Hongkongers love the expensive things in life, says Patti Wong, chairwoman of Sotheby's China and Southeast Asia. But for her, the ultimate luxury doesn't have a price. I have always been drawn to the arts and beautiful things, so I guess a career in auctioneering was a natural path for me. Perhaps the decisive moment was while I was studying at the London School of Economics. I attended a wine auction on behalf of my mother at Sotheby's in London and I found the whole process mesmerising. It was extremely exciting, even though in those days auctions were mainly for dealers and not the sort of circus they are today. Collecting is the epitome of luxury living, because you are buying unique objects of the highest quality. Since I completed my post-graduate studies in Asian fine arts, old Chinese paintings were naturally one of the first things I started collecting. Over the years I have been through phases, such as fine wine and modern furniture, but my tastes have broadened and I have recently developed a love for contemporary photography. These days I am drawn to subjects that give me a sense of inner peace, and my most recent purchase at auction was a print of a bookcase library by the German photographer Candida Hofer, whose work I find very interesting. The concept of luxury has evolved in Hong Kong. Now that people are choosing to spend more time at home, they are paying much more attention to the way they live, which has led to a greater awareness of good design and the arts. Subsequently, rather than compulsively shopping for the latest fads, they are choosing to acquire quality objects such as good furniture or a piece of artwork that can be displayed for a long time. Having said that, collecting is not a new thing for the Chinese and, along with London and New York, Hong Kong has been one of our three major sales centres since 1973. That is not to say the auction market hasn't changed. Ever since we introduced newer categories here such as western jewellery and contemporary Chinese pictures, where the entry-level price is much lower, we have seen a surge in younger clients. The emergence of contemporary art as a major sale category has also changed the more traditional preferences of some of our clients, as their tastes inevitably evolve along with the perpetual creation of new art. At the end of the day though, one thing remains the same: Hongkongers will always love luxury. For this reason, we expect the city to be a main market for our new venture, Sotheby's Diamonds, a 15-piece collection of white and coloured diamonds that, along with the Steinmetz Diamond Group, we commissioned the New York-based designer James de Givenchy to create. As consumers of luxury goods become more savvy, they demand greater access to information regarding the objects they acquire. Sotheby's Diamonds is a good illustration of this. We give customers a clearer idea about the piece they are purchasing, from its provenance and through the production process. I have also noticed that Hongkongers are placing more emphasis on travel as a luxury and there is an increasing interest in visiting countries with difficult access such as Bhutan, which I don't think was always the case with consumers here. For me, time is the ultimate luxury. I spend much of the year on the road, shuttling between our sales centres, so being at home with my family or relaxing with a good book is bliss.