A record-breaking 2,600 exhibitors from 44 countries and regions will take part in the 27th edition of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's (HKTDC) Hong Kong International Jewellery Show. The number of exhibitors is up 12 per cent from last year thanks to an improving global economy. The show is taking place today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai, until Tuesday. Zones include the new World of Glamour, which will showcase fine jewellery from 410 Hong Kong exhibitors. Other zones include Hall of Fame, Hall of Extraordinary, Designer Galleria, Hall of Antique and Vintage Jewellery, Hall of Jade Jewellery, Hall of Nature, Exclusive Showroom and Hall of Time. The product categories are fine jewellery, silver jewellery, finished jewellery, antique jewellery, jade jewellery, diamonds, precious stones, South Sea and Tahiti pearls, freshwater and cultured pearls, semi-precious stones, jewellery accessories, jewellery display and packaging materials, jewellery tools and equipment, trade publications and services, trade associations, brand-name watches and clocks, and complete watches and clocks. Many exhibitors have been long-time supporters of the show. 'We have been in the show since 2002, as it is internationally recognised and, unlike other major international jewellery exhibitions around the world, the Hong Kong [exhibition] attracts buyers from all around the world,' says Kitty Wong, marketing manager of Waddy Jewellery Group. As the show takes place in the early part of the year, the company can also take note of upcoming trends. For another exhibitor, Hodel, the fair attracts its targeted customers. 'We started to participate in 1986. It is the largest spring show in Asia and is a must for us as we get to know new customers, especially from China,' says managing director Rene Hodel. Local companies are also attracted to the show by its efficiency and the buyers it draws. 'HKTDC helps promote local brands and also divides every section clearly, which is helpful because buyers can be easily directed to us,' says Joanna Hui, director and chief designer of Be'vish. However, Hui adds there is still room to improve the promotion of local brands. 'Setting up your own jewellery brand in Hong Kong is not easy and the government could put in more effort to help new companies.' During last year's grim economic downturn, like every other industry, the jewellery industry was hard hit, so companies had to come up with marketing strategies to survive. Wong says big wholesale or manufacturing companies were able to divert their target markets to more countries to cover their losses, but small companies may not have been as lucky. 'To set up in a new environment, companies have to send people to see if the place is suitable and this takes resources that small companies may not be able to afford,' she says. Wong has high hopes for the industry as the global economy, especially in the United States and Europe, slowly starts to pick up, yet she predicts that jewellery sales will take at least three years to recover to the level they were before the financial crisis. Some effects of the economic downturn still linger in jewellery designs on display at this year's show, ranging from affordable jewellery to unique designs. Benjamin Chau, HKTDC's deputy executive director, says that jewellery is no longer the sole prerogative of the high-end market. 'Jewellery now closely follows trends in fashion, allowing the industry to also target the younger, middle-income market segment, often in the form of branded jewellery,' he says. Wong says that Waddy Jewellery products will be lighter as there is a demand for more low-cost products. 'Since the economic crisis, there is an increase in demand for lighter products. They cost less and the trend is still continuing.' Other significant designs from Waddy Jewellery this year include the use of coloured gemstones. 'Each piece of jewellery will be like a colour palette with different coloured gemstones fixed to it,' Wong says. When it comes to wedding jewellery, Hui says that business was adversely affected last year and the company had to cut costs and introduce promotions to attract customers. For this year's show, Be'vish is showcasing a range of jade brooches and rose-coloured gold and pastel jewellery. Hodel, which is a pearl jewellery company, is showing a range of baroque jewellery. 'Customers, nowadays, want a more individual and natural lifestyle - they appreciate natural gifts from nature that have minimal human touch and processes,' Hodel says. 'The organic form of baroque pearl gives a very natural feeling. Unlike a round-shaped pearl, each baroque pearl has a unique shape and does not have an axis of symmetry.'