1 Sept 2006
Sapphire Jewellery(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,2006)
|This fabulous European-style sapphire and diamond necklace, earring and ring set from Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Ltd features oval-cut Ceylon sapphires with baguette and round diamonds set in 18K white gold|
Fabled as a symbol of the heavens, the blue sapphire ranks among the most desired of gemstones. From pastel-coloured and cornflower to nearly opaque royal blue, sapphire's many shades have been coveted through the ages.
Blue sapphires are often paired with diamonds to bring out their beauty. Hong Kong Universal Jewellery Ltd continues that tradition with magnificent sets of handmade sapphire-and-diamond jewellery. The OEM/ODM firm specialises in high-end gemset jewellery with diamonds and diamond jewellery set in 18K gold or platinum.
"Sapphire jewellery is about 5%-10% of our total production," says executive Chris Wan, adding that the company's customers usually prefer to use Ceylon sapphires and there is no problem with supply. "We combine sapphires with diamonds because that looks best."
Established in 1970, the company still does most of its manufacturing in Hong Kong. "We do the big sets here," Wan adds. "About 20% of our production is for mass-market items that sell for less than US$20,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece, and those pieces are done at our factory in Panyu on the Chinese mainland."
The most saleable range for jewellery set with precious stones or diamonds is about US$80,000 per set, although prices can go much higher for larger stones.
No minimum order is required, with deliveries shipped to markets in the Middle East, the US, Europe and Japan 3-4 weeks after order confirmation.
Unusual cuts, such as pear shapes, are helping to drive sapphire jewellery sales at Chase Jewellery Mfy Ltd. About 20% of the 1,000 pieces the 20-year-old firm produces for export to the US and Europe each month at its mainland factory in Shunde feature sapphires.
"We mostly combine sapphires with diamonds, but sometimes mix sapphires and emeralds," explains marketing executive Lawrence Chow, adding that the company requires no minimum order and shipments are ready three weeks after order confirmation.
Chase Jewellery offers two sapphire-and-diamond jewellery lines - a commercial range with fashionable designs that sells for less than US$1,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece and a prestige selection in more classic styles with pieces priced higher than US$1,000.
Dynasty Jewelry (HK) Ltd sources the sapphires for its jewellery from Sri Lanka and Madagascar. "The colour and lustre is better and the quality is higher," claims Desmond Wong, a director of the 11-year-old firm.
Sapphire centre stones in 2-5 carat sizes are the best-selling range for rings, which typically sell for US$3,000-6,000 FOB Hong Kong per piece. Sapphires and diamonds are a classic combination but the company also mixes sapphires and emeralds, and sapphires and spinel. "Contrasting colours are a trend," adds Wong.
The company offers its own brand-name collections in two price ranges. Higher-end Dynasty items sell for US$3,000 and up FOB HK per piece, while Dame, which is aimed at younger women, costs about US$1,000 per piece.
The OEM/ODM firm requires a minimum US$10,000 order and delivers three weeks after order confirmation to markets in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Thai sapphires are a favourite of Jewellery Collection Mfr Ltd, which generally uses stones smaller than one carat in its Japanese-, European- and US-style collections. "Sapphires are becoming more popular," observes Nicole Cheng, designer at the OEM/ODM firm. "It helps that prices are a little cheaper."
Cheng enjoys mixing-and-matching different cuts and colours to make the jewellery look more interesting. "I like using blue sapphires with pink sapphires and diamonds," she admits. "Sometimes we use all the sapphire colours - blue, yellow, green, pink and white - in one piece."
Jewellery Collection's prices range from HK$210,000 FOB Hong Kong for a blue sapphire and yellow diamond necklace to HK$57,000 and HK$30,000 respectively for matching earrings and ring. Minimum order is 10 pieces per style, delivered 3-4 weeks after order confirmation to major markets such as Asia, Europe and the US.
Specialising in small sapphires that are less than 10 points in size, Polaris Jewellery Mfr Ltd makes a wide range of medium-priced jewellery sets with sapphires.
Both design and price play a role in the choice of smaller stones, says spokesperson Penny Cheng. "We also use sapphires to highlight other stones - for example, we might have a blue topaz centre stone with two sapphires on the side," she adds. "Mixing sapphires with semiprecious stones gives a different look."
The OEM/ODM firm manufactures 20,000 pieces of 8-18-karat jewellery per month at its ISO 9001-certified factory in Panyu and exports to the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Russia and South America.
Sapphire jewellery accounts for about 15% of the total, with minimum orders of six pieces or pairs per style delivered 4-6 weeks after order confirmation.
Precious yet versatile, sapphires have been long sought-after for their wearability as much as for their radiant hues and are truly gemstones fit for those who appreciate life's finest treasures.
WRITTEN BY PEARL KINCAID
Polaris Jewellery Mfr Ltd
Units 23-24, 3/F, Blk B
Focal Ind Centre
21 Man Lok St
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Waddy Jewellery Co Ltd
Rm 204, Tower 2
8 Hok Cheung St
Hung Hom, Kowloon