Survey:Market Sentiment Good Despite Global Challenges

The world’s largest jewellery marketplace, formed by the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show ended recently. Under the “Two Shows, Two Venues” arrangement for a second successive year, the two shows welcomed over 76,000 buyers from 140 countries and regions,up 2 per cent over last year.

Nearly 30,000 buyers visited the Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show at Asia World-Expo (2-6 March), while over 46,000 visitors attended the Jewellery Show at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (4-8 March). Both events are organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

“Despite the global economic challenge, the two shows recorded a slight increase in buyer attendance. It is a very encouraging result. Attendance from some traditional markets even recorded double-digit percentage growth, such as the US, Italy, the UK and Japan.

Attendance from certain emerging markets such as Thailand, Israel and South Africa also recorded significant growth, reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as a leading jewellery sourcing hub,” Benjamin Chau, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, said.

Cautious Optimism

The HKTDC commissioned an independent agency to conductonsite surveys during the two shows, interviewing 1,206 buyers and exhibitors about their views on market prospects, products and industry trends.

The survey found that around 80 per cent of buyers expect steady or increased overall sales this year. Over 60 per cent of buyers and exhibitors expect retail prices to remain steady in order to remain competitive.

Both buyers and exhibitors are optimistic about the growth potential of Hong Kong’s and the Chinese mainland’s jewellery markets, with most buyers and exhibitors considering the Chinese mainland a key market to explore.

In terms of product materials, the majority of buyers and exhibitors interviewed expect karat gold to be the most popular in 2015, including gold-karat white (48%), gold-karat yellow (32%) and gold-karat rose (33%). They also predict that diamonds (50%) will be the most popular gemstone this year, and one carat (48%), round cut (45%) and colourless (41%) diamonds will lead the market.

The majority of respondents consider jewellery shows in Hong Kong effective.

Ninety one percent of buyers and 93 percent of exhibitors consider Hong Kong’s fairs a major channel to find new suppliers, while 79 per cent of exhibitors consider the fairs a key avenue to promote new products. The majority of respondents said the twin Hong Kong fairs are their must-attend trade show.

US, Europe Markets Shine

Buyers from the United States have continued to surge. The US Jewelry Importers and Manufacturers Association had organised 10 jewellery companies to visit the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show to buy diamonds and coloured stones.

The Association’s President, Dagbjorn Johnson, considered the shows well organised and conducive to stone sourcing.

Adrienne Dequarto, the Director of Catalog Merchandising of Luxury Brand Holdings, which is also based in the US, highlighted that the shows are important because they facilitate sourcing for the upcoming seasons and preview new trends, adding that; “we have fixed 50 appointments through HKTDC’s business matching service before coming to the show, and we have already bought samples for all our product lines."

The purchasing power of the emerging markets should also not be ignored. should also not be ignored.

Ayman M. N. Al Chaar, the owner of UAEbased Samer Jewellery, said he had placed onsite orders worth more than US$300,000.

San Seyho, the Director of Cambodia’s Chheng Hak Stone Diamond, noted that Cambodian consumers prefer high-end jewellery set with large diamonds as a sign of their wealth and status. “We hope to find big diamonds, pearls, vintage diamond jewellery and uniquely designed jewellery at the two shows,” he said. “The Hong Kong International Jewellery Show is huge, where buyers can find what they need.

We plan to buy US$100,000 worth of jewellery at the show to test our market.” Amid the economic uncertainties in Europe, there were some pleasant surprises at the fair.

The Italian Jewellery Silverware and Watch Federation’s Chief Executive, Steven Tranquilli, revealed that theItalian retail market is recovering, and consumers are favouring medium- to high-end jewelleryi tems .

“The Federation will organise a delegation of about 50 Italian retailers to visit the two shows again next year,” he said.

Springboard To Asia

More than 4,360 exhibitors from 52 countries and regions took part in the two shows, setting a new record, and ensuring the event’s continued status as the world’s largest jewellery marketplace. Most exhibitors said Hong Kong’s position as an international jewellery trading hub helps them enter Asian markets.

This year, the Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show introduced the new “Treasures of Ocean” zone to showcase exquisite pearls. Many exhibitors revealed that Chinese mainland buyers had a strong demand for high quality pearls. Jose Casares, the Director of Switzerland’s Shanghai Gems S.A, a pearl wholesaler, said Chinese main land customers were particularly interested in natural, top-grade pearls, and this will help his company’s growth in the Chinese mainland market.

Alain Boite, the President of Alain Boite S.A.S. from France, is also optimistic about Asia’s emerging markets, and is eager to reach international buyers through the shows.

“We’ve achieved good business at the shows this year. Many customers approached us to buy all sorts of pearls in different sizes. We’ve met some new buyers from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Indonesia as well, and their demand for gold pearls is especially strong,” he said. Japan’s JETRO also gathered nearly 100 Japanese companies to exhibit at the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show.

The President of Japan Pearl Exporters, Yoshihiro Shimizu, was particularly complimentary about the show’s good traffic and active rades.