Attendance for the first two days of the September Hong Kong Jewellery Fair improved by 11.2 percent year-over-year, according to UBM Asia, the company the owns and operates the world’s largest B2B fine jewellery trade fair. The numbers are from the portion of the show dedicated to jewellery making materials, equipment and supplies held at the AsiaWorld-Expo.
Wolfram Diener, UBM Asia senior vice president, shared these numbers with me during a brief interview Wednesday at the opening of the portion of the show dedicated to finished fine jewellery at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. Fair organizers predicted very modest growth this year, and judging from the first two days of the finished jewellery portion of the fair, this may still happen. But an attendance figure of 33,606 unique visitors had to be a welcome sign for the organizers. Particularly during a time of political turmoil and violence in the Middle East, sanctions against Russia, and still sluggish economies in the western portion of the world, particularly in Europe and the US. Not to mention a category 8 typhoon off the coast of Hong Kong.
The crowded registration area at the AsiaWorld-Expo during the second day of the fair.
One of the buyers I saw Tuesday was Steven Lagos, founder of the jewellery brand, Lagos, who says the annual fair has grown to become “best show in the world.”
“You used to be able to see all of these little companies in Basel, but it has gotten too exclusive and expensive,” he says. “I always find interesting ideas and suppliers in Hong Kong. It really offers a global perspective into the business.”
Mayuri Vara, owner Vara of London, a new luxury jewellery brand, says she has been coming to the Hong Kong fair for three years to source her materials and to network. Next year, she plans to be an exhibitor. This year, her focus will be coloured gemstones, such as rhodolite garnet, pink sapphires, morganite, grey and champagne diamonds.
“The demand of colored gemstones at the fair is set to continue,” she says. “(The show) attracts a great number of influential international buyers and is a gateway to doors into luxury Asian markets. We will be looking forward to exhibiting next year.”
Leibish Polnauer, founder of Leibish & Co, a dealer of fancy colored diamonds to consumers and the trade primarily online, brought some of his more special gems with him to exhibit, including a 50-carat yellow diamond and a 3.37-carat pinkish-purple diamond, known as “The Purple Orchid,” that has an asking price of $4 million. His booth like many at the show was crowded with people milling about and with appointments. When I asked him about business, he shrugged saying “typhoons, whatever, we do most of our business online.”
It is the largest B2B fine jewellery show in the world in terms of the number of exhibitors and the amount of exhibition space. Baselworld – The World Watch and Jewellery Show (primarily a watch show open to the trade and general public) attracts more visitors.