Buyers paradise: HK Jewellery Show
hen I got seriously back into jewellery design nearly 15 years ago, my mother said, "Ok, off to the HK jewellery show we go." Actually I'd never heard of it so went in with innocent eyes that grew like saucers over the 4 days we were there. It became a yearly buying event until 2018 when democracy demonstrations followed by covid which pretty much eliminated visits until now.
Finally this year the shows came back, bigger & better than ever. It's not just one show, there are shows also in March and September. The temptation to go earlier to the smaller June show became irresistible, as my gemstone and pearl stock was getting very depleted.
buying loose sapphires, tourmalines, spinels
So onwards to the Hong Kong Convention Centre perched on the world famous Victoria Harbour. It was bittersweet coming back without mum, who was my eagle eye, she had a superb skill for choosing colours and kept me on piste for what I really needed even though we could both see an absolute need for a 20ct diamond. Sadly she is no longer here but I felt her guidance and came away with a beautiful selection that wasn't distracted by other more dazzling (& expensive options) ... well apart from some personal orange sapphires.
"Hong Kong has long been recognised as one of the world’s premier trading hub and manufacturing centre for finished jewellery and gemstones as well as jewellery raw materials."
Hong Kong Convention Centre
There's several reasons why I go and why it's important for Vermilion Jewellery and clients...
Largess. Set in the Hong Kong Convention Centre (in town) and similtaneously at the Asia Expo Convention centre (near the airport), it is simply huge. The semi-precious gemstone hall alone takes me a day to navigate around. There are also separate pearl, diamond, precious gems, silver, finished jewellery, packaging and technology halls. It's 4 days of solid sourcing. It's mesmerising and dazzling and well, you just want to buy everything. But the sheer quantity soon trains your eye and you are able to eventually distil down the quality & price of stones that you need. I don't actually buy the first day, it's simply looking and then I plunge in on day 2 & 3, with day 4 going back for anything I have missed.
Quality. It is expensive to exhibit at these shows, many do Hong Kong several times a year as well as US and other European/Asian shows. You are not going to find fly by nighters, social media or market sellers here. It is serious trade or wholesale only along with rigorous passport control and well armed security.
You can buy pearls at USD $16,000 a strand (boxes of them), 20ct flawless diamonds from the Antwerp dealers and many other crazily priced jewels. And believe me there is no shortage of buyers who are there to do exactly that with wads of cash. The HK Customs and Export Department are conveniently on that very same floor. It's fun to watch from the side lines until destiny takes me to the cheaper side of town if you can really call it that. It's still expensive, being wholesale so I have to be well researched to know the carat prices. Converting quickly from USD /HKD to AUD is usually a reality check on whether I want to actually complete the purchase.
pearls, neon pairaba tourmaline & large diamonds (14-20ct)
Choice. I can sit in the booths and hand pick my gemstones, inspect and choose my pearls & diamonds, no online buying can possibly match this. A diamond loupe, tweezers and magnifying glasses are my constant companions to sort through the myriad of cuts, colours & nacre. It's truly amazing how when you see trays and trays of pearls, how good you are at picking the different nacres (pearl surfaces) shiny, wrinkled, smooth, blue, pink or yellow tints whereas if you are looking at single strands or online you just don't get that detail.
Relationships. It is a time of meeting old suppliers and making new connections. So many skilled family businesses often generational and the pride they have with their wares. The Jewish diamond dealers, Italian chainmakers, Japanese and Tahitian pearl sellers, Thai & Sri Lankan sapphire dealers and of course the Indian stone cutters. Anybody that thinks the jewellery industry is a niche or vanity market is quickly subdued by the sheer volume and melting pot of nationalities of sellers and buyers.
Treasure. After the inevitable breeching of the budget, some exciting gemstones and pearls have come back allowing me to expand a bit more, particularly into necklaces. It's an absolute privilege to be able to go there and be exposed to the worlds best jewellery both loose stones & finished. Truly aspirational and inspiring.
Peridots, green amethyst, baroque pearls and tourmalines will make an appearance over the coming months. They will appear in the newsletter first so be sure to subscribe and support artisan jewellery.