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SPARKLING DIVERSITY (HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,1999)



Vol.2 1999




SPARKLING DIVERSITY
Diamond Jewellery

BETWEEN THE RAILS
Channel-Set Jewellery

LIVING COLOUR
Semiprecious Jewellery

BOLD STATEMENTS
Men's Jewellery

SPARKLING DIVERSITY
Diamond Jewellery

WITH Asian markets hit hard by recession during the past two years, Hong Kong's diamond jewellery manufacturers have had to change course. Concentrating on high quality and strong design, they have diversified to focus on the US market, offering bigger, higher-end items using platinum.

Having previously concentrated on the Asian market, Ultrarich Jewellery Mfr Ltd has weathered the Asian economic storm by switching to the US market, exporting more than 70% of production there, according to sales manager Gilbert Chan. A branch office in the US was opened in 1998 and this has contributed to the sales growth.

Ultrarich specialises in diamond-set 18K gold and platinum jewellery priced from US$300 to US$3,000 FOB Hong Kong.

"We are promoting our new range of larger-sized 18K white gold diamond rings and earrings. Two years ago these types of goods enjoyed strong demand from Asian countries, but since the economic slowdown we have moved to manufacturing smaller, lower-end items. The US market is saturated with these items now and we want to promote something different," says Chan.

Chan sees demand strongest in items priced below US$1,000, using diamonds of H-J colour and VS-SI clarity. "We find it best to sell the pieces temporarily set with cubic zirconia so the customer can see the overall look. Then they can replace the CZ with whatever quality diamonds their customers request," he says.

Minimum order depends on the customer and delivery is within four weeks.

Japan was the major market for Noble Jewelry Ltd, until two years ago, according to manager Tony Tam. Now exports are split equally between Japan, the US and the Middle East, with some sales to Europe. "We have survived the drop in Japanese orders by diversifying our markets and maintaining good relationships with our Japanese buyers," says Tam.

Noble manufactures fine jewellery in platinum and 18K gold, priced from US$250 to US$10,000 FOB Hong Kong, and also what it labels as "classic" items, priced up to US$150,000. More than half of production is of rings, with 80% set with diamonds, according to Tam.

"We concentrate on rings priced at US$1,000 with diamonds of a total weight of less than 1.50 carats," he says.

Noble's business strategy is based on four principles: create beautiful jewellery, price it reasonably, make it good quality and produce it as quickly as possible. "For some of our items priced at US$1,000 our lead-time can be within two weeks," says Tam.

Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Co Ltd manufactures a full range of fine gemset jewellery. Hong Kong remains the manufacturing focus of the company, accounting for 60% of production. The remainder is completed in mainland China. Exports are evenly spread between Europe, Japan, the US and the Middle East, with a small but pleasing increase in orders from Japan recently.

"Our business to Japan has increased by 5-6% this year compared to 1998. Japanese buyers want either our fine quality high-end sets or very small commercial items priced at US$200-300," says manager Kevin Lee.

The company's high-end platinum and 18K white gold diamond jewellery is all manufactured in Hong Kong and the best sellers are priced at US$1,500 and above, according to Lee.

"We try to make something different. Everyone makes floral and ribbon designs because they sell. We try to make them unique by using longer baguettes and bigger diamonds," he says.

The company turns out an average of 20 pieces per design a month. Minimum order is negotiable and delivery takes four weeks.

Sun Tak Hop Jewellery Fty Ltd has bucked the trend for shifting away from selling to Asia, exporting 60% of its jewellery to Taiwan, mainland China and Singapore, according to general manager Mary Tsui.

"We focus on producing new-design jewellery and creating over a hundred new designs each month," she says.

With more than 20 years' experience manufacturing 14K and 18K gold and platinum jewellery, Sun Tak Hop manufactures a few thousand pieces a month at its factory in Hong Kong. Most production follows demand for 18K white gold using VVS-VS clarity and G-I colour diamonds priced at US$300-1,000.

"Manufacturing in Hong Kong means we keep more control on the quality and though our profit margin is less, it is better for our customers," Tsui says.

Minimum order is 30 pieces and delivery can be within one week.

Written by Johnny Edison


BETWEEN THE RAILS
Channel-Set Jewellery

LINEAR or gently curved designs with commercial quality diamonds and coloured stones, often channel-set, are in demand. Channel setting creates linear or ribbon-like patterns with stones set next to each other with no metal in between, in a pair of grooves, or channels in the metal.

Elizabeth Man Gabel, director and main design force at Diamond Dimensions (HK) Ltd, uses channel setting in most of the company's jewellery. "Channel setting produces cleaner, simpler jewellery. I feel channel-set jewellery is more complete than prong set -- the prongs seem to get in the way," she says.

Diamond Dimensions manufactures diamond wedding sets, often in platinum mixed with 18K yellow gold. All of the company's monthly production of 4,000 pieces is exported to the US from its factory in Hong Kong.

Rings are best sellers with a straight, clean look featuring 3-5 diamonds and priced at US$200-300 FOB Hong Kong. A new collection of rings patented in the US with the name Dimension Lock is selling well. It features rings with a lock mechanism.

The quality of diamonds used has dropped since Gabel started the business, in response to customer demand for better value products. "Before I used to use VS clarity stones. Now they're SI and sometimes I clarity and colours in the H-I range," says Gabel.

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

Jade Rich Jewellery Ltd, established in 1983, manufactures fine jewellery in 18K gold and platinum with jade, precious gemstones and diamonds, according to sales manager Andrew Au-Yeung.

More than 50% of the firm's monthly production of about 1,500 pieces is for export to the US. In demand are PT900 rings set with diamonds at price points of US$300-600.

"We mainly make semi-mounted rings using less than a carat total weight of round and fancy-shape diamonds of I colour and VS-SI clarity," says Au-Yeung. Design is integral to Jade Rich's business and is something the company concentrates on. "We need to talk with the customer. Feedback and communication is very important in the production chain," Au-Yeung says.

The company makes its jewellery in a 20-worker facility in Hong Kong, but is starting to use factories in mainland China for lower-end items priced below US$200.

Minimum order is generally 10 pieces but is negotiable depending on design. Delivery should be within a month.

Kings Mark Designer and Mfy Ltd, founded in 1980, opened a factory in Shenzhen, mainland China, in 1997 and manufactures 1,000 items per style each month. Rings and earrings priced at US$100-500 dominate production, mostly in 18K white or yellow gold.

"We specialise in our design ideas and we constantly need to educate the customer. At the moment they like white gold, especially our customers in the US. Next year I think we will do more lines in pink gold," says manager Olivia Ma.

Hot items for Kings Mark are a range of 18K gold pins channel-set with amethyst, citrine, peridot, blue topaz, garnet and diamonds. All coloured gemstones are calibrated machine-cut and prices for all collections range from US$220-300.

"We launched these pins at the Basel show in April and received orders from the US and Germany. Taller ladies seem to like to wear two of them parallel to each other. They are casual items that create a smart look," she says.

Minimum order for Kings Mark is 50 pieces and delivery is within four weeks.

Specialising in different types of fine jewellery, all 100% hand-made, ISE Jewellery Co Ltd has been in business since 1991. "We mainly manufacture 18K yellow and white gold items set with black and white South Sea pearls and diamonds," says sales manager KM Ko.

Best selling products are in the US$2,000-3,000 price range. "About 70% of our jewellery is set with South Sea pearls and, of this, 60% are white and 40% black pearls from Tahiti," says Ko.

The company has had to work hard during the past few years to maintain its strong reputation for design and quality, because sales to its major market, Japan, slumped along with the economy.

All jewellery is manufactured in Hong Kong at the rate of 200 pieces a month. Minimum order depends on the items and delivery is within three weeks.

Written by Johnny Edison


LIVING COLOUR
Semiprecious Jewellery

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JEWELLERY set with semiprecious stones has an enthusiastic and loyal following of consumers who appreciate the affordable prices and variety of choice that coloured gemstones provide.

Recognising the demand, Hong Kong's jewellery manufacturers have earned a solid reputation for taking coloured stone jewellery to new heights.

Blue topaz, amethyst and citrine cut in free-form shapes give a distinctive look to the collections from DWL Creations Ltd. Set in 18K yellow, white or yellow-and-white gold, the centre stones can be an eye-catching 10 carats in size. The use of diamond accents, usually 1-5 points weighing a total of 50 points, adds extra sparkle.

DWL Creations is known for its single-colour rather than multicoloured design sensibility. "Single-colour jewellery shows off the colour of the stone best. It's the most popular for us," says sales manager Ricky Pun.

The company's "executive look" European styles bridge the day-time/evening divide. Rings typically sell best, but the company produces a full line of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pendants. All are cast and prices range from US$300 to US$800 FOB Hong Kong per piece. Main markets are the US and Europe. A new, more upmarket collection featuring more diamonds will be offered at US$800-1,500 per piece, Pun says.

No minimum order is required and goods are shipped four weeks after order confirmation.

Style Lapidary Co Ltd's diverse collection of opaque to transparent gemstones includes Burmese jade, azurite malachite, aquamarine, tourmaline and amethyst set in sterling silver.

The company's European-style necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets are cast and sell for US$100-400 FOB Hong Kong each. Styles run the gamut from dressy to casual.

"We use stones as large as 20 carats and do a lot of irregular, or free-form cuts," says managing director Flora Cheng. Popular gemstone combinations recently have been tourmaline and pearls, or tourmaline and aquamarine.

The seven-year-old firm turns out 10,000 pieces per month at its factory in mainland China and exports mainly to Europe. "We are selling a bit in the US, but would like to do more," Cheng says.

Minimum order is 50 pieces and delivery takes 50 days after order confirmation.

Known for its precious and semiprecious stones as well as boulder opal jewellery, Pointers Gemcraft & Jewellery Mfy offers items set with lapis lazuli, azurite malachite, sugilite, amethyst, citrine and aquamarine.

"We specialise in small stone carvings for jewellery," says company president Ngai Wing-kwai.

Centre stones average 30 carats in size, but can go up to 300 carats for an especially dramatic statement. About 70% of the company's jewellery is handmade and the rest cast. Sterling silver items sell for US$3-100 FOB Hong Kong per piece, and 14K or 18K gold for US$10-300.

Pointers Gemcraft, set up in 1975, sells under its own WK brand name, with Europe and the US its prime export markets, and also accepts OEM orders. For stock on hand, no minimum order is required. "But if someone wants custom-made pieces, we have a US$1,000 minimum," Ngai says. Delivery takes 2-6 weeks after order confirmation.

The bright hues of citrine and blue topaz top the list of coloured gemstones at Lo & Rador Int'l. "We get a lot of customers from Europe who like blue topaz. Yellow [citrine] is a favourite in the US as well as in Europe," says export manager Elaine Leung. Pink tourmaline is also gaining in popularity.

Rings and bracelets in 18K yellow or white gold, with 50-point to 3-carat centre stones framed by an assortment of 0.5-3-point diamonds priced from US$120 to US$2,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece are the best sellers. Necklaces can go up to US$8,000.

Simpler styles with channel-set rectangular or square-cut stones are the newest trend, says Leung. "We also do a lot of rainbow-coloured pieces," she adds. Bracelets, in particular, do well with the rainbow look.

The company, established in 1968, turns out 300-500 pieces of cast jewellery per month. Minimum order is 20 pieces and delivery usually takes 2-4 weeks after order confirmation, and up to three months for large orders.

Leung says the firm, which also sells to Japan, is eyeing South America as a potential new market.

Written by Andrea Pawlyna


BOLD STATEMENTS
Men's Jewellery

MEN'S jewellery is gradually evolving beyond its traditional confines with a greater variety of styles and gemstones to choose from. Hong Kong manufacturers are playing their part in this ongoing process by making use of more innovative designs and materials.

Men's sterling silver rings set with citrine are a favourite item at Amethyst Kingdom Co Ltd, set up in 1994. "People in Asia believe that yellow brings good luck because it's an Imperial colour," says director Ricky Lau.

Rings and pendants are its best- selling men's jewellery items and the target markets are Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and mainland China.

Also available is 18K gold jewellery, with rhodium plating for a white look, along with a choice of semiprecious stones, including amethyst, blue topaz, garnet, aquamarine, peridot and citrine.

Prices run from US$4 to US$30 FOB Hong Kong per piece for gemset sterling silver jewellery, and US$50-100 for 18K gold.

Lau says men's jewellery typically contains a single 10-12-carat centre stone and that larger, casual styles are preferred. Most customers ask for settings with a smooth, shiny finish.

One of the latest trends in men's jewellery is square-cut gemstones. "Last year, the shape was mostly oval," Lau says.

Minimum order is 100 pieces, with delivery in 3-4 weeks.

Dressy ring, cuff-link and tie-bar sets in 14K and 18K yellow or white gold account for the bulk of Artistic Jewellery Ltd's men's jewellery sales.

The featured centre stones are 10-40-point diamonds, G-H colour and VS clarity, accented by onyx or a sprinkling of smaller diamonds on the sides.

"It used to be that we used two-point diamonds as accents. But now the demand is for bigger stones -- 9 to 10-pointers," says marketing manager Stanley Chiu.

Men's jewellery represents about 30% of sales at the firm, which was set up in 1976. "Big, geometric looks are in style, with matt and shiny finishes equally popular," Chiu says.

Prices range from US$150 to US$500 FOB Hong Kong per piece.

Besides sets, the company produces diamond or onyx tuxedo buttons.

Most of the 3,000 pieces of Artistic Jewellery's total monthly production are cast, but about 20% are handmade. Main markets are the US, Japan and Europe.

Minimum order is 10 pieces, with delivery 3-5 weeks after order confirmation.

Dazzling diamond buckles in 18K white, yellow, yellow-and-white gold or platinum 900 are the featured men's items at Jade Peace Ltd, established in 1985.

"Sometimes we also add precious stones; men seem to like blue sapphires best," says executive director Ida Fu.

Each buckle contains 20-100 stones, with the total weight ranging from 30 points to more than one carat. Round, taper, baguette and square cuts are generally the rule for diamonds; cabochons for precious stones.

The 20 designs in the collection are simple enough so that the buckles can be worn as everyday jewellery with casual clothes. They sell for US$300-1,200 FOB Hong Kong per piece.

The company also sells men's cuff-links, tie-pins and rings. Prices for the full men's jewellery collection range from US$300 to US$1,500 per piece.

Men's jewellery accounts for about 20% of total jewellery sales. Main markets are the US, Japan and Southeast Asia. Minimum order is three pieces, with delivery four weeks after order confirmation.

A new entrant to the field of men's jewellery is Peershine Jewellery HK Ltd, which recently introduced its first men's line. An opal jewellery specialist, the company manufactures opal and diamond rings in 14K or 18K white or yellow gold, or platinum 900 at prices ranging from US$300 to US$500 FOB Hong Kong per piece.

The rings are set with natural white opals in sizes ranging from 70 points (6x8mm) to two carats (10x14mm). Each piece also contains up to 20 diamonds in 2-5-point sizes. "Some are quite dressy and have complicated designs. It's a European look for mature buyers," says sales manager Feric Yu.

The company creates its own designs and also accepts OEM orders. No minimum order applies, Yu says. Delivery takes four weeks after order confirmation.

Kwong's Art Jewellery Trading Co Ltd has recently taken the plunge into the men's jewellery market. The company, established in 1983, manufactures 18K white gold diamond-and-sapphire cuff-links and diamond tie-clips, says marketing executive Penniff Tso.

The cuff-links sport two-carat sapphires as the centre stone framed by 10-20-point diamonds. Smaller, 5-10-point diamonds are featured in the tie-clips. The 12 cuff-links in the range sell for US$400 to US$600 FOB Hong Kong per piece; the 20 designs of tie-clip range from US$200 to US$300.

"The designs are trendy and fashionable, more European. We're selling in the US now and plan to do so in Europe. If the response is good, we'll add rings and other accessories," Tso says.

Each of the 100 pieces of men's jewellery made per month is handmade. There is no minimum order and delivery takes four weeks after order confirmation.

Written by Andrea Pawlyna

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