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Chow Sang Sang Launches Lab-Grown Platform

Mar 24, 2022 6:17 AM   By Rapaport News
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Hong Kong-based retailer Chow Sang Sang has officially entered the lab-grown space, creating an e-commerce site that connects consumers with synthetic-diamond brands.

The site, called The Future Rocks, features brands from the US, the UK, Israel, Japan and other countries, Chow Sang Sang said Wednesday in its annual results announcement.

Retailers in greater China have started dipping their toes into lab-grown, even though the region has generally seen less demand for the category than the US has. Last year, Chow Tai Fook trialed a line of jewelry featuring man-made stones.

The Future Rocks presents its products as “bling with a conscience” and claims on the site it “strive[s] to do the right thing for future generations.” It partners with socially responsible brands, the web page adds.

The site also contains some direct language about the natural-diamond industry.

“Pulling these expensive rocks from the earth’s crust can cause displacements of land, wildlife, and local communities,” according to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) section. “Throughout history, humankind has a tendency of exploiting underpaid labor for self-serving reasons.”

Its mission is to make lab-grown diamonds “mainstream” and usher in a “new, greener era” that places emphasis on “traceability, sustainability and ethical practices,” said CEO Anthony Tsang, according to a sponsored article in lifestyle magazine Tatler.

Chow Sang Sang — a De Beers sightholder and Alrosa contract client — did not respond to a request for further comment from Rapaport News.

Sales jump

Meanwhile, Chow Sang Sang’s group sales for 2021 increased 47% to HKD 21.99 billion ($2.81 billion) after the Chinese economy reopened toward the end of 2020. The first half of 2021 saw a spike, the jeweler said Wednesday. Profit climbed 18% to HKD 639.8 million ($81.8 million).

Revenue from mainland China soared 65% to HKD 14.32 billion ($1.83 billion). Sales grew 94% in the first half of the year but slowed to 43% from June to December, primarily due to a higher base comparison with the second half of 2020, when Covid-19 restrictions were first lifted, the retailer noted. Sales in Hong Kong and Macau climbed 27% to HKD 5.42 billion ($692.3 million) as the pandemic eased and the government distributed vouchers to stimulate the economy, the company said.

The sales surge recorded last year has begun to flounder in 2022 amid a return of the coronavirus and geopolitical tensions, which have driven down the price of gold, Chow Sang Sang said.

“Hopes were high as we moved into 2022: Our operation in mainland China was delivering solid recovery,” the company noted. “Yet, around the time of the Lunar New Year holidays, the fifth wave of the pandemic started to ravage Hong Kong, and the sales upswing...was wiped out. Stringent anti-pandemic measures have ground retailing businesses almost to a halt. We have had to suspend and restart operations of many of our stores and to curtail the trading hours of all of them.”

Sales in Hong Kong and Macau fell 14% year on year in the first two months of 2022 and dropped 60% for the first half of March. In mainland China, sales were up 12% year on year in January and February but slid 30% in the first two weeks of March, the company added.

Image: A Chow Sang Sang store in Beijing, China. (Cathy Tam
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Tags: Alrosa, Anthony Tsang, Chow Sang Sang, Chow Tai Fook, De Beers, diamond, diamond jewelry, Hong Kong, Jewelry, lab-grown, Rapaport News, The Future Rocks
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