Makeover sparks jade revival

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am

While there is nothing surprising about the prevalence of diamonds at an international trade fair for watches and jewellery, it is unusual for the understated jade to be generating as much buzz as it is this year, at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Watch Fair, which opens today.

Celine Lau Siu-man, director of jewellery fairs at CMP Asia, the event organiser, said that this recent rise in interest could be due in part to the announcement made by the Beijing Olympics organising committee last year that jade would be used in the Games medals. The reverse side of the medals would be inlaid with jade encircling the metal centrepiece stamped with the Beijing Olympics emblem, using white jade for the gold medal, a green-white jade for the silver and cyan jade for the bronze.

'Jade often has a very traditional, antiquated feel to it,' said Ms Lau. 'However, modern designers have been experimenting with different techniques and styles to make the gem appeal to younger generations.' This could involve incorporating small pieces of jade into modern designs, for example, or even using colours other than the traditional dark green.

Edward Chiu, chief designer and managing director at Edward Chiu Jewellery Art, said that he had been seeing immense interest in the black and white jade collection that he created. 'Unlike green, the black and white pieces are more contemporary and unisex,' he said. 'Its popularity could also be due to the fact that people can't easily purchase black or white jade, and often have to opt for onyx or other stones.'

The fair celebrates Hong Kong's reputation for skilfully crafted jadeite products and its location as a major centre for jade jewellery production with a gallery devoted to the gem. The Jadeite Gallery showcases a range of excellent jadeite products, and visitors who want to learn more about the gem can attend the Gemological Institute of America seminar on the Microworld of Jade on Saturday.

Other themed areas are also available at the fair, including pavilions specialising in diamonds, fine jewellery, gemstones, silver jewellery, pearls and even packing and technology. These themed pavilions make for easy browsing, 'allowing [jewellery buyers] to find what they need without difficulty', Ms Lau said.

The Diamond Pavilion is particularly staggering in size, with more than 120 diamond companies exhibiting in more than 250 booths in the Grand Hall, and potential diamond buyers are provided with a wide range of products and prices. Those looking to purchase large diamonds, however, would be hard pressed to find anything easily affordable on the market. Alfred Pong, director at Wing Hang Diamond, said that the rough supplies of large diamonds continued to diminish, and Ms Lau agreed that anything over three carats would be quite expensive.

Pearls are also attracting a good deal of attention at the fair, and Yvonne Pong, marketing director at Wing Hang Diamond, said that popular variations to look out for were the golden South Sea pearls and the irregularly-shaped Baroque pearls, widely sought for their scarcity.

Buyers will be happy to know that in addition to the themed pavilion, two pearl auctions are also held around this time. The 39th Paspaley Pearl Auction was held from June16 to 18, while the 40th Robert Wan Tahiti Perles Auction starts today and ends tomorrow.

The Hong Kong Jewellery and Watch Fair opens today at 10.30am at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and is scheduled to run until Sunday. The exhibition area covers more than 40,000 square metres, and showcases products from 1,290 exhibitors in 33 countries and regions.