Hong Kong Jewellery Fair
Ariticle Courtesy Rapaport News
Trading in the loose diamond section of the Hong Kong Gem and Jewellery Fair concluded on September 20 with diamantaires still concerned about their near-term prospects in the Chinese market.
“We went with very low expectations and they were basically met,” said a Mumbai-based polished diamond manufacturer who supplies round and fancy shape diamonds from melee to 2 carats. “There was activity but not at a level that will make a difference or change the market for the better.”
The five diamantaires who spoke with Rapaport News by phone — on condition of anonymity — agreed that the September show was not the game changer it has been in the past. Demand remains geared to filling specific orders as jewelry wholesalers and retailers are maintaining low inventory levels.
“Customers who usually come and buy what they like, this time only bought what they need,” said an Israeli supplier of high-end fancy shape diamonds.
Still, the show helped lift the mood among diamantaires who have endured a difficult July and August period. A Hong Kong-based supplier, who deals in diamonds below 1-carat, suggested that people are just happy to be back in the market after the summer vacations in New York, Antwerp and Ramat Gan kept trading at a lull in the past two months.
For him, the show was average and far from levels seen at previous September Hong Kong fairs, reflecting the overall decline experienced in China this year. “Fewer people than usual came so we’re not really happy because Chinese buyers still don’t want to spend,” he said. “Prices came down a few times in the last two months so they don’t want to buy in a downward moving market.”
Exhibitors noted that inventory levels remain high with a lot of imperfect stones available on the market. While manufacturing has been significantly reduced in the past year, there is some scarcity of nice, clean-cut diamonds, as well as SI-clarity goods which remain in steady demand from buyers.
The Israeli fancy shape supplier was a bit more upbeat in his assessment of the market, stressing that consumers are still buying diamonds in Hong Kong and China even if they’re spending a less than before. “At the show, everyone was working and we had offers,” he said. “But we didn’t always make the sale – even when there was a profit – because it’s difficult to find a replacement in the nice goods we keep. Furthermore, buyers are also prepared to wait.”
Another Hong Kong-based dealer suggested that the show didn’t signal that market conditions would improve in the coming six months, especially in Hong Kong which has come under particular pressure from the slowdown in China. Already he reported that some Indian and Israeli trading companies have closed their local offices and more will consider that move if there is no significant improvement before the Chinese New Year.
The India supplier stressed that the next month or two will be a crucial period for the Far East market. He said that you have to work in the right place and with the right goods to succeed.
The Israeli dealer agreed, “You have to learn to operate in this market. If you have the consistency of goods, customers, service and marketing, you can do business,” he said. “We saw at the show, it’s a difficult market but people are still buying diamonds.”
The loose diamond section of the show took place at AsiaWorld-Expo from September 16 to 20, while the finished jewelry section of the fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre ended on September 22.