By Bernardette Sto. Domingo, Katie Wong
This year’s September Fair delivered unexpectedly upbeat results amid a challenging scenario, with exhibitors highlighting the presence of quality buyers at the show.
The 2019 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair concluded with better-than-expected results as serious buyers visited the seven-day international sourcing event.
Renowned as the world's top jewellery marketplace that connects global suppliers with quality visitors, the fair saw more serious buying activity and better-quality visitor traffic amid tougher conditions arising from an ongoing social unrest in Hong Kong.
Loose materials were displayed from September 16 to 20 at the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) while finished jewellery collections and industry-related tools and technologies were presented at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) from September 18 to 22.
Trade fair organiser Informa Markets reaffirmed the show's reputation as the ultimate meeting place for the global jewellery industry.
David Bondi, senior vice president – Asia at Informa Markets, commented, “What's happening in Hong Kong and the uncertainties in the global economy are affecting us in a certain way. Visitor turnout was down but traffic quality was up. We've received compliments from exhibitors and high-quality visitors who engaged in serious trading at the show.”
Exhibitors interviewed by JNA said there were fewer buyers at the fair, particularly from China, but those who showed up had specific requests and were there to do business. Interviewed on the last day of the AWE section of the fair, Sanjay Shah of India-based JB And Brothers Pvt Ltd said it was a good show for them. Buyers mostly looked for 1-carat stones as well as 30 to 50 pointers. Larger-sized diamonds in top-quality colours and of VS and SI clarity grades also moved fast at the show.
The company likewise launched its high-tech diamond services, which garnered positive response from the trade.
He said people were sceptical about the show's outcome, but JB And Brothers was pleasantly surprised to entertain buyers from Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia, Israel, India and even a few from China. The market remains slow, but manufacturers are producing less to manage their inventories, which could help stabilise the business eventually, continued the company official.
Buyers also trooped to Hini Star Ltd's booth at the AWE to witness the launching of The OPTICA Series™, a collection of inventive cuts that further enhances a diamond's brilliance and unique appeal.
Smit Virani, chief operating officer of Hini Star Ltd, said the trade craves for new and innovative products to spruce up their inventories, adding that disruptions and challenges also present opportunities for growth in the industry.
Coloured gemstone traders meanwhile saw steady demand for nice-quality gemstones such as aquamarines, Paraiba tourmalines and spinels, to name a few.
Clement Sabbagh, president of the International Colored Gemstone Association, said Europeans and Americans made up for the lack of Chinese buyers at the show. He also cited continued interest in exceptional stones.
Overall, gemstone megastars rubies, sapphires and emeralds continue to be strong contenders in the trade, but other gem options are also making headways. “Paraiba tourmalines and spinels also have a solid following. Some red and pink spinels from Tanzania are especially favoured now,” continued Sabbagh.
Vikar Ahmed of Vikar Ahmed Fine Gemstones of Germany cited the popularity of blue stones at the fair, with buyers inquiring mostly about his aquamarines and Paraiba tourmalines. Majority of customers looked for 2-carat to 4-carat stones for rings, but some clients also asked for 7-carat to 15-carat items, as well as 40-carat to 50-carat stones.
Vikar entertained quality buyers from South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. He also found new clients from Switzerland and China.
Pearl dealers also saw some activity at the show floor, with clients from Europe and the US visiting the pearl section.
Japan Pearl Exporters' Association Chairman Yoshihiro Shimizu said general demand for pearls remains solid. At the show, buyers frequently requested white South Sea pearls. However, only nice-quality or price-point items are moving in the market, noted Shimizu.
“Our buyers were a mix of Europeans and Americans as business with the Chinese remains subdued. This situation may last for quite some time. Buyers are cautious, but we must be more proactive. We have to keep improving promotional initiatives and opening new markets,” he added.
Informa Markets also presented the refreshed brand identity of its June and September Fairs: Jewellery & Gem Asia Hong Kong for the June edition and Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong for the September show.
Bondi stated, “This brand-refresh initiative reflects who we are as an industry partner. Our new visual identity reaffirms our commitment to the jewellery world, and that is to connect and engage with the global jewellery community, inspire true partnership and celebrate the very best that the industry has to offer.”
The 2020 edition of Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong, the biggest jewellery fair in the world, is scheduled for September 13 to 17 at the AWE and September 15 to 19 at the HKCEC.