1 Sept 2003
Wedding Rings(HKTDC Jewellery, Vol 02,2003)
Pendants & Brooches
Ringing The Changes
Good Way Jewellery Mfy Ltd exports its stylish 9-, 14-, 18- and 22-karat gold gemset rings to the US, Japan and Europe
Couples have been exchanging wedding rings as a sign of commitment and everlasting love for almost 5,000 years. Ancient Egyptians were apparently the first to use wedding bands when they twisted plants like hemp into rings around their fingers.
Things have changed a lot since then and now, more than ever, wedding ring manufacturers have to work hard to keep up with new trends and provide the numerous variety of styles that couples are demanding.
White gold and platinum are increasing in popularity among Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers, as are rings that include gemstones, especially diamonds.
For example, Good Way Jewellery Mfy Ltd, which was established in 1982, specialises in 9-, 14-, 18- and 22-karat gold gemset jewellery. "We produce on an OEM basis, mainly for US customers, although we are also trying to diversify into Europe, which already accounts for about 30% of our clients," says director Paul Li, adding that his firm also sells to Japan.
Good Way sources its gold from South Africa or Australia, while rough diamonds come from South Africa or Russia but are usually cut in India.
The company's 43 workers at its Hong Kong factory produce 5,000 pieces of jewellery every month, with no minimum order size. Deliveries can be made as soon as a week after orders are confirmed and prices for wedding rings range from US$100-400 FOB Hong Kong.
Taking a different approach is International Pearl Co whose sales executive Clover Lee says her company's rings are special because they feature pearls instead of diamonds.
"The designs for our wedding rings are often simple - suitable for men and women," says Lee, adding that for engagement rings, the main theme is flowers.
"But nowadays, more and more women are wearing pearl rings to match their jewellery with the decoration on their wedding gowns, although our men's rings are usually the traditional, simple band," she says.
The firm uses Chinese freshwater pearls, white diamonds and 18-karat white gold to produce 10,000 items every month on an OEM basis, mainly for markets in North America and Europe.
Most of International Pearl's 200 workers are based at its factory in Panyu on the Chinese mainland, with the rest working from its Hong Kong office.
Prices range from US$85-250 FOB Hong Kong for minimum orders of six pieces per style delivered 4-6 weeks after an order is confirmed.
Europe is also a major market for five-year old Jace Group Ltd, which works on an OEM basis. "Ninety per cent of our jewellery is exported to Europe, mainly for mass-market chain stores and catalogues, at the mid to low-end of the market," general manager Andrew Lau explains. "Our main focus is on manufacturing, and European brands use our factories."
According to Lau, "people prefer something more traditional and conservative for wedding rings".
Each month Jace's 1,200-worker mainland factory produces 100,000 pieces of gold, gold-plated and silver jewellery priced at US$50-100 FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order size is 12 pieces per model or US$5,000 order value, and delivery times are 4-6 weeks after order confirmation.
A more traditional path has been taken by Waddy Jewellery Co Ltd, whose rings are all hand set. "We use princess cut diamonds and the most important thing is the invisible setting, so you can't see the gold between the stones," claims marketing manager Carrie Lee.
"We have a strong design team and we manufacture about 300 designs every month," she says, adding that the company keeps itself "up to date and trendy" by constantly testing new styles.
Waddy's stones come from South Africa, with cutting for higher-end rings carried out in Europe, especially Belgium. Indian cutters are used for less expensive items.
The company sells 100% of its mainland factory output to wholesalers around the world, notably the US in general and New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in particular.
Buyers also come from the United Arab Emirates, Europe, Japan and Singapore, as well as Hong Kong. "We are always looking for new markets and would especially like to expand into Germany and Belgium," adds Lee.
Waddy's prices range from US$400-1,000 FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order size is five pieces per model, with delivery time usually about four weeks after confirmation of order.
This type of commitment to meeting client needs, coupled with the enormous number of weddings held around the world each year, mean that faithful buyers can count on ringing up healthy sales for many years to come.
WRITTEN BY SUZANNE MOORE
Way Jewellery Mfy Ltd
Unit 23, 11/F, Blk B
Focal Ind Centre
21 Man Lok St
Hung Hom, Kowloon
New East Ocean Centre
9 Science Museum Rd
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowlon
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