For more than 30 years, virtually ever since the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair has existed, Studio Luciano Arati of Milan has organised the participation of more than 400 gold jewellery producers in numerous international events spread across Europe, the United States and Asia. It works in very close collaboration with UBM Asia, the company that the firm has the exclusive for representing in Italy, and organises jewellery fairs, not only in Hong Kong but also in mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Istanbul, India, Russia and Europe. Mauro Arati, owner of the firm, explains the evolution of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, UBM Asia’s flagship event, and how the markets it addresses have changed.
“We have been cooperating with the fair in Hong Kong since it was launched, 31 years ago. Since then, we have followed its transformations, at corporate level and at the level of content, and alongside UBM Asia we have also gone through extremely difficult moments, like the consequences of the Gulf War and the SARS alarm. It must be said, however, that exhibitors who moved away in those years have come back to the event, which has been experiencing increasingly positive growth since 2003. When it comes to producers, we take full care of managing their participation at the fair, from the choice of exposition that best suits their needs, to the sale of space and precise and agreed station allocations. I must say that UBM Asia has always involved us in decisions and holds our experience in high regard”.
How has the fair changed over the years?
“The Hong Kong fair was born as the door for entering China, especially at the end of British protectorate (which ended in 1997, editor’s note). Even then it had begun to show a significant economic pace, but it was mostly a big fair of medium-low range products. Over the years, it has evolved more and more towards luxury, sophisticated and refined products to become an essential point for doing business in Asia today. Given the number of participants, however, we can say that there will always be space for all product ranges. With its liberal economy and preferential taxation, it has also become a nerve centre for fashion: most large companies have their Asia headquarters based in Hong Kong”.
How many expositions are there today?
“We are proud to say that at the last edition in September there were 59,000 registered visitors, which is not the same as the number of people who came, which was almost 132,000. This is the largest B2B event of this kind with its nearly 3,700 exhibitors from 49 countries around the world. Practically anyone who works in this sector has to come through here”.
What is the identikit of the fair visitor?
“It used to be mainly buyers interested in an average product who came to stock up. Today, buyers are looking for unique products, many of which – it is good to note – are related to the intrinsic value of Italian manufacture. Big brand names come to the fair looking for semi-processed products, rare stones, pearls and raw materials. For the next edition, we have worked hard to bring a delegation of Italians to visit the exposition for 5-6”.
How has the market changed?
“Much of the focus is on luxury. Suffice it to say that shortly after the Hong Kong exposition, the Richemont group has been organising Watches & Wonders, an exhibition of luxury watches, for the last three years. It’s much more than a trade fair: it’s a direct dialogue between producers and 16-18,000 rich Asians to transmit to them a taste for beauty, high quality manufacturing and brand value. After all, the growing trend in the country is the organisation targeted events to which people with extraordinary economic capacity are invited. Hong Kong has become used to ‘skipping’ from event to event”.