Rapaport Magazine


By Julius Zheng
Connecting in Las Vegas

The 22nd JCK Las Vegas show, the leading North American jewelry  trade show, ran from May 31 through June 3 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. The four-day show consisted of over 2,500 manufacturers and designers representing 32 countries, including 300 new exhibitors.
   As a major international exhibitor, The China Hong Kong Pavilion hosted over 200 Hong Kong–based companies, most of which have manufacturing facilities in Mainland China, along with several companies based directly in Mainland China. The Hong Kong Jewelry Manufacturers’ Association (HKJMA) has organized the pavilion since 1992.
   Shanghai Lao Feng Xiang, a renowned Chinese jeweler, was also exhibiting outside the China Hong Kong Pavilion. The brand name, originated in 1848, is celebrating its 165th year in 2013. The retailer has over 700 stores and approximately 2,000 sales points in across China.

Vegas Still a Draw
   In 2013, there were more Chinese buyers visiting JCK than in 2012, including a Rapaport China Buyers Group of around 10 Chinese companies visiting for the fourth consecutive year. In principle, the Hong  Kong shows are easier to access and more convenient to source goods than JCK. Hong Kong is only a 2.5 hour flight from Shanghai, and much easier to get around for the Chinese, but the shrewd Chinese buyers came to Vegas to learn about the U.S. market, admire jewelry designs, talk with old suppliers and also meet those vendors they had previously known only through emails or phone calls.
   Some buyers ordered triple EX cut goods from the Vegas exhibitors to be viewed and picked up back home at the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, which ran from June 20 to 23, featuring 1,800 exhibitors. Other buyers were more interested in the large-size white and fancy color diamonds, which are gaining popularity, and colored stones like ruby, sapphire and tanzanite.
   Both the U.S. and China markets are important diamond and jewelry centers, and have been interacting with each other for many years. Before the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it housed hundreds of large and small jewelry factories producing millions of pieces of jewelry, many of which were exported to the U.S. After 1997, the design and order processing remained in Hong Kong but the majority of manufacturing was moved to Shenzhen and Panyu, the Mainland China cities very close to Hong Kong, to take advantage of their lower manufacturing costs.
   The move allowed Hong Kong to successfully retain its niche as the world’s leading jewelry exporter. The U.S. has long been the leading importer of jewelry made in China, followed by Europe, explaining why the China Hong Kong Pavilion has been a part of the Vegas shows for 22 consecutive years.

Top Luxury Spenders
   Chinese tourists spent more on luxury goods than any other nationality for a third consecutive year despite fewer overseas trips, according to a survey compiled during March and April. The Chinese Luxury Traveler report pointed out that Chinese shoppers are spending an average of $1,139 per overseas trip, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year and 70 percent higher than the global average. Watches and wine were the favorite purchases for men, jewelry and clothing items for women.
   “The global travel industry has recognized that China’s luxury travelers are No. 1 and are doing everything they can to appeal to this key group of luxury travelers,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, which published the latest findings in conjunction with International Luxury Travel Market Asia.
   France topped the favored destination list, while the U.S. and Singapore were second and third. Switzerland, the UK, Italy and Germany are also on the top 10 list.

Jewelry Sales Up
   According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the total retail sales of gold, silver and jewelry in China totaled $4.39 billion in May, gaining 38.4 percent year on year. Overall retail sales of consumer goods in May reached $308 billion, an increase of 12.9 percent.
   In comparison, the total retail volume of gold, silver and jewelry was $4.93 billion in April and $3.73 billion in March. The cumulative number from January to May was $21.8 billion, increasing 31.3 percent from the same period in 2012. However, many diamond wholesalers thought the surge in sales of gold products because of gold’s price drop did not truly benefit diamond business, because it tied up a lot of funds of both retailers and consumers.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2013. To subscribe click here.

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Tags: Julius Zheng