The Bangkok & Hong Kong Jewellery Shows–Signs of Recovery?
By Rayan Innue
Jade and diamond necklace
by Green G. (Hong Kong)
BANGKOK/HONG KONG, March 2011 – The Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair kicked off its 47th edition with optimism in the air.
Held from February 25 to March 4, it “set new records for exhibitors and visitors who came to Thailand from every corner of the world,” said Somchai Phornchindarak, CEO of the fair.
The gem and jewellery sector represents Thailand’s third largest industry with more than US$10 billion in sales a year, and Bangkok’s bi-annual gem and jewellery show plays an important role in the sector.
Among its 1,500 exhibitors were many silver companies, with products ranging from simple metal pieces to original upmarket designs set with gemstones.
In 2009, Thailand became the world’s largest exporter of silver jewellery, with exports valued at around US$956 million. Its main market for both silver and gold jewellery is the USA.
Also well represented were gemstone dealers offering a wide selection of rough and facetted gems.
The industry has applauded the government’s removal of the 27 percent import duty on rough.
A significant but smaller number of booths showcased fine gold pieces in a variety of interesting and original designs.
Silver with a special patina with gemstones by Goldlip. (Thailand)
Thailand’s jewellery companies are beginning to move away from only private label manufacturing — which the country has been known for because of the quality of production and labour skills — in favour of providing affordable luxury under their own brand names.
A few days after Bangkok, the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), opened its doors to record numbers of buyers and exhibitors, from March 4 to 8.
Truly global in scope, the show attracted a record 37,000 buyers from around the world who came to see the products of 2,800-plus exhibitors, from 46 countries and regions.
Mandarin garnet, black diamond, and 18K black gold ring by Baer Jewels. (Hong Kong)
Export figures from Hong Kong, the world’s fourth-largest exporter of fine jewellery after Italy, the United States, and Switzerland, provide further confirmation that the sector has been improving since the global economic crisis: exports of jewellery reached US$4.4 billion in 2010, a 21 percent increase over 2009, although still lower than the peak of US$5.2 billion before the crisis.
Clearly optimistic, Lawrence Ma, chairman of the HKTDC Jewellery Advisory Committee, said during the opening ceremony, “With the global jewellery market back on its stylish feet, these are promising times. The upswing is driven, in good part, by the Chinese mainland and its growing appetite for jewellery. Last year, jewellery sales in China totalled around US$30 billion.
“And the mainland is expected to become the world’s biggest market for luxury goods over the next decade.”
Many exhibitors also indicated that demand from China is, indeed, helping to fuel the recovery in the sector.
Silver and gemstone necklace by Daeng Fashion Co. (Thailand)
Many gem and diamond companies said business was brisk, with buyers coming largely from China and India.
The presence of so many European and American exhibitors suggests that they too are looking towards the thriving Asian market following the economic crisis in the West where consumer spending dropped greatly.
And, having a presence at the Hong Kong fair offers them the double advantage of attracting the attention of not only Asian buyers but also buyers from their home countries.
In terms of products, there was something for every taste and budget, from raw materials to the most elaborately designed haute joaillerie.