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Expectations High as Hong Kong Show Opens

The Territory's Polished Trade Flat in 2016

Feb 28, 2017 8:28 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... Hong Kong’s polished diamond trade stagnated in 2016, but dealers are hoping this week’s International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show will spark an improvement for the year ahead.

“There was a bit of a pause last year, but demand is starting to come back,” said a Hong Kong-based dealer on the first day of the show. “Hong Kong is still a market where important pieces sell.”

Polished imports to the municipality slid 0.7 percent to $17.4 billion during the year, while polished exports edged up 0.3 percent to $13.35 billion, according to data published this week by the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, China.

Dealers noted there were a lot of goods on display at the show but very few “fresh goods” available. That means there are a lot of lower-quality diamonds around – for example, stones that are milky or have black spots – explained a Mumbai-based exhibitor.

A large volume of goods is currently in production, following strong rough buying in the first two months of the year. Dealers are hoping the show will signal improved polished demand, as jewelers are expected to replenish inventory sold during the Christmas and Chinese New Year seasons.

The show is considered an important indicator of Far East jewelry demand after the Chinese New Year season, and a bellwether of dealer trading in the diamond market. Exhibitors noted a positive atmosphere as the show opened on Tuesday with steady visitor traffic and buyers assessing available stock and prices.

“There is a feeling the market is starting to wake up,” said one Israeli exhibitor. “By the third day, we’ll have a better idea of how the market is.”

The Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show runs from February 28 to March 2 at AsiaWorld-Expo, while the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, which features finished jewelry, takes place from March 2 to 6 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Organizers said about 4,480 exhibitors from 53 countries were participating in the two events.

“Despite global economic uncertainties, the strong participation of exhibitors and buying missions at the shows is evidence that the jewelry industry remains optimistic about business prospects and sees Hong Kong as an important sourcing platform for jewelry and raw materials,” said Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC), which organizes the show.

Hong Kong, which receives polished diamonds from all the major diamond centers, serves as a gateway to Asia for the industry. Imports from India grew 7 percent to $7.75 billion in 2016, while imports from Israel fell 11 percent to $1.83 billion; from Belgium, they declined 10 percent to $1.83 billion. Shipments from the U.S. increased 0.5 percent to $1.83 billion.

Hong Kong’s polished exports to mainland China, its largest market, grew 23 percent to $2.82 billion during the year.

Jewelry demand in mainland China and Hong Kong is expected to rise this year, according to Chau, since the Year of the Rooster is considered a good year for marriages.
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Tags: Avi Krawitz, diamonds, gems, HKTDC, Hong Kong, Jewelry, pearls, Rapaport
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