THERE WAS A strong sense of Asian culture in the designs submitted at this year's Hong Kong Jewellery Design Competition. The contest, now in its sixth year, is held in conjunction with the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show to enhance the creativity and quality of the industry and to promote local products overseas. The winning designs will be on display throughout the show. The two themes chosen this year - 'a convergence of the classics and the modern' and 'colour of cultures' - gave local jewellery designers room to shine. A total of 176 entries were received this year and judges selected the winners out of 31 finalists, based on each design's creativity and innovation, marketability and wearability. The Hong Kong Japan Business Co-operation Committee will send the winners to Japan for a five-day jewellery design course at the Hiko Mizuno College of Jewellery at the end of March. Best of Show award winner Kwan Chok-kai's entry 'Blink, Blink and Beyond', is a ring featuring a series of 4.01-carat red rubies on one side and 3.09-carat diamonds on the other. It can be flipped over and worn with either the diamonds or rubies facing. Mr Kwan, a designer with Karp Jewellery, said he drew inspiration from 'washboards', the old-fashioned wooden board used to scrub clothes. 'The red side represents the hardworking attitude of Hongkongers, while the diamond side represents our glamorous city.' He used 315 red rubies and the same number of diamonds, while the rest of the ring is made with 18-carat white gold. It has a retail price of $30,000. 'The ring can also be transformed into a necklace by sliding a chain through a side slot,' he added. Mr Kwan started his career as a graphic designer and has never studied jewellery design. He entered the industry six years ago and this was his first entry in a jewellery design competition. Chu Wai-on's 1960s-inspired necklace design 'Sixty' combines old and new by using a variety of materials, including red plastic beads, black onyx beads, 18-carat rose gold, 18-carat white gold, 18-carat black gold and brown and white diamonds. The design won her a Best of Show award. 'People in the '60s wore a lot of plastic jewellery and used bright colours as well as loud designs,' she said. Chu said she had to do a lot of research to create the design because she had not grown up in the 1960s. 'So most of my inspiration came from the stories my parents told me,' she said. The sponsor, Luk Fook Group, has yet to set a retail price. Wu Chui-luen's 'Sea of Treasures' earrings inspired by fish won the third Best of Show award. 'The earrings represent the glistening backs of fish when they are swimming in the sea,' said Ms Wu, a designer at Chow Sang Sang Jewellery for the past three years. Round discs made with diamonds and three colours of 18-carat gold to represent shiny scales glitter and shine as the wearer moves. Ms Wu says from design to production, the earrings took her two weeks to complete. 'Connecting each circular disc together proved to be the most difficult part,' she said. The earrings have a retail price of $50,000.