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Cautious optimism pervades September HK Fair

7 November 2018

The latest edition of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the biggest in the show’s 36-year history, provided a comprehensive business platform to more than 3,700 exhibitors from nearly 60 countries and regions around the world.

Buyers at the 2018 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

Diamond bracelet by Karp Jewellery Mfg HK Ltd

Bi-colour tourmalines from Congo from Arnoldi International eK


A cautiously optimistic sentiment prevailed during the 36th edition of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair amid uncertainties arising from the strengthening of the US dollar, the ongoing US-China trade war, and a powerful typhoon that forced the closure of the AsiaWorld-Expo and the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) for a day.

Fair organiser UBM Asia Ltd highlighted the solid participation of vendors from key markets. More than 400 Thai gemstone suppliers and jewellers participated in the fair, forming the largest contingent of exhibitors other than those from Hong Kong and China, while a consistent rise in the number of Japanese and Turkish participants was also recorded.

More than 320 Japanese companies took part in the fair, with the delegation comprising loose pearl dealers, finished pearl jewellery manufacturers and fine jewellery specialists, according to Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at UBM Asia.

An increased participation from gemmological laboratories, tools and equipment vendors, and packaging solutions providers, was likewise noted, added Lau.

External factors

Majority of exhibitors at the AsiaWorld-Expo, where loose stones were showcased, said the show lived up to their expectations despite the typhoon, which compelled some buyers to leave earlier than scheduled. Some suppliers of top-quality gems disclosed that they did well, albeit a recent slowdown in general demand as a weakened renminbi effectively diminished Chinese clients’ purchasing power.

A significant number of exhibitors also expressed fears over global economic uncertainties arising from the US-China trade issue. US President Donald Trump recently imposed a 10 percent tariff on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports, with the duties set to rise to 25 percent at year-end. A gloomy economic outlook sparked caution among buyers.

Russia’s New Diamond Technology (NDT) meanwhile showcased its 10.06-carat, SI-clarity, octagonal step-cut, HPHT fancy intense yellow diamond at the fair. “This is the only officially known lab-grown fancy intense yellow diamond of 10 carats,” said NDT President Tamazi Khikhinashvili. He added that the demand for lab-grown diamonds is rapidly on the rise as environmentally conscious buyers constantly look for ethically mined stones.

Pawan Pamnani, proprietor of India’s Artia Jewels, was looking to spend around US$1 million on large diamonds of 5 carats and up, and coloured gems in fine cuts. The jewellery retailer intended to buy fancy-shaped diamonds and round brilliants in H to J colours.

Jewellery manufacturers at the HKCEC said buyers from Australia, the Middle East, Russia and Africa were more active this year, with the organiser recording stronger participation from these countries compared to last year.

Fine gems

Maggie Lee, owner of Lee Jewellery HK Ltd, said top-quality gems are still highly sought after, especially Paraiba tourmalines. A number of suppliers likewise pointed out that smaller gemstones of high quality are more favoured by buyers this year. A stable demand for emeralds and pink morganites was also observed, according to the International Colored Gemstone Association.

Premium-quality golden South Sea pearls remain high on the shopping list of Chinese buyers, while European and American customers continued to stock low- to middle-end pearls, according to Kwak Mie Chit of Myanmar’s Snow Pearl Jewellery.

With the annual growth in production of golden South Sea pearls in Myanmar and Indonesia, prices of medium-quality golden pearls have dropped, she added. To stay competitive, Myanmar’s pearl farms are working harder to improve the quality of their pearls. “Pearl auctions are a key indicator of market price and trends. Myanmar pearl auctions in Hong Kong indicated annual rise in prices so there is still room for price growth for premium pearls,” she noted.

Kenneth Choi, owner of Gyso Pearls & Jewellery Ltd, echoed this sentiment, adding that some Chinese buyers, including those who used to pick the choicest pearls, are more inclined to purchase middle-end products. “We have taken more orders from European and American customers this year, which is a sure sign of recovery in the US economy. On the other hand, high-end products didn’t move as fast as before, as Chinese customers were more cautious in spending these days,” Choi said.

Much frequented at the September Fair were the booths of Japanese antique jewels specialists. “Many of our customers relish the excitement of treasure hunting, and often make a purchase because of the story or the history associated with a piece,” a representative from Aaron Faber Gallery shared.