Organisers say more space is needed for participants to showcase their designs THE HONG KONG International Jewellery Show is closer to becoming the biggest event of its kind in the region after its number of exhibitors surged 12 per cent this year, putting a strain on the space available at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), the jewellery show claims to be the second-largest in the region after another Hong Kong-based annual event which is held in September. This year the show has attracted 1,500 exhibitors from 40 countries, compared with last year's 1,380 exhibitors from 34 countries who rubbed shoulders with 24,912 international buyers. The trade fair is being held from today until Friday. TDC senior exhibitions manager Anne Chick said the growth of the show had been constrained by the venue. 'The availability of space at the exhibition cannot meet the demand,' Ms Chik said. 'We expect the show will grow further if we have more space, given its growing trend in recent years.' The Les Salons Prives has been added this year, allowing exhibitors to showcase their premium jewellery to invited buyers behind closed doors. 'There are nine exhibitors participating [in Les Salons Prives]. Six are Hong Kong companies and the other three are from Thailand. This area allows exhibitors to discuss business with their VIP buyers in a private and comfortable setting,' Ms Chick said. Other high-end jewellery, designer collections and timepieces will be on display at Le Salon Extraordinaire, the Designer Jewellery Galleria and the Watch and Clock Pavilion. The World of Pearl and Gem will showcase the products of more than 300 exhibitors. There will be 16 group pavilions at this year's show. These include the International Colored Gemstone Association, the Platinum Pavilion formed of Platinum Guild International, and first-time pavilions from Dubai and the Japan Jewellery Designers Association. Parades of models wearing selected items of exhibitors' jewellery in the first three days of the fair, an exhibition of the winning designs of the sixth Hong Kong Jewellery Design Competition and the International South Sea Pearl Jewellery Design Competition will serve to add glitter to this year's show. Now in its 22nd year, the fair has attracted more than 900 local exhibitors and more than 110 exhibitors from Thailand, 90 from Japan and 70 from Italy. Other countries include Taiwan (47), the mainland (35), Israel (35), the United States (31), South Korea (30), India (29) and Belgium (20). Countries new to the show are Lebanon, Macau, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. Pearls and pearl jewellery dealer A & A International has supported the show for more than 15 years, as the number of overseas exhibitors has grown. 'The show is very important because we can meet new buyers and showcase our latest products,' said A & A's owner and designer Rosalina Wong. 'It is hard to calculate exactly how much we make from the show directly, but the orders we get from the buyers we meet at the show definitely makes up a significant part of our profits.' Jacky Chu Wai-ho, brand development officer of first-time exhibitor 3rd Person, said he hoped the show would prove to be an important platform to meet overseas buyers. 'We want to promote our new brand MHK, which stands for 'Made in Hong Kong', to overseas buyers. We are confident we will get satisfactory results from our first attempt at exhibiting our products at the show,' Mr Chu said. Anti-theft measures similar to last year's will be implemented at this year's show. 'We have maintained continuous discussion with the police and have devised thorough security measures for the fair,' said Ms Chick. 'What we want to emphasise is exhibitors and buyers should stay alert to protect their properties and valuables at all times.'