The growing demand for jewellery products in China and India has been driving growth in the industry since the global recession. The two Asian powerhouses have also played a central role in the expansion of September's annual Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, turning it into the largest fine jewellery event in the world. This year's fair, running from today until Saturday at AsiaWorld-Expo, and from Thursday to Monday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai, has recorded a 5 per cent growth in the number of exhibitors from last year. The 28th edition of the fair has more than 3,200 exhibitors from 45 countries and regions showcasing their jewellery products this year, reflecting its significance in the industry. The fair's organiser, UBM Asia, expects 40,000 buyers from 140 countries and regions to visit the event. Letitia Chow Mei-lai, director of business development, jewellery group, at UBM Asia, says that in the present economic environment, exhibitors are very careful in choosing the right trade fair to market their products. 'The economy has not yet fully recovered. Most jewellery fairs in the world are downsizing, but the [Hong Kong] fair is still growing,' Chow says. 'Since it is now an important fair in the world and there are several emerging markets near Hong Kong, exhibitors have chosen to come here to market their products. 'Some overseas companies, who might not have considered developing their business in this region in the past, are also seizing new business opportunities in the region through the September fair.' In addition to the 22 group pavilions, India is the pavilion of the year with the participation of more than 130 exhibitors from the country, showcasing jewellery, diamonds, gemstones and jewellery-related raw materials. 'In recent years, China and India have become significant jewellery markets,' Chow says. 'India is the pavilion of the year in the fair to consolidate their market position through promoting their products.' To help the trade fair and make the event more accessible, the organiser has split exhibitors into two venues based on the nature of their products. All the fine finished jewellery will be exhibited at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, while items ranging from loose diamonds, pearls, coloured gemstones, to equipment and packaging products will be displayed at AsiaWorld-Expo. Since the establishment of AsiaWorld-Expo in 2006, the organiser has been staging the trade fair at both the Wan Chai and Chek Lap Kok venues to accommodate the growing number of exhibitors. 'We used to arrange new exhibitors at AsiaWorld-Expo. However, we found that some products showcased at the two venues were duplicated,' says Celine Lau, jewellery fairs director at UBM Asia. 'After conducting research, we found that product classification could better connect exhibitors with the right buyers, and help buyers use their time more efficiently.' Buyers looking for luxury items can go to the fine design pavilion, located in the Grand Hall at the HKCEC, which will host 77 high-end jewellery companies with their exquisite jewellery sets, bejewelled watches, invaluable antique and estate jewellery. Those searching for high-quality loose gems can visit AsiaWorld-Expo's fine gem pavilion which will display the world's finest loose diamonds, pearls and gemstones from 54 exhibitors. The organiser says that exhibitors had doubts about the new strategy when it was adopted last year. However, satisfying results ensured that the fair won the support of the Hong Kong Gemstone Manufacturers' Association and Hong Kong Pearl Association, which joined the advisory board this year, and promoted the fair to their members, boosting the number of exhibitors this year. The fair also features the largest ever Diamond pavilion at AsiaWorld-Expo, with exhibitors from countries such as Belgium, Israel, India and the United States. However, more than 1,380 local companies will also participate. To provide a platform for local jewellery companies, a series of parades will be held at the Hong Kong premier pavilion from Thursday until Sunday at HKCEC. There will be also be a series of seminars in pavilions at both venues, outlining the latest industry trends and issues hosted by leading international jewellery organisations and companies, including the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand, EGL Asia, Hong Kong Institute of Gemmology and the Gemmological Association of Hong Kong.