Typhoon Damps Down HK Fair

Solitaire - - CONTENTS - By Cyn­thia Un­ni­na­yar

The 36th edi­tion of the Septem­ber Hong Kong Jew­ellery & Gem Fair boasted a record num­ber of ex­hibitors— 3,730— but the down­side was the short­ened show thanks to the ar­rival of su­per­ty­phoon Mangkhut, the most se­vere storm to hit the re­gion in recorded his­tory.

When it opened on Septem­ber 12th, sen­ti­ment was cau­tiously up­beat at the Asia World Expo (AWE) sec­tion of the Hong Kong Jew­ellery & Gem Fair, show­cas­ing loose gems, pearls and di­a­monds. Al­though sched­uled for five days, the event ground to a painful halt early on Septem­ber 15th, af­ter three days, as the im­pend­ing typhoon showed no signs of weak­en­ing as it ap­proached Hong Kong. Fear­ing the worst, ex­hibitors packed up early, while many vis­i­tors scram­bled to find flights to leave the city be­fore the storm hit full force on Sun­day, Septem­ber 16th.

On the morn­ing of the 16th, the Hong Kong Ob­ser­va­tory raised the storm sig­nal to T10, which is the high­est level, and the city and air­port shut down. Nor­mally bustling with ac­tiv­ity and crowded streets, Hong Kong was com­pletely empty, as se­vere winds and heavy rain­fall bat­tered the city and sur­round­ing ar­eas, caus­ing se­vere dam­age.

From the rel­a­tive safety of my room on the 25th floor of a ho­tel on the Kowloon side, I could see trees up­rooted and branches bro­ken in the strong winds, while storm surges an­grily crashed up over the sides of the piers. De­bris flew ev­ery­where and some build­ings had their win­dows blown out. The heavy glass win­dow­panes in my ho­tel vi­brated—a bit scary—while guests on higher floors said they could feel the 73-floor build­ing sway as the winds whipped nois­ily through the streets and nar­row al­ley­ways

with sus­tained winds of 173 kmph and gusts up to 223 kmph.

By evening, Mangkhut left Hong Kong, trav­el­ling to wreak havoc in Ma­cau and the Pearl River Delta in China. On Mon­day, the clean-up ef­forts of the area be­gan, as res­i­dents and of­fi­cials as­sessed the de­struc­tion of flooded ar­eas, dam­aged streets, bro­ken win­dows and fallen trees.

Two days ear­lier, on Fri­day the 14th, the jew­ellery sec­tion of the fair opened its doors at the main Hong Kong Con­ven­tion and Ex­po­si­tion Cen­tre (HKCEC). A day later, traf­fic slowed as vis­i­tors changed flights to leave the area.

There was how­ever no dearth of beau­ti­ful prod­ucts. Just about ev­ery­thing could be found—from in­ex­pen­sive beads and carved gems to mil­lion-dol­lar di­a­monds and rare coloured gems—from ac­ces­si­ble fresh­wa­ter pearls to high-value South Sea pearls and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

Af­ter the storm on Sun­day, the HKCEC show re­opened on Mon­day the 17th for the re­main­ing two days, to no­tice­ably smaller num­ber of vis­i­tors.

Be­fore the storm

AWE opened on Septem­ber 12th with nearly 1,600 booths and na­tional pavil­ions fea­tur­ing coloured gem­stones, di­a­monds and pearls. On the first and sec­ond days, many ex­hibitors said that the show was do­ing mod­er­ately well, al­though oth­ers in­di­cated that the show was slow. Whether it was in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the im­pend­ing typhoon or just the cur­rent state of the mar­ket, there seemed to be fewer buy­ers than last year’s event, and those who came seemed to be mostly look­ing.

There was how­ever no dearth of beau­ti­ful prod­ucts. Just about ev­ery­thing could be found— from in­ex­pen­sive beads and carved gems to mil­lion-dol­lar di­a­monds and rare coloured gems—from ac­ces­si­ble fresh­wa­ter pearls to high-value South Sea pearls and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

While all types of gem­stones were in abun­dance, Paraiba tour­ma­line con­tin­ued its up­ward trend, with many booths show­cas­ing both Brazil­ian and

African va­ri­eties. Emer­alds also seemed to be in the spot­light as did their pink cousins, mor­gan­ite. Sev­eral deal­ers in­di­cated that many buy­ers were look­ing for high-qual­ity small stones in all types of gems.

Mov­ing over to the HKCEC on open­ing day, Septem­ber 14th, traf­fic was brisk in the an­tique jew­ellery sec­tion, but a bit slow else­where. The De­signer Area— al­though a bit lost be­hind the In­ter­na­tional Premier Pavil­ion (IPP)—fea­tured many creative de­sign­ers from around Asia and the world. A wide va­ri­ety of pieces were on dis­play, from flam­boy­ant be­jew­elled vests and head­gear to very high-end award-win­ning gem­stone and di­a­mond pieces. The sec­tion at­tracted a steady stream of on­look­ers. The IPP, with its pre­mium brands, was some­what quiet. The ad­join­ing Grand Hall with its Fine De­sign Pavil­ion seemed to fare lit­tle bet­ter. It was also no­tice­able that some brands from pre­vi­ous years were not ex­hibit­ing. Worry about the typhoon clearly im­pacted vis­i­tor num­bers as many sought to leave Hong Kong be­fore it hit.

Given the vast na­ture and uni­ver­sal­ity of the show, jew­ellery was seen in ev­ery colour and style. In keep­ing with cur­rent trends, there were many ex­am­ples of mul­ti­fin­ger rings, as well as ear­rings rang­ing from sim­ple studs to sump­tu­ous stilet­tos. Rain­bow coloured jew­els were ap­par­ent at many booths, while state­ment neck­laces also at­tracted at­ten­tion.

On the more un­usual side, a brand from Spain of­fered some­thing for the woman (or man) who has ev­ery­thing—a

Di­a­mond Gift Card, fea­tur­ing di­a­monds and gold in a cred­it­card-size gold case, for a price of $100,000. Or, for those re­ally want­ing to make an im­pres­sion, they could pur­chase a small case of ten gift cards for a cool $1 mil­lion dol­lars. A few other “un­ex­pected” jew­els and dec­o­ra­tions can be seen on these pages.

The day af­ter Mangkhut rav­aged the area, the show opened to even fewer vis­i­tors, as was to be ex­pected since many had left be­fore the storm. One Hong Kong com­pany lamented that, while a few of their reg­u­lar cus­tomers showed up, they made no new con­tacts at all dur­ing the fair. This sen­ti­ment seemed to be fairly wide­spread, not just at this show, but oth­ers over the last few years. Does this call into ques­tion the ef­fec­tive­ness of trade shows? While the Hong Kong trade shows are among the most im­por­tant in the world, we can­not help but won­der just how im­por­tant?

Among the busiest booths at AWE were the coloured di­a­mond deal­ers. Shown here is a se­lec­tion of coloured di­a­monds by An­twerp Cut (Bel­gium).

Among the In­dian pavil­ion ex­hibitors was Ravi Gems, which show­cased a va­ri­ety of beau­ti­ful jew­els, in­clud­ing these neck­laces fea­tur­ing rose-cut di­a­monds, pearls and emer­alds.

Rio Tinto (Aus­tralia) un­veiled its state­ment neck­lace in Hong Kong, “Earth Magic”, com­posed of two of the world’s most cov­eted jew­els: Ar­gyle Pink Di­a­monds and Muzo Emer­alds. (Photo: Rio Tinto)

In the French pavil­ion, de­signer Is­abelle Lan­glois of­fered a se­lec­tion of colour­ful multi-gem­stone jew­ellery in­clud­ing these bold 18-karat pink gold ear­rings fea­tur­ing io­lite, tsa­vorites, sap­phires, di­a­monds and pea­cock feath­ers. (Photo: Is­abelle Lan­glois)

Rain­bow colours were pop­u­lar in jew­ellery at the show, such as this brooch from Lorenzo (Hong Kong). (Photo: Lorenzo)

In­dia had pavil­ions at both AWE and HKCEC. Shown here is the en­trance to the pavil­ion at the HKCEC, which fea­tured more than 40 ex­hibitors.

Philip­pines-based Jewelmer of­fered an ex­quis­ite col­lec­tion of South Sea golden pearls in sev­eral col­lec­tions in­clud­ing its new “Sum­mer Blos­soms,” fea­tur­ing golden pearls in 18-karat gold with di­a­monds. (Photo: Jewelmer)

A sam­ple of rough opal by Clifton Opal (Aus­tralia) on dis­play at AWE.

A beau­ti­ful im­pe­rial topaz and Paraiba suite of­fered by Ma­noel Bernardes (Brazil) at the AWE.

In ad­di­tion to their “Puz­zle” jew­ellery, one of the more un­ex­pected of­fer­ings at the HKCEC was this Gift Card sell­ing for $100,000 of­fered by Span­ish com­pany Goret­skiy. It also of­fered cases con­tain­ing ten gift cards for the man or woman who truly has ev­ery­thing.

A pair of Colom­bian emer­alds was of­fered by Shaun Gems (USA).

A rain­bow of fine Cey­lon sap­phires were show­cased by Sap­phirus (Sri Lanka) at AWE.

In the In­ter­na­tional Premier Pavil­ion, Ital­ian brand Pic­chiotti show­cased its “Xpand­able” col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing this di­a­mond and emer­ald ring in a pa­tent-pend­ing, rev­o­lu­tion­ary new line of jew­ellery that uses in­no­va­tive, in­vis­i­ble tech­nol­ogy to ex­pand and con­tract its size.

Award-win­ning opal by Joel Price of Chris Price Opals (Aus­tralia). (Photo: Chris Price Opals)

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