All eyes on diamond companies at Hong Kong fair
By Coleby Nicholson
Since the global financial crisis, all eyes have been on the diamond category as an indicator of the jewellery industry’s health.
All industries have a few KPI’s that serve as a ‘health check’ and the diamond jewellery and loose diamonds categories are two that the industry closely watch.
Before the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show even opened the signs were good given that the number of diamond exhibitors had increased.
The Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) announced a record number of members were exhibiting with over 70 IDI members forming the Israel Diamond Pavilion. A further 20 Israeli companies were also exhibiting in other halls.
Nissim Palomo, chief marketing officer for the IDI, said that the institute had the largest pavilion taking over 1,000 square metres of exhibition space. He explained the increase represented the growing importance of the Asian region, especially Hong Kong and China; “In the past over 60 per cent of our export went to the United States but today it’s only 39-40 per cent. And everyone knows, the gateway to China is Hong Kong,” he said.
Palomo believes the decline in the US market can be attributed to, almost exclusively, the continuing financial crisis, but the US market is now stable. “It’s not going down anymore, it’s stable and we can see a small increase in sales,” Palomo said.
The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India also exhibited in a pavilion which increased to around 90 exhibitors this year.
Positive signs Australia and US
Vipul Sutariya, executive marketing director Dharam Creations, a Hong Kong based diamond dealer, echoes Palomo’s views about the US market being in recovery.
“The US market has bottomed out and we [Dharam] are experiencing sales growth in the US. The US market represents 11 per cent of company sales.”
Sutariya said India and Asia, including China, represented 56 per cent of sales while Europe and the Middle East represented 16 and 18 per cent respectively.
In a positive sign Dharam’s recorded a 27 per cent increase in sales in 2011 over 2010.
Diamond traders at this year's Hong Kong fair
More interestingly, however, Sutariya said that Dharam’s sales to Australia and New Zealand were growing and now represented one per cent of the company’s overall sales.
Sutariya told Jeweller, “While Australia is a small market, it has become an important one for our company.” He added that because of the growing importance of Australia, Dharam is investigating opening an Australian office.
“We hope to finalise an Australian and New Zealand office, probably in Sydney, before the end of this year, he said.
Speaking on the fourth day of the fair, Sutariya said he was more than happy with the results. “The first three were busy and today (Sunday) it’s been slower but the orders are higher quality,” he said.
Patented diamondsThe news was also good for BK Jewellery a Hong Kong-based exhibitor with a range of diamond jewellery titled ‘Lady Dream’. Sales manager Andy Cheung, explains that the range is based on a patented design that allows the ring to appear as if it’s a single large stone.
“Lady Dream is a worldwide patent which features one brilliant cut stone surrounded with nine special cut diamonds that give the appearance of a large solitaire diamond,” Cheung explained.
Cheung says that the patent enables women to achieve the dream of owning a large diamond ring (one-three carat), without the high price tag.
The product was first launched in 2008 and according to Cheung, the design has been very successful, becoming the company’s number one product. The range has since expanded to include fancy shapes including heart and pear shapes.
“We also launched two new shapes at this year’s fair, an oval and square shape,” Cheung said. He said the main markets for Lady Dream have been the US and Europe and the company has a small, but growing, list of retail customers in Australia.
Su-Raj Intergold is another exhibitor with a patented range of diamond jewellery. Based in Thailand, Su-Raj Intergold also appeared to do brisk business with its Love Forever.
Israeli Diamond Institute had over 70 exhibitors
Company marketing director, Ankit Dhalawat said he was very happy with the fair, especially the feedback of the ‘illusion setting’.
In a similar way to BK’s Lady Dream, the Su-Raj Intergold's diamond ring creates an illusion of a much larger diamond.
According to Dhalawat, perfecting the design took nearly four years before it was ready to be patented. “We launched it in a small way in 2010, but in a larger way last year in March [at the Hong Kong fair] with all the patents,” Dhalawat explained.
The rings are available in six shapes: round, cushion, oval, marquise, pear and heart shapes. “They come in 25 pointer up to five carat illusion look,” Dhalawat said.
The main markets to date have been Europe and the UK and “we’ve recently started selling to a number of small independents jewellers in Australia,” Dhalawat added.
Not all goodStrong buyer traffic was reported over the first few days with many exhibitors reporting that demand was a little better than expected, although they began with low expectations.
However, not all exhibitors were as busy as they would have liked. Some areas of the loose diamond halls seemed rather slow across the first three days. One dealer, who did not wish to be identified, expected better results.
“We did much better last year,” he said.
Unlike BK Jewellery and Su-Raj Intergold, business seemed slow at Lili Diamonds, another exhibitor specialising in patented diamonds. Israel-based Lili Diamonds offers a range of patented diamonds including the Crisscut, Meteor Cut and Wondercut and when asked for feedback about the fair, a company spokesman declined to comment.
* A full report will appear in the April Jeweller. Coleby Nicholson attended the 2012 Hong Kong International Jewellery Show courtesy of the HKTDC.
Posted February 21, 2012