U.S.–China Trade War Looms…and, yet, Optimism

Hallways were buzzing with attendees, booths were filled, and orders were being penned, but this yearlong U.S. trade war with China loomed like a specter at the 36th biannual Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, which wraps today.

“Hong Kong fine jewelry exports to the world increased 15 percent to reach $57 billion in 2018,” said Kent Wong, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Jewellery Advisory Committee.

“But the global economy is seen as increasing in uncertainty and slower in growth in the year to come. The U.S. is Hong Kong’s largest jewelry export market. We grew by 18 percent last year. However, a single-month figure in December showed exports falling. Although the global economy is uncertain, there has been progress in the way Hong Kong exporters have, poetically, found ways to upset the impact of the trade [war],” Wong continued.

Poetically, indeed. Creativity abounded at this show, from jade-encrusted butterflies and dragonflies at Dawn Jewellery to the delicate desktop bouquets of 18k gold, rubies, and emeralds at year-old Maison Guan.

During the first half of 2018, Hong Kong’s exports of precious jewelry grew by 18 percent, with the United States, European Union, and Switzerland as the biggest markets. Sales to the United States, in particular, increased by 19 percent.

The HKTDC expects the demand to calm a bit due to the political climate. However, an improvement is expected for the U.S. market, in particular. “China’s more stable economy, coupled with structural reforms crafted to support consumption, should whet an appetite for jewellery in the medium term,” said an HKTDC statement. And in mainland China, numerous players are keen to stake their claim in the market, too, including Cartier, De Beers, Chow Tai Fook, and Lao Feng Xiang.

It seems that demand for fine jewelry is going nowhere anytime soon.


Maison Guan Fine Jewellery dandelion
Amber and diamond-encrusted dandelion, $115,000 (approximately); Maison Guan Fine Jewellery


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Peter Lam Merit Tahitian pearl earrings
Peter Lam’s Brilliant Night View earrings, winner of the 2018 JMA International Jewelry Design Competition Merit & Tahitian Pearl Award

Top: Hong Kong International Jewellery Show’s Hall of Extraordinary

Note: Kristin Young is writing the Off the Chain blog while Victoria Gomelsky is on maternity leave.

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Kristin Young

JCK Magazine Contributor

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