A dazzling comeback for the jewelry industry




The Manila Times


Entertainment & Lifestyle

THE pandemic may have forced the world’s glittering jewelry industry into the dark shadows, but if the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) latest twin jewelry fairs were any indication, a dazzling new future should be in store for the indefatigable industry. At the beginning of this month, HKTDC mounted the 39th HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show and the 9th HKTDC Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show anew. They were among the first major trade fairs to be staged since Hong Kong reopened. In fact, the combo event’s opening day coincided with the facemask mandate’s official conclusion. As expected, the sparkling events filled the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to capacity on the first day alone. Over 2,500 exhibitors occupied the available floor area, while 60,000 buyers from 130 countries and regions visited the venue for the next five days. While the number of buyers still fell below the 90,000 recorded in 2019 — the last edition before the pandemic — organizers were very pleased with the outcome compared to 2021’s 30,000 turnout. In a statement, Sophia Chong, HKTDC Executive Director, shared the agency’s delight to witness the overwhelming support of industry buyers and exhibitors for the twin shows. “The vibrant atmosphere, busy traffic and packed booths not only reflected the global jewelry market’s pent-up demand after three years and strong buying power but also reaffirmed Hong Kong’s position as the world’s premier trade fair capital in Asia, which brings the world together to do business and to build relationships,” Chong said. Hybrid happenings Following HKTDC’s Exhibition+ hybrid model, the twin fairs offered an online component that allowed global jewelers and traders to set digital meetings even a week beyond the physical event days via the Click2Match smart business matching platform. Nevertheless, exhibitors with whom The Manila Times Lifestyle spoke agree that the face-to-face model is still essential for their business. “Jewelry is not like any product that you see online and then purchase. Jewelry is all about the feel — people want to wear it, see how it looks and how they feel on the skin. Jewelry needs to have a touch,” Ankur Shah, creative manager of Ariha jewelry company, underscored. Shah said Ariha has been a regular at the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show and additionally attends 15 other shows around the globe per year. Sailesh Lakhi of Sparkles and Colors USA Inc. unwittingly agreed when he said that jewelry is about personal preference. “Trends can come and go, but everybody’s got their own experience with jewelry, and they will buy based on that experience,” Lakhi said. Indeed, experiencing the pieces in real life was what thousands of buyers were able to do during the fair. No matter what their preferences were — precious stones, diamonds, pearls and more — they could try them on for fit. Talking to jewelry designers and understanding their design process was another advantage of physically attending the fair. Furthermore, the jewelry shows afforded the buyers to discover brands — startups and established ones — previously unknown to them. Richard Wu, whose eponymous brand was a first-time participant, was one of the designers who eagerly introduced his contemporary creations amid endless other classic exhibits. Wu takes the most pride in his eye-catching “Nirvana” piece — a hollow earring featuring titanium and colored stones covered with 0.1 to 0.2 millimeter-thin woven 18k gold. “It’s a caterpillar inside that’s about to turn into a butterfly. This piece tries to catch that moment. As the name suggests, the inspiration is nirvana, the time between death and rebirth,” Wu describes for The Manila Times. Another young artisan who joined the fair was a local designer, gemmologist, craftsman and entrepreneur named Yve Chan, who founded DAWN Jewelry. Besides his modern pieces, Chan featured a unique display rack that in itself is a work of art. His exhibition titled “Cabinet of Dawn” took inspiration from two sources: the traditional Chinese displays used by nobles and emperors to exhibit their jewelry and Western royalties and conquerors whose rare and valuable collections from around the globe were kept in a cabinet of curiosities. The wood cabinet, designed and created by Hong Kong carpenter Ken Chow, carried Dawn Jewellery’s jadeite, diamond, pearl, and vintage objects, and collections, among others. Exciting future ahead Despite initial setbacks, HKTDC delivered another successful event, and after busy days, the twin fairs showed that the future is unquestionably brighter for the industry. A more solid indicator was the result of HKTDC’s on-site surveys, which found that around 60 percent of exhibitors (62 percent) and buyers (61 percent) expect their business growth to return to prepandemic levels in a year. Furthermore, more than 60 percent of respondents foresee that overall sales will increase in 2023, and 74 percent of buyers anticipate a rise in sourcing costs. Interestingly, Karat white gold and Karat yellow gold are expected to be the most popular metal product in 2023, while diamonds will be the most indemand gemstone. Social media, e-commerce and big data are also expected to significantly impact the jewelry industry in the next three years. In addition to the high volume of buyers and exhibitors, HKTDC reported robust business results across the shows. In fact, HK$100 million in sales was recorded by some exhibitors Exhibitor Bruno Scarselli and Davide Scarselli, co-owners of Scarselli Diamonds Inc., from the United States, shared with HKTDC, “The twin shows are making a strong comeback this year. After the pandemic, the mood is positive, and buyers are willing to buy. We have met a lot of buyers from Europe, Japan, Korea, Mainland China and the Middle East who are very interested in our blue and pink diamonds. Twelve buyers, including six from Mainland China, already placed on-site orders amounting to US$11 to 12 million for our fancy color diamonds.” Meanwhile, David Abraha, a jewelry buyer from the US, said, “The Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl provides an important platform for me to meet suppliers from worldwide in one place. I always come here to connect with new suppliers. At this year’s show, I found suppliers of loose diamonds from Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong. My budget is up to US$5 million.” With the massive turnout and satisfied reactions from exhibitors and buyers, the Hong Kong International Jewellery and Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl shows are definitely back for good.