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Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011
Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011
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Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011

Global markets were more upbeat at the Spring Hong Kong Jewellery Show. Coleby Nicholson reports on the mood.

Promoted as Asia’s largest spring fair by event organiser Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show is seen by many as a bellwether for the coming year.  After a number of years in the doldrums thanks to the Global Financial Crisis, the signs are positive for a continued, albeit steady, recovery in the world markets.

What can often be an indication of better times ahead is when buyers complain about high prices. Prices for diamonds and gemstones lost their sparkle during the global downturn, but this year some visitors were heard complaining about “crazy diamond prices”.

Even more encouraging was the post-fair announcement by the organiser of a record number of “around 37,000 buyers” attending. Other records were broken too. Opening the five-day event on March 4, Lawrence Ma, chairman of the HKTDC Jewellery Advisory Committee, said there was a record number of more than 2,870 exhibitors from 46 countries and regions – an increase of 200 compared with the 2010 fair.

The opening ceremony was upbeat, with Ma noting that the global jewellery market was on the upswing. “With the global jewellery market back on its stylish feet, these are promising times. The upswing is driven, in good part, by the Chinese mainland and its growing appetite for jewellery. Last year, jewellery sales on the mainland totalled some US$30 billion. And the mainland is expected to become the world’s biggest market for luxury goods over the next decade.”

Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011
Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011

Export figures confirm that the GFC-hit jewellery industry has been steadily getting back on its feet, with Hong Kong’s total exports of fine jewellery reaching US$4.4 billion last year – an increase of 21 per cent over 2009. However, there is still further improvement needed to reach the 2008 peak of US$5.2 billion.

Speaking to Jeweller on the second day of the fair, Ma said, “I feel the buying mood is very strong. Because prices have been on the rise in the last six months – gold and diamond prices – so people are more confident to stock-up on goods.” Many of the developed markets have begun to stabilise, according to Ma, and he said one of the contributing factors has been the end of the “destocking process” which began in 2008 – where suppliers reduced stock levels as a result of reduced buyer demand.

Another positive note was the growing attendance of emerging markets at the fair, something the HKTDC closely monitors and nurtures. “Buyers from emerging markets turned out in force as well, with buyers from the Chinese mainland up 33 per cent, India up 41 per cent, Russia up 27 per cent and Brazil up 29 per cent. Buyers from Japan were up 16 per cent,” a post-fair media release revealed.

Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011
Hong Kong International Jewellery Show 2011

While these trends are encouraging, back on the floor is where it really matters, and the diamond and gemstone halls were bustling. Specialist diamond publications that closely monitor the activity of the diamond dealers reported  buoyant sales – a first for many years. Rapaport quoted one happy dealer who said, “This was the first show since the crisis, over the past two and a half years, that we have witnessed a seller’s, rather than buyer’s, market.”

As in previous years, the Hong Kong Show had many Australian buyers in attendance, courtesy of the HKTDC buying mission. This year there were 10 Australian exhibitors and one from New Zealand, although most are opal traders. Tony Young, managing director of Coober Pedy-based Tony Young Opals, said that the event had been good. Young has exhibited at the fair since 2002 and said, “We exhibit our loose opals and we’ve had a good result, pretty much the same as last year.”

Coleby Nicholson attended the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show courtesy of the fair organiser. The 2012 spring show will run February 16 to 20.

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