Treasures unearthed in ancient China are becoming harder to find, with supply diminishing in response to increasing demand from collectors in the United States and Europe. According to Oi Ling Chiang of Contes d'Orient and Gallery Oi Ling, the trend will soon result in an end to prices as we know them. 'Now is a good time to buy antiques,' says Ms Chiang, owner of Gallery Oi Ling on Hollywood Road, which sells excavated terracotta pieces, and Contes d'Orient on Lyndhurst Terrace, which sells antique Chinese furniture. 'Chinese antiques are still well below market value because the market in China is not well developed,' Ms Chiang says. 'People are becoming more educated, and also learning through the Internet. So prices are starting to catch up.' She says that at recent auctions in New York and London the demand for Chinese antiques was strong despite the state of the economy. 'You can still get good pieces for a good price, but we do not know how long this will last. Supply is diminishing while demand is increasing.' Ms Chiang said an 18th-century, solid-top altar table that would have cost a maximum dealer's price of $20,000 five years ago would cost a minimum of $60,000 today. 'It is worth investing now as prices will only continue to rise,' she says. Ms Chiang's companies, which deal only in authentic antiques, do business mainly by word of mouth. 'We guarantee our items are 100 per cent genuine. If one day the client wants to sell a piece, we will be happy to buy it back,' she says. With good stock becoming increasingly hard to find, it now seems a wise move that the company decided to acquire a large volume of pieces in 1996. Items include rare pottery from the Neolithic period (5,000BC-25,00BC), the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and the Tang Dynasty (618AD-907AD) The most popular of these archeological treasures are horses, camels and large figurines. In the furniture range, the focus includes Ming-style pieces (1366-1644AD) of the kind usually seen in an ancient scholar's home. The pieces are simple and elegantly styled, focusing on the grain of the wood and free of excessive ornamentation. These are rare examples from a dynasty that many say perfected the art of Chinese furniture-making. Now that Central Government policy has been tightened to limit the export of such national treasures, fewer such pieces can be expected to be available outside China in the future, Ms Chiang says. Antique Chinese furniture is in great demand overseas, and experts predict scarce supply and high prices in the near future. Contes d'Orient, in Hong Kong, prides itself on the authenticity of its goods.