Event expands as global economy begins to recover

Hong Kong's status as a window for international brands to enter the mainland's expanding jewellery market goes a long way towards the success of the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

According to UBM Asia, organiser of the fair, this is the biggest international jewellery fair of the year.

There are more than 3,000 exhibitors from 44 countries and regions participating, and the exhibition area is 20 per cent bigger than last year due to the expansion of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and the take-up of four more halls at AsiaWorld-Expo.

The fair starts today at the expo through Friday alongside Asia's Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair - September, which finishes on Thursday. The convention centre will host the event from Wednesday until Sunday.

'The number of exhibitors and visitors at other major international jewellery fairs held earlier this year in the United States and Europe dropped due to the economic downturn,' said Celine Lau, director of jewellery fairs at UBM Asia.

'But the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair has expanded as the economy in the latter half of this year has shown signs of picking up.'

The collapse of the US economy and the move by the central government to create a financial stimulus package, including creating more jobs and encouraging spending, led jewellery brands to switch their attention to the mainland market. As a result luxury brands started opening more stores on the mainland to grab market share.

UBM Asia also attributes the success of the fair to its one-stop shop for raw materials to finished jewellery products.

Roberto Coin, president of Roberto Coin, said: 'The September Jewellery & Gem Fair is the most important Asian jewellery show for our company because it is where we can meet all existing and potential clients [in the Asian region].'

The organiser has also restructured the fair's product differentiation to make it easier for buyers to source their desired products.

The AsiaWorld-Expo includes raw-material themed halls and pavilions including gemstones, diamonds, pearls, fine gem pavilion, tools and equipment, and jewellery parts and packaging.

The convention centre features finished jewellery themed halls and pavilions such as the Hong Kong Premier Pavilion, International Premier Pavilion, Fine Design Pavilion, Silver Jewellery Pavilion, Jadeite Gallery, Creation Zone - Designers' section, Antique and Estate Jewellery Pavilion - and the Publication Pavilion.

Lau said: 'We hope to attract more buyers with this new setting because they will have a clear idea of where to go at the fair which will save their time.' The organiser has also set up new pavilions to help promote brand names and create more attractions for visitors.

The Hong Kong Premier Pavilion that started in the June Jewellery & Gem Fair 2009 is being held again in this fair at the convention centre. There are about 40 local premier exhibitors at this pavilion aimed at jewellery suppliers for all stages of production: original engineering manufacturing, original design manufacturing and original brand manufacturing.

The International Premier Pavilion is along the lines of the Hong Kong Premier Pavilion but includes 40 international companies from 16 countries. It is being held for the first time at the fair in the convention centre.

Adam Lau, managing director of Able Jewelry, said: 'Although I think that the name of the new pavilion, International Premier Pavilion, should be adjusted because it may make visitors think less of the Hong Kong Premier Pavilion, I don't think it threatens Hong Kong pavilion business because the products at these two pavilions are significantly different in price.'

The other new pavilion - the Fine Gem Pavilion - is at the expo. This pavilion was previously included in the Fine Design Pavilion but, this year, with the expansion of the fair, there are about 50 exhibitors from 13 countries and regions displaying high quality and value gemstones, diamonds and pearls.

The organiser said that there was a noticeable new trend of jewellery designs created due to the economic downturn.

UBM Asia director of business development Letitia Chow said: 'One noticeable jewellery trend is woven jewellery, or jewellery woven with strings leaving spaces between each string. This method keeps costs down.' She said another trend was the special setting of small gems or stones to make them look like one big stone.

Manufacturers said they were producing lines of lower cost jewellery to meet the market demand and adjust to the economy but the most prestige lines of jewellery were still there.

Albert Hui, general manager of Octagon Jewellery, said: 'There are still customers, especially from the mainland, who want to buy more expensive jewellery for investment because they realise that the value of fine jewellery increases with time.'