Rapaport Magazine

Hong Kong

By Mary Kavanagh
Holiday Sales So-So

Sales over the Christmas holiday period in Hong Kong were “good but not exceptional” according to Sally Ryder, Ryder Diamonds, who specializes in bespoke wedding and engagement jewelry designed and manufactured in Hong Kong. This was the second year running that Ryder created a ready-to-wear collection for the holiday season and she reported that sales were fairly consistent with the same period in 2013.
   “Our business continues to grow and sales volume continues to increase,” said Ryder. “So, given the feedback from our diamond dealers saying that their November/December sales weren’t too strong, I think we’ve been in a fortunate position.”
   Others in the trade were not so enthusiastic about sales over the holiday period. Bee Ng, Bee’s Diamonds, said sales were “okay, but not so good.” Although his existing customers placed orders and were keen to buy, they were not prepared to spend too much on premium jewelry for Christmas.
   Rakesh Gajera, chief executive officer (CEO) of Laxmi Diamond, also found that business in Hong Kong over Christmas was “okay, but not great” and “a little bit quieter compared to last year.” Gajera’s business is focused 50 percent on Hong Kong, where his customers are predominantly jewelry manufacturers, and 50 percent on China, where he has a broad range of clients, from jewelry manufacturers to wholesalers, and both large and small retailers.
   The Christmas holiday season is “not so important” for his Chinese clients, and Gajera was optimistic that business would pick up with the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February. “I am confident things will pick up for Chinese New Year and have bought a lot of stock with this in mind,” he said.

Lack of Consumer Confidence
   Both Gajera and Ng expressed concern about the late December drop in the Rapaport diamond list prices. Gajera said that although business was generally okay compared to 2013, “it’s not great but it could be great if prices were stable.” He added that the market lost confidence with the recent drop in prices.
   Ng also voiced concern about the decrease in the list price of diamonds and the resulting negative impact on confidence in the marketplace. “People in the business have lost confidence,” he said, referring to customers, wholesalers, dealers and manufacturers who he said were now more hesitant to buy.
   “I had some customer orders canceled as soon as the list prices went down. People don’t want to stock up and that is not good for Chinese New Year,” Ng said, noting that prices of diamonds ranging from 1 carat to 10 carats fell. He was slightly more optimistic about the outlook for diamond business in 2015. “I think the market will be healthy, but not strong,” he said.

New Clients/New Requests
   Ryder’s customer base is predominantly the Hong Kong expatriate community. Yet this Christmas she was “pleasantly surprised with a couple of last-minute — but very high-value — bespoke engagement ring sales” to Mainland Chinese clients who were referred by existing customers. One of the rings commissioned — “a 5-carat fine white round brilliant in a solitaire setting — was similar to the work she does for her expat clientele but at a higher value.
   The other ring, however, was a departure for her: a fancy pink diamond. “I don’t have a lot of experience with fancy pink, so this was quite an unusual sale for us,” Ryder said. “It was also a heart shape, which isn’t particularly popular with our expat customers. The client also purchased and paid for the stone without even seeing it before we made the ring, which is highly unusual for a fancy pink diamond sale. To sell a pink diamond from a certificate and photos is quite rare. Even my dealer was shocked. A lot of trust was placed in us with this sale.”

Retail Sales Bounce Back
   The total value of retail sales in Hong Kong in November 2014 increased by 4.1 percent compared to a year earlier, higher than October’s 1.4 percent increase, helped by notable growth in inbound tourism, according to the Census and Statistics Department. The total volume of retail sales rose by 7.5 percent in November from a year earlier, up from an increase of 4.3 percent in October.
   The retail value of sales of jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 2 percent in November compared to the same period a year earlier. But it was a significantly smaller decrease than the double-digit drop in both value and volume — 11.6 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively — recorded in October.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - January 2015. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share