Jeweller reports from last month’s Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.
Fuer dai (富二代) can be translated as rich second generation. It is a colloquial catch-all for the super-rich 80s-born buyer every luxury jeweller in Hong Kong seeks to attract.
Walking the aisles of the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair last month, it was a term I heard over and over, as salesmen and women excitedly pitched their wares at the Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
September’s Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair is a much vaunted event in the jewellery calendar, with buyers flocking from across the world looking to gain an edge on their competitors. The goal: choose fresh new season looks for Christmas shopping fuer dai.
Goodbye Kitty, hello fancy colour diamonds
As a first-time visitor the grandeur of the show was a sensory overload. Though it wasn’t just in this stadium of jewels that a palpable appetite for all things shiny was on show.
In Central, the business district, stores like Chow Tai Fook take up all four corners of the same busy pedestrian junction. There’s nothing really to compare it with in the UK, but if anything the frequency of jewellery chains is more akin to coffee shops than jewellers. And Chow Tai Fook would be Starbucks.
Chow Tai Fook’s offering is far broader than what the Western consumer is accustomed to. The same store will offer 24ct yellow gold Hello Kitty charms alongside 10ct diamond engagement rings.
But if gilded high street trinkets were slightly dismaying, returning to the conference hall set me right. In one place I saw dazzling jadeite set with diamonds, traditional ceremonial gold adornments and an array of fancy colour diamonds.
Walking what my pedometer assured me was 11,000 steps back and forth through the hall, I cannot report seeing any simple silver studs or basic hoops. The Jewellery & Gem Fair is wall-to-wall pomp.
I myself am fortunate to have received a Hong Kong-based commission to design 25 bespoke cocktail rings using the most exquisite fancy colour diamonds. The collection, soon to be unveiled, is an exclusive for the Chinese market. It will be my most elaborate project since designing a Diamond Jubilee brooch for Her Majesty the Queen, in association with BJA.
Wallace Chan continues to stun
I have always admired Wallace Chan’s work; he inspires me as an innovator. The Wallace Cut was one of the first things I learned as a jeweller, and as a designer who refuses to be type set.
Sometimes he opts for literal and naturalistic designs, making butterflies or snakes with a Van Cleef & Arpels-like realism. Other times his designs are wonderfully abstract, playing by their own rules.
It was great to see Mr Chan honoured at the Jewellery News Asia Awards as the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution Award. In contrast to the ostentatious pieces on show, his portfolio for the fair was jewellery free. His traditional Chinese dark timber structure with flowing water sculptures have to be seen to be believed.
The same is true of much of the work on display at the fair: Hong Kong is the haute couture capital of the jewellery world. Elaborate bespoke pieces are celebrated, as are their creators. The enthusiasm is intoxicating. However, we all know that Western luxury consumers are more restrained than their Hong Kong counterparts.
A visit to the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair is something every designer must do. But don’t go getting too many ideas.
This guest column was written by jewellery designer Ivonna Poplanska. If you would like to contribute to Professional Jeweller please email the editor at email@example.com with an idea for a column.