“Modest Growth” at the March 2016 Hong Kong Show

The HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show dazzled despite a tough business climate

Modest growth was perhaps the most ubiquitous phrase heard during the 33rd annual HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show at the Hong Kong Convention and Exposition Centre, where 2,500 exhibitors from more than 40 countries set up booths March 3–7.

The phrase was used to describe bottom lines, export percentages, and annual sales. But it was mostly used to characterize a global industry that’s chugging along despite a difficult financial outlook. 

“In general, the [economic] environment is not so good,” said Lawrence Ma, chairman of the HKTDC shows. But despite lowered attendance expectations for this year’s event, “the turnout has been good,” he noted. “Hong Kong is always a competitive platform for exhibitors. It’s an important gateway to Asia, and it’s convenient for buyers.” 

The buyers and vendors JCK talked to agreed that the show—one of the largest jewelry trade exhibitions in the world—remains exceptionally transaction-friendly, despite the fractured global economy. “You can do real business here,” said Vladyslav Yavorskyy of Los Angeles–based jewelry firm Ivy, which displayed enchanting one-of-a-kind spinel-and–diamond pieces. “The Americans don’t have money anymore. And Basel is more like a brand showcase. Here you can really make sales.”

Alan Lee Brown, the American owner of Oh Scarlett!, a jewelry business based in Bangkok, said sales of the collection’s delicate, stackable gold and silver rings were swift; a single client wrote an order for 10,000 on day two. “It’s been incredible so far,” he said.

A representative for Taiwanese brand Liangher said the show’s wealth of buyers from mainland China is a big draw for the company. It’s a sentiment backed by some very bullish stats: According to HKTDC, Hong Kong exports to mainland China rose 22.6 percent in 2015, compared with the previous year. 

For the roughly 80,000 buyers hailing from 147 countries, the exhibition’s breadth and diversity of product were as impressive as ever. Trends spotted on the floor included celestial motifs (Liangher showed diamond pavé earrings that resembled mini-galaxies), opals, and moonstones. 

Openwork designs glittering with pavé diamonds were also popular—collections such as Polygold, Artman, and Prism boasted wide selections of openwork rings, while Front Top showed rose gold diamond pavé bracelets featuring lots of negative space. Dancing diamonds—gems fitted with tiny mechanical elements that make them shimmy independently within a design—were another hit, led by Japanese manufacturer Crossfor, which also supplies the suspension fixture for other Asia-based brands offering the look.

Innovation, in jewelry design and trade show advances, is always part of the package at the HKTDC event. “Hong Kong is a lot of things,” said vintage jewelry dealer Gilles Zalulyan of Hong Kong’s Palais Royal Paris. “But it’s definitely not a boring show.” 

Top: 18k pink gold ring with amethysts, rhodolites, garnets, and pink sapphires; $4,325; Isabelle Langlois, Paris; 33-142-467-500; isabellelanglois.com