I often tell people that I have the best job in the world. And I mean it. I get to work with wonderful people, write about beautiful things and sometimes I get the privilege of travelling to far flung places and call it “business”.
Which is why I am currently in Hong Kong – to check out the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show. This is my first time in the city and to say it is incredible would be an understatement.
There is a lot in the press at the moment about how brands are investing in places such as China, because it is an area of economic growth. And they are not kidding. If you were to base your assumption of the economic health of a city on the amount of watch advertisements there are per square mile then Hong Kong is doing very well indeed. You cannot move for them – in one square alone there were billboards for Piaget, Baume et Mercier and Omega all side by side. It’s like Geneva airport as imagined by Ridley Scott.
And once you enter the fair, which is vast by the way, you get a real sense of how much money there is around.
One major trend seems to be micro pave. From rings and earrings to necklaces, no surface on any piece is left unencrusted. After you’ve been blinded by the pave, you start to notice the stones. They are huge. Small bird’s egg huge. Rubies, emeralds, pariba tourmalines and all the size of gobstoppers. And that’s before you get round to looking at the pearls, which look like the poor oyster would have needed an epidural to get out.
It’s not just the big brands who are working with stones of this quality and colour – speaking to some people this morning at a speed-dating style breakfast where we got to meet some of the exhibitors, even the smaller designers and brands are working with serious amounts of stones and forging a business based on producing high end pieces and bespoke designs that retail at about 2m HKD. Well for 56ct of diamonds that almost seems reasonable.
That is not to say there is nothing going on at a more reasonable price point - brands such as Vida are designing collections that use diamonds and other precious stones but on thinner metal and at smaller sizes so they can offer customers fine jewellery but at a less oligarch-marrying price.