Highlights of the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show

The annual Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, one of Asia’s largest spring jewelry buying events, opened with a bang on March 5 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the four-day event plays host to 3,309 exhibitors from 49 different countries, including Peru (a newcomer to the fair this year). Nearly half of all exhibitors are based in Hong Kong. Ten unique product zones include the Designer Galleria, the Hall of Chic for silver brands, as well as a new Small Order Zone for orders in quantities between five and 500 pieces that sell for less than $1,000 per piece.

One of the reasons the fair is important is because the business among Hong Kong jewelry firms is brisk: In 2012, the market recorded $7 billion in jewelry exports and $12 billion in jewelry imports.

That’s one reason why Fiera di Vicenza officials attend the show in force: executive director Corrado Facco; Paola De Luca, creative director and forecaster of the fair’s TRENDVISION Jewellery & Forecasting; and Paola Guida, Italian Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong, joined forces for a press conference on the first day of the fair to review the significance of the Italians’ involvement.

“In 2012, $658 million of Italian jewelry was exported to Hong Kong,” said Guida, adding that Italy was the sixth greatest supplier of jewelry to Hong Kong. This year, 150 Italian exhibitors are at the show, which is also hosting a TRENDVISION station on the 4th floor.

The show’s education schedule included an examination of market trends in Europe and the U.S. courtesy of Didier Brodbeck, founder of DREAMS magazine in Paris, and JCK publisher Mark Smelzer. While Brodbeck discussed the growth potential—particularly in Asia and India—for jewelry and watches within the luxury category, Smelzer commented on the shrinking American middle class and the continued trend of consolidation among retailers.

Another seminar on the consumption patterns and characteristics of mainland Chinese consumers drew a packed room of attendees. Chen Ji Heng, senior manager of the mainland China Management Centre within Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, the retailer with the largest market share in Asia, shared a number of market insights, including:

—Gold jewelry sells best because gold represents prosperity and luck in Chinese culture.

—The spending power of women is on the rise in Asia.

—Department stores and shopping malls—particularly those that offer unique experiences—are trending as preferred places to buy jewelry and watches.

—Forty percent of Chinese jewelry purchases take place around weddings.

—As the Chinese market continues to open up, consumers will become more mature and demanding, including for purchases made online.

On a related note about web-based sales, the show saw the debut of the Pay App—the HKTDC and Visa’s answer to America’s Square reader for accepting mobile payments—to accommodate mobile buyers. “The whole phenomenon in the U.S. was the trigger for the launch,” said Tom Tobin, Visa country manager for Hong Kong and Macau. Like the Square reader, the Pay App is a small device that affixes to smartphones to accept credit card swipes.

Mark Smelzer talking at the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show this week

Mark Smelzer talking about American jewelry market trends during the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show this week.

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