The weakening of the yuan against the Hong Kong dollar is making life even more difficult for the city’s retailers, with brands forced to raise prices of local goods for mainland visitors to offset the yuan's fall amid an already weak tourism industry, writes the South China Morning Post.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH reports that September 2016 marks the fifteenth straight month of falling exports. The downturn in watch industry exports flattened out in the third quarter, but remained significant in September, at -5.7%, coming in at a total value of $1.72 billion (1.7 billion francs). Exports to the United States - the leading export county for the second time this year with 11.3% of the total market - rose 4.7%, while those to Japan (7.5% of market) increased 8.9%.
Diamond smuggling in China, an issue that has received significant press in recent years, is not going away.
The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair drew 55,768 unique buyers from 147 countries and regions this year. "The attendance," writes Anthony Demarco for the Jewelry News Network, "which still ranks the annual event as the top fine jewelry trade fair in the world, is a 3.2 percent decline from the prior year." He notes that this is the second consecutive year that the fair saw a drop in attendance. In 2015, the fair attracted 57,616 unique visitors, which was again 2.5 percent drop from the year before.
The Chinese National Day holiday period - also known as Golden Week - started October 1 and runs until October 7. It is the most important period after Chinese New Year in terms of the number of Chinese travelers, writes Jing Daily.
With diamond traders heading home as the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair came to an end on Monday, most appeared to be relatively optimistic though cautious ahead of the approaching holiday sales season. Demand for diamonds in the Far East remains soft due to the economic slowdown in China and an ongoing drop in tourists arriving in Hong Kong, Rapaport News reports.
Chow Tai Fook, the world’s largest publicly traded jewelry chain, is warning that the jewelry market remains challenging even though it expects a decline in sales to ease off in the second half of this year. It also hopes to benefit from easier comparisons in the second half with the same period of 2015. “This year is still a challenge because the volatile global economy is affecting buying sentiment as a whole,” Kent Wong, the managing director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, told Rapaport News.
Stephen Lussier, the CEO of De Beers brand Forevermark, said steps taken in the second half of 2015 after production was reduced had proved their effectiveness with a stronger performance for De Beers in 2016. "We are pretty optimistic," he told Bloomberg TV. "Demand is holding up but I would call it steady rather than booming in terms of consumer sales. This makes us cautious and careful about the second half of 2016 but the polished market has really been stable."
Rio Tinto’s 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender is being showcased in Hong Kong against the backdrop of the annual Hong Kong Gems and Jewellery Fair. The 2016 Tender collection features 63 unique diamonds. The centerpiece of the collection is The Argyle Violet, the largest violet diamond unearthed from the Argyle mine and the largest diamond in the 2016 Tender.
Pin Lee, writing for the South China Morning Post, spoke with insiders from the Hong Kong and Asian diamond market to get their opinions on diamonds as an investment. While not without risk, as with any investment, by making a careful choice and focusing on the highest quality and rarest of stones, one should end up with a rock-solid investment. "Generally speaking," said Chin Yeow Quek, Sotheby’s deputy chairman of Asia and chairman of international jewellery in Asia, "diamonds do not fluctuate but, as with most items of value, there will be some ups and downs.
New Diamond Technology (NDT) has produced a blue diamond that it says is the world’s largest lab-grown blue diamond – and more than twice the size of its previous large blue stone, reports Rob Bates in JCK Online. The SI, Asscher cut stone weighs 10.07 carats and has a fancy deep blue color. NDT's largest blue diamond had been a 5.03-carat stone.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre's "Diamond Pavilion" at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair starting September 13 will be replete with no less than 115 diamond trading companies, topping last year's numbers when the Antwerp diamond contingent was among the largest at the show. The Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair is beyond a doubt the most important appointment in the year for the worldwide diamond and jewelry industry.
The first International Gem & Jewellery Festival (IGJF) will start next Tuesday, running from September 13 to 18 at the Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Event Space, showcasing gemstones, pearls, diamonds, opals and fine jewelry. The show will provide competition for UBM's Gems and Jewellery Fair which takes place on the same days.
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), part of the De Beers group, announced that it will unveil the latest addition to its suite of synthetic detection technology at the forthcoming Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair between September 14 and 18. The new instrument, PhosView™, is a compact, self-contained screening device designed to allow parcels of polished stones to be quickly and accurately analyzed to determine if they contain potential High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) synthetics.
A new initiative to encourage the involvement of younger diamantaires in the industry is moving ahead, with its first major networking event to take place on September 15 during the Hong Kong Gems and Jewellery Fair. The event will be broadcast live to Belgium, Israel, and India where other Young Diamantaire events are being planned, Rapaport reported. The Young Diamantaires project grew out of a need to encourage trade members aged under 45 to become involved in the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), explained Rami Baron, Chairman of the WFDB’s Promotion committee.
Hong Kong recorded a drop of 9 percent in polished diamond imports in the first six months of 2016 due by a drop in deliveries from the major trading centers, according to data compiled by the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong. Shipments dropped to $8.52 billion Rapaport said further extended a declining trend which began at the start of last year. Diamond and jewelry firms in Hong Kong report tough trading conditions, due in large part to a fall in the number of tourists from Mainland China.
The Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., plans to expand in the U.S. market by selling diamonds to retailers via a wholesale business in a bid to offset the effects of the slowdown in sales in China that has seen profits drop. The world’s largest publicly traded jewelry chain plans to start the new U.S. venture within a year and has set up a team to conduct feasibility studies, said Chow Tai Fook Managing Director Kent Wong, according to a Bloomberg report.
Luk Fook Holdings reported that the slump in sales continued in its first fiscal quarter due to a slowdown in Mainland China and low sales in Hong Kong and Macau. The firm last month reported that sales and profit tumbled for the fiscal year ended March 31.
According to the Diamond Loupe's sources on the ground, traffic at UBM's recent Hong Kong Jewellery and Gems Fair was low throughout the entire show.
Hong Kong/Chinese jewelry chain Luk Fook Holdings is the latest to suffer from what Bloomberg is calling the "Chinese malaise" among Hong Kong retailers, as sales and profit tumbled for the year ended 31 March 2016. The company is among several major jewelers hit by the Chinese economic downturn and fewer tourists travelling to Hong Kong.
Luk Fook warns that its profit for the past fiscal year which ended on March 31 is likely to drop by 35 to 45 percent as a result of reduced spending by tourists from mainland China. The strength of the Hong Kong dollar against China's renminbi is also putting Chinese visitors off buying, along with an economic slowdown in the mainland and a rise in the popularity of other tourist destinations.
ALROSA President Andrey Zharkov held a series of meetings with a broad range of industry stakeholders and associations during a visit to the JCK Show in Las Vegas this week on increasing diamond sales and implementing joint marketing programs. These included meetings with Signet Jewelers CEO Mark Light and Chow Tai Fook CEO Kent Wong on the possibility of joint marketing events aimed at the promotion of diamond consumption.
Jewelry retail giant Chow Tai Fook reported net income fell to $379 million for the year ended March 31, significantly below analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg and 46 percent lower than the year-before figure. Hong Kong retail sales fell 12 percent in the first quarter, with jewelry and watch sales plummeting almost double that, contributing to Chow Tai Fook’s lowest profit since 2010.
Shares in Hong Kong-traded Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group dropped to a one-month low after it announced full-year profit fell as much as 50% as weak Chinese consumer demand hit revenues and the world’s largest jewelry retailer posted hedging losses on gold loans. Profit for the fiscal year that ended March 31 fell 40-50% compared to the previous year, the company said in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing, Bloomberg reported. The company issued a similar warning in November for first-half earnings, which dropped 42% from a year before due to weaker sales in Hong Kong and Macau.
Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group has beat 107 luxury brands in the fashion, watch, jewelry and leather goods sectors to be named as China’s most digitally proficient jewelry brand in 2016, mainly due to its strong e-commerce strategy, according to the 'Digital IQ Index' by digital intelligence firm L2 Inc. The report cited the jeweler’s solid e-commerce strategy and creative use of social media platforms such as WeChat.
"As April 2016 concludes, the diamond industry has without question improved relative to a year ago, however, current industry data and commentary paints a mixed picture as to whether market fundamentals have in fact stabilized enough to support a new wave of sustainable growth continuing into the near-to-medium-term", writes Paul Zimnisky, author of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index to introduce his in-depth analysis of global diamond trade demand, supply and pricing in 2016.
Hong Kong's polished diamond imports fell 13% to $4.23 billion in the first quarter of 2016 after shipments from its key supplier markets – India, Israel and Belgium – all trended downwards. Deliveries from India, Hong Kong’s largest diamond trade partner, fell 12% to $1.88 billion. The declines were somewhat offset by an 11% gain on imports from the U.S. and a 4.7% rise in imports from the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong's fourth- and fifth-largest trade partners, respectively.
When it comes to buying luxury goods, including diamond jewelry, Chinese shoppers prefer to buy abroad rather than at home for simple reasons: they are cheaper overseas and the likelihood of them being just a good imitation is close to zero. But Premier Xi Jinping’s government wants to create a consumer-driven economy, with shoppers buying at home. To achieve this aim, writes Avi Krawitz in Rapaport, the administration raised taxes on jewelry and watches bought from online overseas websites. Meanwhile, such items bought at home come with sharp tariffs attached.
Gujarati diamantaires in Hong Kong are threatening to move their diamond business to "safer countries" as a result of a rise in robbery attacks on members of the diamond community in recent years. The diamantaires have asked local authorities to beef up security. Hong Kong's diamond business is valued at $13 billion annually and most of it is controlled by Gujarati diamantaires, The Times of India reports. The turnover of the diamond jewelry and diamond-set watch business is estimated at more than $30 billion.
The decline in Swiss watch exports that started in July 2015 gathered pace in March, with exports to Hong Kong, the United States and China hit hard. Overall watch exports plunged 16.1% on the year in March with a value of just 1.5 billion francs ($1.53 billion), making them the lowest March figures since 2011. The biggest declines were seen for watches costing 200-500 francs, with a 27.1% drop in both value and volume terms.
HRD Antwerp Hong Kong has opened its new office in Kowloon, sharing the same premises as the Hong Kong Indian Diamond Association (HKIDA).
Chinese jewelry retailing giant Luk Fook reported quarterly same-store retail sales plummeting 27% due to “sluggish” consumer sentiment in Greater China. Meanwhile, revenue from sales in Hong Kong and Macau dropped even more – down 28% – in the fourth fiscal quarter that ended March 31. The figures were similar to those reported by Chow Tai Fook last week. Sales in mainland China dropped at a slower pace, but were still down 19%. Same-store sales plunged 25% in the previous quarter.
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., the largest jewelry retailer in China, posted heavy falls in mainland sales in the first quarter of 2016 from a year ago. Same-store sales of jewelry plunged 24% while those of gold products slumped 29%. The company said a growing number of mainlanders are traveling overseas to shop for luxury items and other products, while the country’s slowing economy has battered consumption. The important Hong Kong and Macau markets posted a 26% decline in the value of combined sales and a 27% drop in same-store sales.
China's largest jewelry retail chain, Chow Tai Fook, is spreading its wings further afield and is aiming to expand more broadly into retail in a bid to capture some of the business of Chinese retail giant Alibaba and other Internet retailers. It invested $54 million in shopping platform CTFHOKO.com in December and a mall to showcase products sold online, offering genuine imports such as infant formula, diapers and cosmetics at prices at least 10 percent cheaper than shops in mainland China and is aimed at consumers wary of counterfeit goods online, according to a Bloomberg report.
Further evidence of the slowdown in Hong Kong and Macau consumer sales of jewelry has been provided with Chinese jeweler Chow Sang Sang Holdings International Ltd. reporting that revenue in the two areas dropped 7.7% on the year to $1.4 billion for 2015 due to a fall in gold prices and slower jewelry sales. The company's same store sales in the two Special Administrative Regions posted a sharp fall of 11% on the year.
If there is one lesson to be learned from the Hong Kong shows that took place during the first week of March, it is that the diamond industry is focused on the very short term and uncertain about market developments in two-to-three months, writes Avi Krawitz for Rapaport News. Traffic was better than expected and the exhibition was busier than last year’s show, and it appeared that dealers again had the confidence to close deals.
A 10.10 carat vivid blue diamond is expected to set the record for the most expensive piece of jewelry sold at auction in Asia despite an ongoing growth slowdown in China's economy, Sotheby's said Friday, writes Daily Mail. The "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" is expected to fetch between $30 million and $35 million at the April 5 sale in Hong Kong.
HRD Antwerp and the Hong Kong Indian Diamond Association (HKIDA) recently signed an agreement on an exclusive diamond-screening service using the M-Screen. The M-Screen is “the world’s fastest melee-screening device available today,” HRD Antwerp said. The new service will offer the screening of parcels – with a minimum total weight of 10 carats – of melee-sized diamonds from 1 to 20 points and colours D-J straight from HKIDA’s premises in Kowloon.
Following reports by exhibitors and industry bodies of better-than-expected foot traffic at the March 1-5 Hong Kong Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and the finished jewelry show which took place from March 3-7, the organizers of the shows reported 80,000 visitors to the fairs compared with 76,000 visitors last year. More than 31,000 buyers visited the Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show, while over 49,000 visitors attended the jewelry fair, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).
Diamond industry analyst Ehud Arye Laniado took the occasion of the international jewelry show in Hong Kong to ascertain the mood of the diamond market, specifically its reaction to the high levels of rough supply in early 2016 in light of demand for polished goods, and more specifically to guage the resulting profitablility.