Split Ends: A Report From Fall 2013’s Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

Reports from September’s Hong Kong fair reflect a slowing, bifurcated market

With retail forecasters calling for a bright holiday season and pundits heralding the return of the middle-market consumer, reports of sluggish sales from the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair are striking a contradictory note, with buyers seemingly split between the low and high ends of the market.

By all accounts, high-end jewels, designer offerings, and color did the best; midrange jewelry and white diamonds failed to meet sales expectations. 

Sapphires were the big winners, followed by unheated Mozambique ruby and red spinel. Other top sellers included large tourmalines (particularly green, rubellite, and Paraiba varieties), ­tsavorite and spessartite garnets, and fine aquamarine. “Demand is for one-of-a-kind, high-value stones,” said Shaun Ajodan of New York City’s Shaun Gems.

Hawaii-based designer Denny Wong stood out with several pieces featuring carved gemstones from American gemstone cutter Michael Dyber, while Etienne Perret of Camden, Maine, did well with a ceramic and diamond jewelry collection priced $75–$300. Henn GmbH of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, made a splash with a gold and tourmaline torso-foot sculpture derived from bronzes by artist Salvador Dali; the company is making pendants based on the Dali sculpture—one with sapphires and another with diamonds.

Yet the fair was slower than in 2012. In the final quarter of 2013, crystal-ball gazers expect color and luxury jewels to thrive, but they worry that the mid to lower ends will be slow. “We expect the high end to sell well,” said Ajodan, “and the U.S. market to continue strong [for high-end items].”

More Hong Kong fair news:
+ JCK5: Jewels to See at the 2013 Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair
Good Buys at the Fall 2012 Hong Kong Fair