieces of jewellery per month, hopes to increase the number of handmade items from the current 5% to 20% this year. "With baroque pearls, you really can't do casting," Li observes. "We want to give consumers more choices in designs."
Equally unsurprised about the popularity of pearl sets is Yue San Jewellery Co Ltd general manager Cissy Wong. "When people buy pearl jewellery, they prefer one-stop shopping," she maintains. "If you buy a set of pearl jewellery, you can match the pearls better than if you buy a single piece."
Two- or three-piece sets represent about 20% of the 600-1,000 items of pearl jewellery Yue San produces monthly. The company uses good quality Chinese akoyas and Chinese freshwater pearls, typically in 5-7mm sizes, and sprinkles diamonds onto 18K white gold settings. "We have white and natural colours for the freshwater pearls, and white, natural yellow and dyed black for the akoyas," Wong explains.
FOB Hong Kong prices range from US$300-1,000 per piece, with exports targeting the US, Japan and Europe. Wong adds that no minimum order quantity applies and shipments for simple styles or products in stock go out four weeks after order confirmation; six weeks for more complicated orders.
Smaller pearls in 5mm sizes are a specialty of Wingking Jewellery Ltd, which concentrates on Chinese freshwater and Japanese akoya pearls. The company manufactures about 3,000-5,000 pieces of pearl jewellery set in 14K or 18K gold per month, approximately half of which are pearl sets.
Most of Wingking's pieces are meant for daytime use, although some are dressy enough for eveningwear. "Two-piece earring and pendant sets and three-piece ring, earring and pendant sets sell the best," claims director Fanny Chiu. "We use diamonds and good quality pearls and export our products mainly to the US and Europe."
Wingking's items sell for US$30 FOB Hong Kong for a pendant to US$1,000 for a necklace for minimum orders of six pieces per style delivered in 3-4 weeks.
Women over 30 years of age are Wingking's main market, but the company is developing a new line for women in their 20s. "We're going to use more semiprecious stones instead of diamonds," adds Chiu, noting that the top price in the new line is pegged at US$400. "We are also looking into larger pearls, such as 10-13mm Tahitian pearls, because of growing customer demand."
Pearl jewellery accounts for an overwhelming 90% of the 500 pieces that Rio Pearl manufactures each month at its factories in Hong Kong and Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland. Established in 1983, the OEM and private label company produces both cast and handmade jewellery.
"Pearls and diamonds go well together and are always popular," enthuses manager Regina Yeung, explaining that Rio Pearl emphasises simple, classic styles that last. "Occasionally, we might use coloured gemstones with pearls, like tourmaline, jade or sapphires."
The 22-year-old company carries a selection of Tahitian, white and golden South Sea, akoya and Chinese freshwater pearls that it fashions into styles that are ideal for casual occasions or in the office.
Rio Pearl's jewellery is priced from US$190-900 per piece FOB Hong Kong, though a less expensive line for 18-25 year olds sells for US$38-128 per piece. "The lower-priced line is very big in the US," adds Yeung. "We use Chinese freshwater pearls mixed with tourmaline, set in 14K yellow or white gold."
Rio Pearl, which also exports to Europe, the mainland and the Middle East, requires minimum orders of 10-15 pieces per style delivered four weeks after order confirmation.
Which just goes to show that when it comes to variety and versatility in pearl jewellery, nobody meets the needs of women worldwide better than Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers.
WRITTEN BY FRANCIS SMITH
International Pearl Co
Wingking Jewellery Ltd