1 March 2000
Visitor Increase Boosts Sales (HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 01,2000)
Visitor Increase Boosts Sales
THE international jewellery industry arrived in greater numbers in Hong Kong for the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Watch Fair '99.
According to organiser Miller Freeman Asia Ltd, 29,570 visitors attended the fair, an increase of 10% over 1998, boosting exhibitors' sales and orders signed during the fair, and providing further evidence of the rapidly returning strength of Asia's jewellery business. A total of 1,743 exhibitors from 45 countries and regions displayed their goods.
The overall increase in attendance was driven by strong growth in visitors from outside Hong Kong, particularly from mainland China, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand. About 40% of visitors came from outside Hong Kong, compared with 35% at the 1998 September fair. There was an increase in the number of visitors from the region's biggest market, Japan, as well as from Europe and the US.
"The overall industry reaction to the fair was very positive and enthusiastic, by both exhibitors and visitors. Most jewellery exhibitors reported good traffic and an upbeat mood by buyers. Providing a priority forum in the region for the jewellery industry, the September fair has proved yet again to be the best buying and selling marketplace in Asia for the global jewellery business," said Peter Sutton, a director of Miller Freeman Asia.
Many new jewellery collections were successfully launched at the fair, while pearls, especially the freshwater variety from mainland China, continued to enjoy their growing popularity.
"I bought only Chinese fresh-water pearls at this show, all in assembled necklaces and earrings," said Charles Benbow, an independent buyer from the US. "This area has been quite popular in the US lately, especially since the pearls are bigger, have nice shapes and come in natural colours of white, peach and lavender, with the dyed black also being very popular. The quality is very good for reasonable prices.
"If I had not come to this and other fairs in Hong Kong, I would not have the valuable contacts that I have found each and every year. It only takes one new good contact to pay for and make the trip worthwhile."
Particularly popular from the booths piled high with Chinese freshwater pearls were station pearl necklaces on microcord, called "floating pearls" by some dealers.
Mark Haddy, a regular Australian buyer at Hong Kong fairs, also noted demand for these necklaces. "The fashion, which stems from Europe, has seen many companies all trying to create their own range this year. Some suppliers were more expensive but the quality of the cheaper suppliers was not up to standard," he said.
Haddy added his thoughts on trade fairs in Hong Kong. "Attending the fairs allows me to source new suppliers, while comparing prices and range of the competition all in one place. Hong Kong always keeps up with the latest jewellery fashion trends from around the world, so I can relay the trends back to Australia," he said.
In other market sectors, sales of loose diamonds showed returning market strength. Gemstones generally maintained their strong growth on the back of increasing demand for coloured stones on white metals.
The fair offered opportunities for jewellery traders to attend special events, such as pearl auctions, special jewellery displays and fashion parades. Attendance at seminars this year exceeded that of previous fairs. Miller Freeman's Sutton said: "It appears that visitors to the fair are now realising the full value of the event by not only spending days in the exhibition halls but also devoting hours to learning more about the latest technical and market developments at world-leading workshops and conferences. We fully expect this trend to continue in the years ahead, so we will be working with the world's top organisations to increase the value of the seminars and offer more language options."
Educational seminars and workshops were held by the World Gold Council, Antwerp's Diamond High Council and the Gemmological Assn of Hong Kong. The Gemological Institute of America's GIA Gemfest Asia was well attended with a timely presentation by Tom Moses of GIA's Gem Trade Laboratory on a new diamond treatment by General Electric and Lazare Kaplan Int'l to produce and market a colour-enhanced diamond under the Pegasus Overseas Ltd name. This new treatment, which gemmologists cannot detect, turns a small percentage of rough diamonds from brown to white, giving them an artificial value in terms of perceived rarity, and this is a cause of great concern to the jewellery industry.
Prominent support from leading jewellery associations and global organisations further underlined the importance and international status of the fair. Members of the Advisory Board were The Hong Kong Jewellers' and Goldsmiths' Assn, The Hong Kong Jewellery and Jade Mfrs Assn, the Hong Kong Jewelry Mfrs' Assn, and The Diamond Importers Assn.
Sponsors included leading jewellery trade associations, the Hong Kong Diamond Bourse, The Gemmological Assn of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Gold & Silver Ornament Workers & Merchants General Union, and the Kowloon Pearls, Precious Stones, Jade, Gold and Silver Ornament Merchants Assn.
The Fair's international sponsors were the Gemological Institute of America and The Antwerp World Diamond Center.
The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Watch Fair 2000 will be held from the 20th to 24th, while the mid-year event will move earlier to May, in line with the global jewellery calendar. The May Hong Kong Jewellery & Watch Fair will be held from the 11th to 14th.
WRITTEN BY JOHNNY EDISON
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