Gems worth US$1m stolen on opening day of jewellery show

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2010, 12:00am

Police are investigating four suspected thefts of gems on the opening day of the city's biggest international jewellery show yesterday.

Two mainland men were arrested on suspicion of stealing a seven-carat diamond worth US$450,000 after allegedly swapping it for a fake.

Police were called after a staff member found the men, aged 33 and 49, behaving suspiciously at one of the booths in exhibition hall seven at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair at the AsiaWorld-Expo at around 2.30pm.

'Five fake diamonds and one real seven-carat diamond - estimated to be worth about US$450,000 - were found on the two men,' a police spokeswoman said.

'An initial investigation indicates that the two suspects took the seven-carat diamond from a booth and replaced it with a fake,' another officer said.

The two men were held at the airport police station last night for questioning. No charges were laid.

An hour earlier, an emerald necklace worth more than US$500,000 was stolen from a booth in exhibition hall nine. The theft happened around 1.30pm, just three hours after the event opened. No arrests were made.

Later in the day staff from an exhibitor called police to say eight pearls worth US$3,500 had disappeared. Police classified the case as pending theft but had made no arrests.

In another case, an exhibitor told police a bag containing 65 pearls worth US$21,000 had disappeared. Police also classified the case as pending theft. No arrests were made.

Plainclothes police officers are patrolling the exhibition halls throughout the show.

The fair runs until Saturday at the AsiaWorld-Expo. A second venue, the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, will also host the event from tomorrow until Monday.

The event features more than 3,200 exhibitors from 45 countries and regions - a 5 per cent increase on last year. The organiser expects 40,000 buyers from 140 countries.