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Hong Kong Show Traffic Better-Than-Expected, Trading Steady

Mar 3, 2016 9:04 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Diamond exhibitors were satisfied with activity during the opening days of the Hong Kong show noting that visitor traffic was stronger than last year.

“The show has been okay,” said one Israeli diamond dealer in comments by phone. “Traffic has been decent, better than we expected, and people are doing business.”

Most diamantaires participated in the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show, which took place at the AsiaWorld Expo from March 1 to 5. Finished jewelry is on display at a different venue from March 3 to 7 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Exhibitors noted good dealer demand in the diamond section, while jewelry retail buyers were also present but they were more cautious on pricing. One India-based manufacturer observed sales were price-sensitive as retail buyers were unsure about the direction market will take in the near term. However, most didn’t report a notable change in prices.

Mixed Sentiment

Market sentiment has been mixed in the weeks before the event as polished diamond demand has been cautious, with shortages supporting prices. The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1-carat, GIA-graded diamonds rose 0.3 percent in February, marking its fourth month of consecutive increases. That is, after demand slowed and prices softened for most of 2015 largely due to faltering Chinese demand as the economy slowed.

Some dealers expected Chinese buyers to return since they’ve refrained from buying for so long. “It’s now been two Christmas’s and two Chinese New Year periods that they haven’t been in the market,” said a Mumbai-based dealer in a telephone interview. “So you’d expect some inventory replenishment at this point.”

Benedict Sin, chairman of the Jewellery Advisory Committee at the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC), which organizes the March show, said in a statement before the show that consumer demand for jewelry had rebounded since the price of precious metals fell last year. He added that under the current economic conditions, consumers may prefer high-quality and reasonably-priced products rather than conspicuous brands.

Steady Dossier Demand

Diamond exhibitors reported there is good demand for Gemological Institute of America (GIA) dossiers, particularly in sizes 0.30 to 0.50 carats and for 1 to 2-carat diamonds. Demand for 3-carat and larger was relatively soft, they noted. One dealer said by phone that shortages were still being felt in the 0.30 to 0.50-carat category, while a larger inventory was available at the show in 1-carat and larger sizes.

Exhibitors noted smaller, independent Chinese jewelry retailers were looking for goods at the show after reporting a fairly good Chinese New Year selling season in Mainland China. Hong Kong remains in a tougher retail environment as political unrest during the holiday period and fewer Chinese tourist arrivals damped sales. It’s still unclear whether major jewelers in the region were active at the show, after the likes of Chow Tai Fook reported a 29 percent slump in sales during the holiday period.

In general, dealers that spoke with Rapaport News said the market was operating in a measured way. “The show was pretty much in line with our expectations,” said the Israeli dealer. “The market is okay, and there was a good atmosphere at the show." 

The HKTDC said more than 4,380 exhibitors from 50 countries were registered to participate in the show across the two venues.

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Tags: diamonds, Hong Kong show, Jewelry, Rapaport News
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